Stark Reality at 18

The Changes from Children’s Services to Adult Services

Once somebody reaches 18 and moves into Adult Social Care things can change overnight and you need to be prepared for it.

In the ideal world, there should be a transition process over from Children’s Services to Adult Services of at least a year but that tends to not happen.  Why? Because of money and the fact that there will be duplication – a transition would create an overlap so it’s double funding and it is down to time constraints – very few Local Authorities have resources to support this so instead of there being an overlap in reality there is more likely going to be a short, sharp change.

Three major things tend to happen on someone’s 18th birthday:

  1. Access to existing levels of respite stop
  2. Care manager support and funding changes
  3. New legislation kicks in at 18


1.  Respite

Respite units that people access as a child are no longer available and you will have to access resources from Adult Services.  The issue is that Adult Services range from 18 all the way up to 60+ so there is a wide scope of people and services tend to be lumped in together.

Parents often experience brilliant respite when they are dealing with Children’s Services, however adult respite services are few and far between and parents don’t often realise that at 18 something they have become reliant on will no longer be available.

Planning and preparation are key.  Start identifying adult respite services early otherwise you will have no control over where and what services your child will be placed in.


2.  Care Manager & Funding

Your care manager will change to someone from Adult Services.  Children’s Services care managers work with you to get the best for your child.  Adult Services care managers are tasked with working with your child since they are now legally an adult.

Putting the fact that you have to forge new relationships with Adult Services aside, your child will be re-assessed from the viewpoint of Adult Services.  This may produce very different results from previous assessments and you will have to fight on behalf of your child to get a true assessment.  The process also changes and you will need to inform yourselves in how to navigate this to the best of your advantage.

Finally, since your child is now under Adult Services, this is the funding pot their support package will come from.  Given the wide range of services provided across the board for adults in the UK under care, the resources are much more strained and you will have to fight harder, and against a larger number of issues, to receive the same package as you did before.


3.  Legislation

In the eyes of the law, no longer is this person your child, they are an adult in their own right.  This brings with it mental capacity and advocacy implications – it’s not uncommon to see parents caught up in fighting so called advocates who are seen to be acting in the best wishes of your child, regardless of what you believe to be right.

Along the same lines, up to the age of 18, parents are legal guardians of their children and as such, are told all information about their child.  Once over 18 this does not stand and whilst parents may expect to be contacted regularly for updates on the progress of their child, legally this doesn’t have to happen (just as an employer wouldn’t be under any obligation to phone you with updates if your child wasn’t supported by Social Care).   This can be a very emotional change for parents who have up until now been wholly involved in the progress and day to day activities of their children.


A note on residential – what happens when a care manager in Children’s Services requests an assessment for someone in regard to their adult provision starting at 18?

Ideally Children’s Services should be looking at what provision is out there and liaising with an Adult Services social worker so that they can assess and fund a placement as soon as the individual reaches 18.  This includes sharing information, agreeing on the assessment and putting forward a recommendation of funding to the Local Authority.

In reality, this seldom happens.  A common situation is that a Children’s Services care manager has identified a suitable placement and requested an assessment on the individual.  The Adult Services care manager then becomes involved and they have a difference of opinion in what the individual needs, what is a suitable placement and what funding package they should get – their perspectives are different and the individual, their family and the care provider end up in the middle of a social care disagreement.

If this happens, parents will need to fight; they will have to say, look, Children’s Services have made this assessment, that’s where I want my child to go because of x, y and z and then have to keep proving that all the other recommendations are not options.




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  1. […] so that you can plan ahead of time and not be left short of support. Please read our blog post “Stark Reality at 18″ which goes into more depth about the changes you will encounter when moving to adult […]