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Kids releases revealing report: On the Cliff Edge

Our report ‘On The Cliff Edge’ documents the experience of young people with special educational needs and disabilities as they move from childhood into adulthood, and makes recommendations for urgent improvements to an entirely broken support system.

A broken support system

The existing challenges faced by young people with SEND are further exacerbated by a profoundly inadequate system of transition support in England. It’s too hard to find information about options for the future, leaves young people waiting without the vital support they need, and too often fails to meaningfully include them in society.

The cliff edge depicts how the support system is leaving too many young people with SEND and their parents on the precipice. The more complex the needs, the steeper the cliff edge. The scale of the problem must not be underestimated, nor the impact it has on family relationships, finances, and mental health.

The new report documents wide-ranging experiences of young people with SEND including young people left without any support for two years before they could access adults’ services; cases of young people being evicted unlawfully or being dismissed from their job without being offered adequate support; and cases of young people, especially those with the most complex needs, who are excluded from society.

The report calls for transitions into adulthood to be transformed once and for all. It recommends that the Government must step up and demonstrate action on a national level to fix the disjointed transitions support system by appointing a Minister for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who will take responsibility for fixing the disjointed transition support system and close the support gaps within one term of office. This cannot be done without local authority commissioners who must comply with the law and catalyse access to timely, quality transition support. The report also recommends that a new national cross-sector alliance should convene and collaborate to achieve transformational change, led by young people’s and families’ expertise.

“There were nights when I would lay up and think ‘what’s next?’

I have to do things, I have to put things in place. I was very scared, but oh it was very overwhelming.”

– A young person with SEND

How we’re driving change

Katie Ghose, Kids Chief Executive, said “the term ‘cliff edge’ crops up again and again. Whatever pathway young people with SEND they have been navigating through childhood, the cliff edge comes as they face a huge gap in support when they move from children’s to adults’ services. This leaves so many families desperately struggling to fill the gap.

“Fresh thinking and urgent action are needed. There are many examples out there of young people with SEND receiving life-changing support that helps to flatten the cliff edge. In creating this report, we worked with young people, parents and practitioners who came up with some practical ideas and solutions to address the challenges. Their inspiring ideas include a ‘transition mentor’ who would provide targeted support for young people, maintaining contact and continuity to a support a young person with SEND to navigate the world. And a ‘transition house’ service, based in a local building, would provide a space where young people can come and learn real life skills and prepare for their next steps.

Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to live a good life, but for many young people with SEND transitioning into adulthood, the current support system simply does not provide them with that basic right. That needs to change.”

Report authored by Will Bibby and Laurie Blair of Anthill Collective.

Five key areas for action

Working with young people with SEND, parents and stakeholders, Kids identified five key areas for action through its report:

  1. Navigating the system through advocacy and support
  2. Supporting young people with SEND to develop life skills
  3. Supporting young people with SEND to find and keep work, where employment is an option for them
  4. Leaving no-one out: increasing opportunities for social activities and peer connection
  5. Family Support: facilitating connections between parents for peer support and advice

Read our report

Our report is available in full, or as a summary version.

Exploring the potential for a cross-sector alliance

Kids is speaking up to catalyse change and stimulate action by the Government.

We can collectively achieve maximum impact by collaborating and speaking up together. Using our networks to engage local and national policy stakeholders, we can elevate the importance of transition support policy in the run-up to the upcoming General Election.

We’d like to explore the idea of a new national cross-sector alliance to catalyse change. Please fill out your details in the form below to connect and collaborate on how to transform transition support.

We’re speaking up for young people with SEND

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