The young person turns 16 – services and support change in many ways

Erja Pietiläinen, Senior Advisor, child and family policy
The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Originally published in the Finnish edition of the Handbook on Disability Services by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (Vammaispalvelujen käsikirja)

As a young person approaches adulthood, many things change. Age brings new rights to the young person, and they also come with responsibilities.

The table below describes the key changes in terms of services and young people who are becoming independent. Young clients should be transferred according to plan, through accompanied transfer, from the services for children to the services for young people and adults. The authorities should make sure that the young person continues to have access to the services and support they need.

The young person and their family should prepare for changes in the young person’s services and support. There may also be various age-related limits in hobbies and other recreational activities.

When the young person turns 16, the benefits for childhood and early adolescence will stop and they will have to e.g. reapply for Kela’s benefits. Benefits and financial aid are mainly related to subsistence, studying and supporting other daily life. Changes may also occur in healthcare and social welfare services.

Usually, the young person is still in basic education at this stage. They are approaching the transition following basic education. It is therefore important to prepare for the changes well in advance so that the transition will be as smooth as possible without any interruptions in services or support.

In addition to the young person themselves, their parents, teaching staff and other key people in this situation are involved in the different stages of the transition.

Things to consider when planning services for a young person

1. Service plan

It is important to update the service plan and make sure that the financial aid and services that the young person and their family receive continue flexibly and without unnecessary breaks.

The young person’s goals, hobbies and interests, in particular, should be discussed. They help to make sense of the young person’s need for help and support and their eligibility for personal assistance and transportation and escorting services, for example.

2. Kela’s allowances and compensations for people aged 16 years or older 

It is important that the young person contacts Kela’s personal consultation service where their overall situation will be assessed and their applications updated. Kela’s personal consultation service is designed specifically for ill and disabled clients. The consultation meeting is a good opportunity to talk about, e.g., disability allowance, rehabilitation allowance, a possible pension and the related care allowance, financial aid for students, assistive devices related to studying and the interpreter service.

3. Rehabilitation plan 

The rehabilitation plan prepared by the health service should be updated. This plan is a required attachment in several applications. If you apply for rehabilitation allowance for young persons, you need a personal study and rehabilitation plan that is drawn up together with the educational institution.

4. Applying for a place to study

A basic education-aged pupil can obtain information about further studies and career choices from the guidance counsellor.

Having completing their compulsory education, the young person can pursue upper secondary education, that is, study in a general upper secondary school or upper secondary vocational education and training. Special needs education is also available in both, if needed. The young person can also apply to a vocational special education institution, apprenticeship training or preparatory education and rehabilitative instruction.

A disabled student or a student who needs special support for some other reason is entitled to assistant services, other instruction and student welfare services and the special assistive devices that they need in their studies.

The young person may be eligible for financial aid for students from Kela. Financial aid for students includes a study grant, a housing supplement and a government guarantee for a student loan. A young person receiving pension cannot receive financial aid for students, but they can receive rehabilitation allowance during their time of study. It is also possible to apply for scholarships from a number of organizations.

5. Moving out to live independently 

Moving out from your childhood home is always a big step that should be carefully planned. You should talk to the young person about where and how they want to live and what kind of support they will need.

Living assessment or coaching (so-called coaching for independent living or moving training) can be granted to support the move.

6. Disability pension or rehabilitation allowance? 

The young person may be eligible for Kela’s disability pension if an illness, defect or injury prevents them from being able to work to secure a reasonable income.

Typically, a young person under the age of 20 is not granted a pension before assessing their opportunities to participate in vocational rehabilitation. During vocational education or rehabilitation, Kela can pay rehabilitation allowance to a severely disabled young person.

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