Moving from child to adult social care

The time of change from 13 or 14 up to 18 or 19 years of age (up to 24 years for some people with very complex needs) is called transition. 

This is a guide for parents and carers about what should be happening, and how you can help the process.

Often a great many people need to be involved, so organising a transition plan which meets your son or daughter’s needs can be a difficult business.

From age 14 

Planning for transition should start in school at the beginning of Year 9 (the year in which your son or daughter is 14). From this first meeting, the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) should hold meetings at least every year to discuss and plan future school, college, work experience or placement, or employment opportunities.

The first transition planning meeting can involve:

  • your child
  • parents or other carers
  • doctors, nurses and therapists
  • social worker
  • respite carer
  • brothers, sisters or other family members, friends, housing or welfare benefits advisor, volunteers or workers from support groups
  • and anyone else who can contribute.
They will try to work together so that full information is available to your son or daughter about his or her options for the future.

Those people working directly with your son or daughter will seek his or her views and aspirations and those of parents. They aim to develop a transition plan that meets individual circumstances and needs as your son or daughter gets closer to adulthood.

Your son or daughter will be given a copy of the transition plan. Encourage him or her to look at it from time to time and think about changes that may be wanted at a later stage.

From age 16

Staff from all the agencies involved will meet to review the transition plans if your son or daughter has complex disabilities.

This is especially important if your son or daughter has been away at school or college, and plans to move back to the borough. The transition plans need to link back into local networks, and checks made that service and support needs for your son or daughter and their carer have been assessed.

Although you will not be invited to these meetings, you will be told if any changes to the transition plan need to be made.

Other changes at 16

Your child will be responsible for consent and have the right to confidentiality over health matters
Your child will need to apply for some benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance, in their own right and it will be paid directly to them. You should speak to a benefits advisor to see how your family income could be affected or call the benefit enquiry line on 0800 88 22 00.

Mental Capacity Act

People of 16 and over have their right to make their own decisions and are protected by the Mental Capacity Act

Changes at 17–18 years of age

You should be aware of what will change during this period:

  • If you are already receiving direct payments for your son or daughter, they will be able to receive these in their own right and be able direct their own care.
  • If they are unable to undertake the responsibility of managing the payment you could become their 'third party' and manage the fund on their behalf. (The hourly rate will change at 18, the figure for adult services being lower than the children's rate).
  • If your son or daughter is in receipt of a care package your needs as carer can now be assessed.

Changes at 18 years of age

You may need to discuss these issues with a social worker: your personal advisor or other key worker can refer you to the social work team or contact them directly.

If your son or daughter has social care needs beyond age 18, his or her social care needs will be assessed as an adult. This is through a community care assessment, a copy of which is given to the young person and their carer.

Any adult who is thought to have care and support needs can request an assessment, the assessment under the Care Act will look at a range of domains, an adult that meets two of these will be eligible for care and support from the local authority.  However, this care and support will be very different from that provided to a child, as adult services works towards enabling the person to be independent.  We will provide information and advice on the assessment on the process to all families coming through the transition pathway.

If the young adult is not eligible for support services, the social workers or care managers may explore what other options are available from local voluntary sector agencies. 

Children's referral and assessment team


Tel: 020 8461 7373 / 7309

Fax: 020 8313 4400

Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH