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Preparing for adulthood

If your child has a learning difficultly, or a disability, they may have an education, health and care (EHC) plan. The EHC plan will detail not just education services, but also the additional health and social care services that your child is entitled to. Additionally, if the plan is needed and your child is still in education, it can last until they are 25 years old.

Your child is becoming a young adult and over the next few years they will find their life will start to change. Their future is important and as a parent or carer you need to know what is going to happen. This guidance is to help you understand all the things that will take place from the age of 14 to 25 years of age.

A transition review will take place year in year 9. Subsequent reviews from this stage onwards will focus on preparation for adulthood. This guidance will give you step by step information about what will happen to your child from year 9 onwards, right up until they reach the age of 25 if they remain in education.

Personal budgets

A personal budget shows the amount of money that will be spent on the additional services outlined in your child’s EHC plan. You may be able to receive some of the funding as a direct payment to give you more flexibility in how and when your child receives the services they require. Direct payments will not be available for all the services and decisions will be made on a case by case basis. There will also be a requirement to demonstrate how and where the payments are being spent and if the purchased services are working towards the desired outcomes set out in their EHC plan.

Find out more about personal budgets

The preparing for adulthood pathway

In year 9 your child will receive their first planning for adulthood (PfA) transition review. Basically, this means a group of people will support them to plan, their journey into adult life.

From year 9 onwards specialist SEND careers advisors are available to attend reviews to provide guidance and support.

When your child finishes year 11 of secondary school. They are now 16 years or older. They will now find themselves in 1 of 3 situations.:

  1. They will be in a school placement.
  2. They will be on an apprenticeship/further training.
  3. They will be on a college placement.

The EHC plan lasts if your child remains in education or training potentially up to the age of 25 years.

It is important that you know that the EHC plans are only for people who are in education. If you find that your child wants to leave education and get a paid job, then their EHC will cease. However, that is where the local offer can provide useful links to services which can assist you and your son/daughter with the above considerations.

Once they reach the age of 25 the EHC plan will cease regardless of their placement. Once again, your son/daughter can still access support through the local offer.

Preparing for adulthood pathway guidance (PDF, 926 KB)

Guidance for professionals

For many people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) the transition from teenage years into adulthood can be challenging as well as exciting. In Barking and Dagenham, young people, parents and professionals from health, education and social care have come together to jointly develop a preparing for adulthood pathway (PfA) that lays out, in clear and accessible language and format, what support, advice and options are available at different stages between the ages of 14 and 25. The preparing for adulthood processes are exactly the same as the 0 to 14 processes, hence this guidance should be read in conjunction with the EHC guidance and pathways document.

In summary, the EHC guidance and pathways document explains that if a young person has a special educational need or a disability (SEND), they may be entitled to an education health and care plan (EHC) that details the multiagency support they are legally entitled to. The EHC plan is reviewed annually until the needs of the young person reduce and the plan is no longer required, or until a young person leaves education. If a young person remains in education, an EHC plan may be maintained up until the age of 25.

Although EHC processes are the same for 0 to 25-year olds, from 14 onwards the processes focus on preparing for adult life and different professionals get involved in planning and review. The preparing for adulthood pathway explains at which points key decisions need to be made and lists the stages various services become available, such as:

  • careers advice at the ages of 14, 16 and 18
  • the Department of Work and Pensions. Benefits advice is available
  • the availability of adult social care assessments
  • the transfer to adult health services at 18

Preparing for adulthood aims to raise aspirations and expectation for young people as they move into adulthood, it ensures that everybody knows how to support all young people to achieve positive life outcomes in the areas of, employment, maximising independent living, good health, friends, relationships, and community participation.

Person centred planning

EHC processes use, person centred planning (PCP); the practice of focusing solely on the individual and the family in question and designing services around them. The key purpose of Person Centred Planning is to ensure young people with special educational needs and disabilities get the maximum outcome from the services and support available for them.

Up until the age of 14, EHC processes plan around the needs and wishes of the family unit. For a young person transitioning to adulthood there is a need to gradually shift the focus from the needs of the family to the needs of the young person. The extent of this shift will differ in every case and will need to be sensitively managed. From 14 onwards, as far as possible, increasing independence for the young person needs to be encouraged. From the age of 16, young people may have aspirations that significantly differ from the aspirations their parents or carers have for them. From 18 the young person is legally an independent adult. The preparing for adulthood pathway details the different points at which increased independence needs to be considered.

