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Preparing for Adulthood and Employment

For young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), planning for adulthood begins in Year 9 (the school year in which a child has their 14th birthday), and in some cases will continue until their 25th birthday.

We often call this phase in life 'transition' or a 'transition to adulthood'.

When you are a parent or carer of a young person with additional needs, it's important to know what sort of support is available at each stage in this transition - whether or not your young person receives assistance at school, or from health or social care services. It's equally important to know what you can be doing to help your young person to make a successful transition into adulthood.

This phase of “preparing for adulthood” is when professionals will consult with you and your son or daughter to consider if they may need specialist support during transition and into adulthood. Many young people will be supported successfully by the existing resources at their school, social care teams and the NHS; some young people also have support from organisations in the voluntary sector.

Other young people may need specialist support including the disabled children & young people (DCYP) team, Activities Unlimited or specialist community health services.

If a young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) (known previously as a statement of educational needs), they will likely need extra support in education which will be discussed and reviewed during their transition. The EHC Plan can be maintained until the young person concludes their education or is 25 years old, whichever comes sooner.

We've collected and answered some frequently asked questions from parents and carers on another page - we hope you find this useful. More general information is in the sections below.

A guide for 16-25 year olds with disabilities and additional needs

Suffolk County Council and its partners aim to ensure that children, young people and their families can live fulfilled lives, with more young people moving successfully into adulthood and independence. The Local Offer provides information, advice and guidance about opportunities that support children and young people with additional needs.

The Local Offer supports 16-25 year olds to have positive experiences of adolescence and should help these young people to progress towards gaining employment and contributing to their local communities.

The Local Offer is made up of four key components: Education, Health, Social Care and Informal Social, Learning and Leisure Opportunities.

This guide is about how to access these four components of support. As far as it’s possible to, the information below and linked websites include: 

  • What the services or opportunities are in each area
  • Access criteria and the process for accessing
  • Who can help you if you need additional support in accessing a service or opportunity

If you’d like to receive a paper copy of this information please email

Services and available opportunities

Search our directory for a list of organisations and services that are available.

Activities Unlimited have also been working with providers in Suffolk to detail the opportunities available for young people in transition.

Take a look at their website for more information.

Finding help

For anyone looking for the latest information about how to support young people with SEND who are making the transition into adulthood follow the Suffolk Local Offer feed on Twitter.

Sometimes it's hard to work out where to get help. Here are some important contact details when you have tried the other contacts or information sources you have found, or been given: 

If you're trying to contact a team regarding services for you (or for someone you care for), or for general queries about care and support, please contact Customer First


Or ring 0808 800 4005 between 8am and 6:45pm Monday-Friday. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles. Customer First is also online: you can visit and click ‘Chat with us’ in the lower-right corner of your screen. The web chat service is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

NHS 111 - non-emergency health advice

You can call 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. Call 111 if: 

  • you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you don't know who to call or you don't have a GP to call 
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next 
  • you may be seeking help when something has gone wrong 

Further sources for information and advice 

SENDIASS provides impartial information, advice and support to parents of children with special education needs or disabilities (SEND) and young people with SEND up to the age of 25. 

Parents and young people in Suffolk can contact the SENDIASS helpline on 01473 265210.

About general issues around preparing for adulthood, contact our Local Offer Team - Email:

Preparing for the world of work

Schools will address this through the curriculum, with careers advice and the world of work being introduced from Year 8. It's often hard for a young person to think about what they may want to achieve from their adulthood when they are in their early teens. But early planning is the key to success and so it's really helpful if parents and carers can work with their young people to start thinking about this.

Suffolk County Council’s website for young people, The Source, is a good place to start looking for information, advice and guidance for all aspects of a young person’s life.

You can also visit the National Careers Service website for more information.

SENDsational Opportunities

SENDsational is a campaign to attract local employers to offer opportunities for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. We are currently working with local, further education colleges and 6th Form centres to try and find more workplace opportunities.

Being a young person with a learning disability can present a huge challenge when trying to break into the world of work. For many, it can be very difficult to transfer skills learned in a classroom setting into a work environment.

All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience, and achieve the qualifications they need to succeed.

This can be achieved through:

  • Work experience
  • A traineeship
  • Supported internship

For more information please email

If you are interested in becoming a SENDsational employer, visit the County Council website for more information. 

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