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Changes for service planning for young adults
Adult service providers may not be aware of the changes in special needs children’s services that came into force on 1st September. Some aspects of the new SEND Code of Practice will have an effect on care provision for over-18s with disabilities.
As a care home manager some 20 years ago, I set up a service for young adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities, some of whom were leaving children’s care services. Back then, a traditional route would have been into institutional care, but we were winding down the hospitals and many people with learning disabilities were living in community group homes. The young people we supported had such a level of healthcare need that ordinary housing was not feasible and continued nursing support was required.
Life after school?
One of the greatest challenges then was the provision of meaningful daytime opportunities for the young people we supported. There were few day places that could cope with the health needs and physical disabilities they had, and employment, however supported, was not an easy option.
As care providers, we felt strongly that this was an area of life that was denied to our service users and we worked hard to develop individual support plans that included access to the world of employment, social and leisure activities that the wider community enjoyed. There was no funding and even less assistance from statutory partners or the benefits system.
Changes have been happening in education for disabled children that may go some way to address the issue of life after school for young adults.
A new Code of Practice
The Special Education Needs and Disability Code of Practice came into force this week, setting out how children leaving school will have their needs beyond 18 years addressed.
From this month, statements of special education need are to be replaced with Education Health and Care Plans (EHC) which require statutory services to work together to assess and plan for all areas of the child’s needs, thus achieving a seamless service. This places a responsibility on statutory services to have in place a plan that considers need from birth, includes and manages transitions between provision and ensures that education continues until the young person reaches 25.
In the world of adult care provision, it may seem that this is not especially relevant as it deals with the provision of joined-up plans of health, social and education delivery for children and young people. However, since the definition of this group has been given as 0 to 25 years, there may be occasions where it does impact on adult care provision.
For children looked after by the local authority (LAC) whose placement in services such as foster care and children’s homes ends at 18, or those in residential special schools to the age of 19, their transition to adult care services will mean they are still under the EHC plan and therefore will be entitled to receive education services up to 25.
If you do provide services to young adults it would be wise to read up on the impact of this new code. It will help you to ensure that the service users in your care are able to continue to access education.
Download the full code at