Personal budgets and direct payments

Anyone who has an EHC plan can apply for a personal budget. A personal budget is the amount of money spent on the services listed in the EHC plan. The budget is predominantly still managed by statutory services and not given to families or young people to manage themselves.

In some instances, it is possible for elements of a personal budget to be paid directly to a family or young person as a direct payment, enabling them to directly purchase some of the services that are stipulated in the EHC plan. Examples of possible direct payments could include, transport, respite care, domiciliary care, and equipment.

From the age of 16 young people can apply for a personal budget and be in receipt of a direct payment independently of parents or carers. The preparing for adulthood pathway encourages increasing independence, where possible, between the ages of 14 to 25. As young people get older, their needs are increasingly seen independently of their family. In many cases a young person’s view on how to spend direct payments may differ from the views of their parents or carers. It is essential that wherever possible, young people between the ages of 14 and 18 are involved in the negotiation and management of personal budgets and direct payments.

More information on personal budgets, direct payments and how to apply for them is included in guidance on personal budgets.

The local offer

The local offer is a public resource website listing local services that are available to children and young people with SEND and their families. The content of the local offer is regularly reviewed to ensure provision reflects the support, needs and aspirations held by young people, parents, carers and service providers. It includes services young adults may need to access as they transition to adulthood such as benefits advice, employment services and adult health and social care. A few contacts relevant preparing for adulthood pathway can be found at the end of this page.

Find out more about the Local Offer 

Stages in the preparing for adulthood pathway

Every young person’s EHC plan is reviewed annually. Whilst the EHC plan can be maintained up until the age of 25, this is only the case if the young person remains in some form of education and still requires the EHC plan to progress academically.

Preparing for adulthood transition annual review at year 9

Many families will already have started planning for their teenager’s adult life well before the age of 14, but the first preparing for adulthood transitions review in year 9 is when the young person, family/carers and statutory services sit down together and formally begin to plan a young person’s journey to adulthood. At the transitions meeting the existing EHC plan is reviewed and a transition plan is written, effectively becoming the journey into adulthood. The transitions review meeting is attended by the young person, their parents or carers, and several other professionals from the school/setting and the local authority including a SEND careers advisor. Reports are submitted by all professionals listed as providing support in the EHC plan. Professionals submitting reports may also be invited to attend the meeting.

The role of the SEND careers advisor is to advise on the range of options available to the young person after year 11. Following the transitions review meeting parents and young people may begin to research potential provisions, possibly visiting colleges, attending open days, looking through prospectuses.

From this point onwards, all annual reviews should focus on getting the young person ready for adult life

If parents are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, parents may receive notification from the Department for Works and Pensions about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) requesting the young person’s bank details. The young person may also be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

By years 12 and 13 the young person could be in one of several placement settings including, a school, a college, an apprenticeship, or internship. Annual reviews in all settings will still be carried out and where the EHC plan requires amendment, a proposed draft of changes should be sent through to the EHC team.

EHC plans can be maintained up until the age of 25, but only if the young person remains in some form of education:

  • if a young person decides to move or remain in further education, the EHC plan would potentially continue dependent on the young person’s needs, but this could only apply if the further education is supported by the outcomes in the EHC plan
  • if the young person begins an apprenticeship then the EHC plan would potentially continue, dependent on the young person’s needs
  • if the young person starts a supported internship, then the EHC plan would potentially continue, dependant on the young person’s needs
  • if the young person is to attend a residential specialist college, it is most likely the EHC plan will continue

If the EHC plan is continued the plan needs to consider how any required health care is accessed:

  • the young person may access healthcare independently
  • the young person may access healthcare with support from specialist settings
  • the EHC plan would need to ensure that support for complex health needs are integrated across education and social care to ensure all staff have the necessary core skills to provide support

The EHC plan would also need to consider the accommodation needs of the young person. This is because they may

  • live at home
  • live Independently away from family home and possibly receive housing benefit
  • move to supported living and if eligible, they may receive housing benefit
  • live at college or in a residential care setting

If the EHC plan is to continue, the plan needs to re-consider the young person’s social needs

  • how the young person accesses mainstream social activities and social settings and whether that is with or without support
  • If appropriate, how the young person access specialist social clubs
  • how the young person engages in family life

The EHC plan will cease to be maintained if:

  • the young person finds a job and starts paid work
  • the young person attends adult social care day provision, or independent daytime activities
  • if the young person attends residential care

More information on contacts and support agencies can be found on the local offer.

