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Disabled people over 18 years old have their needs met by adult
care and support. This means that a disabled child receiving
support from children's services will be transitioned to adult care
and support when they turn 18.
In England, the Care Act was introduced in April 2015 to ensure
that there is no gap in services when a young person makes this
It is important to note that the general rights of parents and
disabled children under 18 will remain the same. This means that
parents still have the right to request an assessment of their child's
needs and the local authority is still under a duty to arrange
support and practical
assistance in meeting those recognised needs subject to
If your child is turning 18
If a child is likely to have needs when they turn 18, the local
authority must carry out a "child's needs assessment" before then
to determine what these will be. The local authority will carry out
the assessment if it considers it a "significant benefit" to the
child to do so.
These assessments will give you an idea of the help that you and
your child can expect when they move into adult care and support.
After the assessment, the local authority should draw up a care and
support plan; this may include a personal budget or direct payments
to meet some of their needs.
When can you ask for an assessment?
There is no specific age or time before the child's
18th birthday at which the assessment must take
Instead, the statutory guidance suggests that these assessments
take place when it is easier to understand what the needs of the
child and carer will be beyond the age of 18.
For children with Education, Health
and Care plans, it is likely that they will take place during
the transition process, from Year 9 onwards.
We have a template
letter you can use to ask for an assessment for your child.
An assessment of your needs as a carer
The local authority must also carry out a "child's carer's
assessment" where there is "likely need" for support when their
child turns 18 and when it is of "significant benefit."
A child's carer's assessment will look at the carer's ability
and willingness to continue caring for their child when they turn
18, the outcomes they hope to achieve (such as paid work or study)
and the support they might need to do so.
The local authority should draw up a care and support plan for
the carer; this may include a personal budget or direct payments to
meet some of their needs.
This guidance provides stronger legal rights to parent carers
during the transition period.
The needs of young carers turning 18
Young carers who provide support to their disabled sibling under
the age of 18 can access support under the Children and Families
Young carers who are approaching the age of 18 are eligible for
help in their own right under the Care Act. This is regardless of
the age of their sibling.
When a young carer approaches their 18th birthday, they can ask
for an assessment of their needs to find out what support can be
put in place to help them achieve their aspirations, for example to
go to college or work.
When a child turns 18
The Care Act is intended to prevent a gap in services when a
child turns 18.
For this reason, the act makes clear that any children's
services a child is receiving before their 18th birthday
will continue after their 18th birthday until adult care
and support takes over.
The same is true of a carer receiving support from children's
services when their child is under 18. The local authority must not
allow a gap in care and support when young people and carers move
from children's to adult services
If a carer is not currently receiving services when they receive
a child's carer's assessment, the local authority can choose - but
is not legally required - to meet a carer's needs before the child
reaches the age of 18.
The rights of disabled adults and their
If a disabled adult has been assessed as having needs for care
and support from the local authority, they will receive a care and
support plan and advice about decisions on how to meet their needs.
They might have some of their needs met via direct payments.
Until April 2016, when charging reforms will be introduced, the
local authority may charge for services depending on the disabled
adult's finances. People will only be asked to pay what they can
afford, and this will be decided by a financial assessment carried
out by the local authority.
The Care Act provides much greater rights for carers of adults
aged 18 and over. For the first time, the needs of a disabled
adult's carer will be treated in the same way as the needs of the
disabled adult themselves. Carers can ask for an assessment if they
'appear' to have needs for support. This is a low threshold and
will entitle most carers to an assessment.
The assessment will take into account the carer's wellbeing, any
outcomes they'd like to achieve, whether they are willing and able
to care for the disabled adult and whether they would like to
access work, education or training.
Find out about education beyond 16.
Introduction to the Care Act 2014 factsheet [PDF].