If you are the parent of a disabled child who is currently provided with care or support from Children’s Services, it is important to know what local authorities should be doing, in terms of planning, as your child approaches adulthood.
Most of the Care Act 2014 provisions came into effect on 1st April 2015. Although the main focus of Part 1 of the Act is to reform adult social care law, it does also contain provisions in relation to disabled children “in transition” to adulthood.
A local authority must undertake a needs assessment of a disabled child if it considers that:
- the child is likely to have needs for care and support after becoming 18; and
- the assessment would be of significant benefit to the child.
If the local authority decides not to undertake a child’s needs assessment it must give reason for its refusal.
The right to a transition assessment under the Care Act is triggered when the local authority considers that it would be of significant benefit to the disabled child or the carer of the disabled child and the child or carer is likely to have needs.
When should a transition assessment be completed?
The legislation and guidance does not create a duty for local authorities to complete a transition assessment at a set age for all disabled children. The guidance advises that it will generally be of significant benefit to assess “at the point when their needs for care and support as an adult can be predicted reasonably confidently, but will also depend on a range of other factors”. Every young person and their family are different and transition assessments should take place when it is appropriate for them. However, the guidance is clear that for young people with special educational needs who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, the transition process should begin from year 9.
Factors which should be considered in determining the right time to assess include the stage reached at school, the young person or carer’s wishes to enter further/higher education or training, the young person’s plans for where they will reside, the time it takes to complete an assessment and to put in place the adult care and support and all relevant family circumstances.
The guidance stresses that transition assessments should be carried out early enough to ensure that the right care and support is in place when the young person moves to adult care and support.
It may be possible to challenge the local authority if it fails to provide reasons for a decision not to undertake the assessment or the reasons given for the decision are unsatisfactory. You may be concerned that the local authority is not doing enough to plan for your child’s care and support when they reach age 18. It is essential to consult a solicitor who specialises in community care law. You or your child may be eligible for legal aid.