Careers advice, training and employment

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus disability employment advisers (DEA) support residents to find a job and provide information on a range of services. Each DEA helps clients with complex employment situations if:

  • they have a disability or health condition
  • they may need additional help with development
  • they may need additional help with finding and retaining employment

DEAs will establish a close working relationship with the customer to decide the best way forward and gain the customer’s commitment to the decision.

You can request support from the DEA by email or telephone, or at Barking Jobcentre Plus.

0345 604 3719


Job shops

Our job shops provide support finding work for residents within the borough.


Apprenticeships are work-based learning programmes where people earn a wage and gain on-the-job experience and skills that lead to nationally recognised qualifications. We are committed to creating apprenticeships opportunities for our residents. There are a variety of different apprenticeships available. You can find out more by speaking to your careers adviser at school or college.


Barking and Dagenham provides a variety of exciting volunteering opportunities in the council and local community. Contact our volunteering team for more information.

Work clubs

We run work clubs for our residents through our children’s centres.

Young people’s education, training and employment services

Our integrated youth service offers careers advice, guidance and information to young people age 16 to 19 (up to 25 with learning difficulties or disabilities) at Barking Learning Centre and Dagenham Library.  We can help with interview techniques, CV writing, application forms, traineeships and apprenticeships, part time jobs and referrals to other services.

Find out more at a drop in session.

Drop in sessions

Barking Learning Centre job shop

Barking Learning Centre

2 Town Square, Barking IG11 7NB

Monday 9:30am to 12.30pm

Monday 2pm to 5pm

Tuesday 1pm to 5pm

Wednesday 1pm to 5pm

Dagenham Library job shop

Dagenham Library, meeting room 3, first floor and room F02, 1 Church Elm Lane, Dagenham RM10 9QS

Tuesday 9:30am to12:30pm, room 3

Wednesday 9am to midday, room F02

The Vibe job shop

The Vibe, 195 to 211 Becontree Avenue, Dagenham RM8 2UT

Thursday 9:30am to 5pm

Book an appointment

Tia Rose: 020 8 724 2917 or 07966 276771, tia.rose@lbbd.gov.uk

Brenda Powis: 020 8724 5572 or 07875 397713, brenda.powis@lbbd.gov.uk

Marion De Souza-Snares (term time only): 07870 278394, marion.desouza-snares@lbbd.gov.uk (evening appointments Tuesday and Wednesday during term time only if unable to attend other sessions)


Mencap provides job and training services that enable people with learning disability to find paid employment. Find out more on the Mencap website

National Careers Service

National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work.

Access to Work

Access to Work grants may be available if you have a disability, health or mental health condition to help you to start working, stay in work or move into self-employment or start a business. Find out more on the Access to Work website.

Youth services

There are many youth services in the borough. Find out about:

Robert the apprentice

Apprenticeships are work-based learning programmes where people earn a wage and gain on-the-job experience and skills that lead to nationally recognised qualifications. We are committed to creating apprenticeships opportunities for our residents. There are a variety of different apprenticeships available. You can find out more by speaking to your careers adviser at school or college.

Meet Robert

Robert is an apprentice. He has put together the below information to help other young people who are trying to find work.

My story by Robert the apprentice (PDF, 172 KB)

My top tips for young adults to be successful (PDF, 8 KB)

How do I get work experience (PDF, 82 KB)

A list of questions young people might ask (PDF, 90 KB)

How to set up a bank account (PDF, 32 KB)

Independent living

Find out about the support and services available to help you to live at home independently.

Personal assistant finder

A personal assistant (also known as a PA) is employed by people who need social care (either because of their age or disability) to enable them to live as independently as possible and assist them with their everyday life. This can include helping with shopping, household tasks and help with personal care such as bathing and getting dressed.

They can also support people to access community resources (eg the library) as well as community activities and leisure facilities such as the cinema and the local bowling alley.

A PA understands each individual is different and the support they deliver gives the people that employs them choice and control.

Find out more about our personal assistant finder.

Mitchell’s story

Mitchell has a PA. Read his story, about the importance of person centred planning.

Mitchell's story (PDF, 520 KB)