FAQs - Northern Ireland
Planning for leaving education starts from age 14 at the Transition Planning Review which is organised by the Education Authority. Most parents usually wait until the penultimate year at school to research in more detail the options and application process and will involve their son/daughter at this stage. This is a good time to begin to gradually prepare young people for what they will do when they leave school. Preparing for leaving school can take a long time as new skills and independence will need to be developed. In the preparation section there are some practical ideas about what tasks you could begin asking your son/daughter to do to develop their independence around the house and when out in the community.
There are a number of agencies that can offer support, advice and guidance about post school options. They include the school, Transition Co-Ordinators from the Education Authority, your Social Worker, Careers Advisors and voluntary organisations that your son/daughter is involved with. Support can include information about potential options, how to apply for a place, arranging visits and practical support with preparing your child for leaving school. Agencies can also provide advice on social security entitlements and other adult services such as respite or supported living options.
This is very individual and will depend on the assessed needs of your young person as well as the option they are choosing. For example some college courses offer four days per week and some statutory and voluntary providers do not offer a full time programme either. It’s important to discuss with your social worker at an early stage the number of days your son/daughter may be offered as this can have implications for other aspects of home life eg parental working hours, availability of supervision etc
Most providers are more than happy to receive phone calls from parents and arrange an informal visit to see around a service without making a commitment. A social worker can also arrange for more formal opportunities to visit services which are funded by the Health Trusts. Many colleges and voluntary providers offer open days which young people, as well as their parents/carers, can attend.
Having a social worker often depends on the assessed needs of your young person. If you are considering applying for services that are funded by your local Health Trust you will need a social worker to assist with this. A social worker can guide you and your young adult through the process and inform you of available services and options. They can also assist you to complete the application to services including day opportunities as well as respite and supported living options.
This will depend on the service your son/daughter transitions to. For example, statutory day care services usually provide transport while Further Education colleges do not usually provide transport. An exception is BMC which may be able to provide transport for the first year depending on where you live. Voluntary sector day opportunity providers such as Orchardville, Promote, Triangle etc generally do not provide transport.
Transport options available include DATS which is managed by Disability Action and local Community buses such as Down Community Transport. You can register for these options by viewing their websites and your young person usually needs to be in receipt of DLA or PIP. Young people can apply for a Translink Smartpass which will entitle them to half price travel on buses and trains.
The cost of attending services is either met through a contract providers have with the Health Trust or in some situations through Self Directed Support (SDS) either as a direct payment or managed budget. Employment programmes are usually funded by the European Social Fund, Department for the Communities and Health Trusts. You may be asked to make a small contribution towards the cost of activities your son/daughter takes part in and most providers usually encourage young people to have a small amount of cash with them each day if they are out in the community and want to buy a coffee or their lunch.
FAQs - Ireland
Although planning may not officially begin until 1-2 years before a young person is due to leave school, it is recommended that a family begin thinking about transition from about the age of 14. Remember, in addition to considering where a young adult may be transitioning to, there are many skills the youth should develop to prepare for independence. These skills may or may not be addressed as part of their school curriculum, so it is important to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for practice.
You will find more information about these skills and how you can plan activities to teach and practice these skills in the Preparation section of this website.
Supports will vary depending on your young person’s school, and the level of support needs. Some pupils will be supported by the school guidance counsellor. However, many young people will require additional, more specialised support available from the Occupational Guidance Officer and accessed through your local HSE Disability Services. Educators and possibly other service providers such as Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, and Psychologists will also play a key role in supporting your son/daughter through this transition process.
In some regions, there may be other organisations or initiatives offering formal transition programmes, although these are relatively new at this point. Your school or Occupational Guidance Officer should be aware of any options available in your area.
This is very individual and will depend on the assessed needs of your young person as well as the option they are choosing. For example, some further education programmes will be full-time, others part-time. Similarly, day services should be centred around your young person’s preferences and needs, and thus schedules may vary. It is important to discuss this with the Occupational Guidance Officer when needs are assessed, as this can have implications for other aspects of home life (e.g. parental working hours, availability of supervision).
Most providers are happy to field phone calls from parents and arrange an informal visit to view a service without making a commitment. The Occupational Guidance Officer can also arrange for more formal opportunities to visit services funded by the HSE. And many colleges and training centres offer open days which young people, as well as their parents/carers, can attend.
This will depend on the service your son/daughter transitions to. For example, HSE funded services may provide transport, while transportation would not typically be arranged for Further Education and Training programmes. However, individuals in receipt of Disability Allowance are entitled to free travel on most public transport services including the bus, rail, and Dublin Luas. Where deemed necessary by a medical professional, this free travel can extend to one adult companion.
Day services or rehabilitative training approved as a result of the review by the Occupational Guidance Counsellor will be funded by the Health Services Executive. There should be no cost to the family for the service, although there may be small contributions towards the costs of activities. Most providers usually encourage young people to have a small amount of pocket money with them each day if they are out in the community and want to buy a coffee or their lunch.
Where a young adult wishes to progress to further or higher education, there are various benefits or payments that may fully, or partially cover costs of education, sometimes even travel and meals. Many of these programmes or benefits are funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Some examples include YouthReach or the Back to Education Programme, but there are many more. You’ll find more information on the Citizens Information website, or contact your local Intreo office.