Carers guide to preparing for adulthood

Between the ages of 16 and 18, young people start a transition of services affecting:

They may also be thinking about finding a job or their housing options.

The following information is to help you as a parent or carer to plan for this time.

Claiming benefits

At 16, your child may be able to claim benefits in their own right such as Universal Credit (external link). They may get a higher rate if they have a disability that means they are unlikely to get a job. They may also qualify for Personal Independence Payment (external link) if they have difficulties with daily living needs or getting around.

If your child stays on in education, you may have a choice. Either you can carry on claiming for them as part of your family or they can claim for themselves as a disabled adult. But, if they do, any benefits or Tax Credits you get for them will stop. You need to weigh up which option is best for your family.

If you get the maximum rate of Child Tax Credit or you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance you could be a lot worse off if your child claims benefits in their own right.

Each family's circumstances are different, so it is important to get advice before your child turns 16.  To find out what benefits you could get and how to claim you can use an independent online benefit checker like TURN2US or entitledto. However if you have any specific questions or queries please contact the Welfare Rights Service.

Grants and funding

The finance section has information about services that provide grants to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families.

Making decisions

At 16, young people have the right to make decisions about their support, education and EHC plan including the right to control a personal budget.

Your child may still want your support to make decisions, or need you to continue to make decisions on their behalf.

The ability to make decisions is called mental capacity. If your child lacks mental capacity when they become an adult, you can apply to become a deputy (external link). As a deputy, you’ll be authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf.

If you are a deputy or care for someone who can’t make decisions for themselves you should be aware of the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice (external link). The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects an adult's right to make their own decisions and to be involved in any decisions that affect them. The code of practice provides guidance and information about how the Act works in practice. It also says what you must do when you act or make decisions on behalf of someone else.

Social care

From the age of 18 a young person will be transferred to adult social care services. If your child has complex needs the Transition Service will support them throughout the transition to adult social care so they are prepared before their 18th birthday.

Mental health

The following websites have information about what happens when young people move from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to adult mental health services (AMHS):

Safeguarding adults

Safeguarding adults is about protecting adults who may not be able to protect themselves from abuse. The adult safeguarding section explains what to look out for and what to do if you think someone is being abused.

Carers' assessments

Carers of disabled children aged 17 are entitled to a child's carer's assessment 'in transition'. The assessment will look at whether you are likely to be eligible for support after your child turns 18.

If you would like to talk to someone about your social care needs call us on 0300 123 6720.

Find out what support you could get.

Information and services for young people

The young people and adulthood section has information about advocacy, housing, finance and looking for work. The youth zone also has information for young people on a range of issues like staying safe online and sexual health.

The talkzone advisers are on hand for young people online, by phone and face to face. They support families of children and young people from 0-19 years old and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities up to 25.

Young people aged 16-25 can access the Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Team service independently from their parents.

The things to do section has information about activities and places to go and the travel section has information about getting around.

Other services that offer information and advice

  • The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities - Information to help families plan ahead, including; making decisions, the Mental Capacity Act, building support networks, housing, and emergencies.
  • Mencap - information and advice about writing wills and setting up trusts for the benefit of someone with a learning disability
  • NHS choices - Guide to the Mental Capacity Act.
  • hft - Hft is a national charity that provides services for people with learning disabilities, they have a guide to the Mental Capacity Act for family and friends of people with learning disabilities.
  • YoungMinds – Information about transition from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult mental health services.
  • Council for Disabled Children - Decision making toolkit designed to be used in partnership with young people. 
  • NHS Choices - Practical guide about care homes.
  • UK - Safer Internet Centre e-safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe on the internet.