Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales, began thinking
about the report after she met with a group of parents in North
Wales in 2016 and asked each one of them what they would do if they
had a magic wand.
One mother said, "For my daughter never to grow up. I know
it sounds terrible, but I have struggled so hard to get her the
education and support she needs, and I have no idea how she will be
supported when she's an adult." It was an answer that stuck
with Sally Holland and troubled her.
The report, Don't hold
back: Transitions to adulthood for young people with learning
disabilities, highlights many issues young people face as they
become adults and points out the limited choices and funding
available. Transition services, where they exist, vary greatly
across Wales and frequently fail because they do not place young
people at the centre of the planning process.
Being able to make the right choices depends on the availability
of the right information and too often this simply doesn't exist.
The report emphasises the importance of a coordinated response and
the positive impact a keyworker or a lead professional can have on
the outcomes for young people.
An easy read version of the
report is also available and can be downloaded here (PDF).
Engage to Change project
The report makes nine recommendations for improvement, including
a specific recommendation to build on the learning from Engage to
Change, the employment project led by Learning Disability Wales.
The project is working to assist 1000 young people with a learning
disability and/or autism into paid employment by 2021.
The Children's Commissioner makes clear it will be essential
that learning from the project is translated into lasting change.
This will ensure young people with learning disabilities have the
necessary skills to gain employment and enjoy improved wellbeing
through the independence this offers when leaving school or
As part of her recommendations Sally Holland has also committed
to monitoring how effective the Welsh Government 'Improving Lives'
programme is in ensuring young people with a learning disability
are able to live full lives.
Martyn Jones, Learning Disability Wales CEO, commented on the
"We are really pleased Sally has shone a light on this
important issue as the impact it has on the lives of young people
with learning disabilities in Wales cannot be overstated. The
transition from children's to adult services is perhaps the most
obvious area where clear weaknesses in the way we support young
people to live fulfilling, independent lives can be seen, often due
to a failure to involve them in planning processes.
"The Report calls into question how well legislation and
policy in Wales is utilised and carries a salutary reminder of the
rights that protect all children. We want young people with
learning disabilities to be able to contribute and benefit from
'Prosperity for All' as equal citizens and look forward to working
with Sally on the recommendations of the report and with Welsh
Government on the implementation of the 'Improving Lives'
"The life course will be the theme of our annual conference
'All our futures' this year and we are delighted Sally and Huw
Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social
Care, are joining us."
You can download the report and the easy read version from the
Children's Commissioner for Wales' website.
Photo shows Ashfrord Richards, who has had a
positive transition, on his eighteenth birthday, with friends from
his local youth theatre group. Now 21, Ashford works for Elite Paper Solutions and is an actor
with Hijinx Theatre.