What we use the term 'preparing for adulthood' to describe, when it starts, what the outcomes are and how we help young people prepare for adulthood.

What 'preparing for adulthood' means

We use the term ‘preparing for adulthood' to describe the parts of your child's life where change may happen as they move through their teenage years into adult life. 

When does planning start

It's really important to start planning for adulthood at the earliest age (no later than 14).

This planning focuses on a young person's aspirations, interests and needs.

It helps with:

  • becoming an adult and achieving independence
  • understanding the changes to the services that help the young person

We follow guidance from:

How we help young people prepare for adulthood

The Young Adults Transitions Service lead on planning for adulthood for young people aged 14 and over, including those with complex needs. We work with schools, colleges, the NHS, social care services and the team responsible for education, health and care plans.

We help develop young people's independence by supporting them with the four life outcomes:

  • living independently
  • employment and training (continuing education, training or getting a job)
  • community inclusion (having friends and participating in the local community)
  • health (being as healthy as possible, including moving into adult health services)

Living independently

We support young people to:

  • travel independently and safely (we also support their family to feel confident when the young person travels alone)
  • understand the value of money and how to pay for things in a shop
  • learn how to budget, how to look after themselves, and how to manage their own home
  • identify where and how to live, who else to live with, and who can support them to live independently
  • use Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) to improve their independence

Find out more about independent living.

Employment and training

We support young people to:

  • explore their interests
  • find the type of work they want to do, including supported employment or work experience
  • access support for day and community activities, such as attending groups or college activities
  • decide what to do after leaving school or college

Community inclusion

We support young people to:

  • explore their hobbies, leisure activities and ideas for holidays, and find extra support to help them do these things
  • access their local community
  • build and maintain relationships


We support young people to:

  • make sure they get advice and support with any medical conditions they have and medication they may need
  • eat healthily
  • exercise
  • look after themselves
  • manage their own health needs, such as how to book an appointment with a GP

We want all young people who need additional support to have a smooth and informed pathway to adulthood, so that they can live:

  • at home
  • with people and things they love
  • in caring communities, doing things that matter to them

Reviews for young people over 14 with an education, health and care (EHC) plan

For children with EHC plans, the special education needs coordinator (SENDCO) at your child's school will help you plan for your child to become as independent as possible when they're an adult. 

We have a review with you and your child in year nine to plan for this and every annual review after this includes a focus on Preparing for Adulthood.

If your child is getting support from any health and social care professionals, they'll also be part of the review.

Your child's EHC plan is the starting point for planning their move into adulthood. They may get some support until they're 25 if they remain in education or training.

Their EHC plan will help them plan for what to do when they leave education.  

Careers advice for young people

If your child doesn't have an EHC plan, your school must still provide careers advice and will be able to support you child in thinking about what they want to do in adult life.

Every school must provide independent careers advice. Careers advice can help you and your child think about what course or skills they might need to reach their employment goal.

You can ask your child's school about how they're providing careers advice. 

Information about preparing for adult life

Preparing for adulthood

Has useful information about becoming an adult.

Contact a family

Has a factsheet that explains the key parts of the support system in education for young people with special educational needs and disabilities from 14-25 years old.  

Disability rights

Guidelines for Higher Education for people with learning, health or disabilities.