NDIS plans: what happens when children turn 18
When children turn 18, they legally become adults. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) encourages adults to be involved in making their own decisions.
If your child has an NDIS plan, they’ll be encouraged to become responsible for managing their plan when they turn 18 if they can.
Preparing children to manage their own NDIS plans
Early preparation gives your child opportunities to learn and practise skills for managing their own NDIS plan.
This includes skills for:
- setting goals and identifying supports for their plan
- choosing NDIS providers
- communicating with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and health professionals
- advocating for themselves and making informed decisions
- using NDIS support budgets as well as general budgeting
- organising information about their plan – for example, keeping invoices and reports.
If you start preparing your child early and help your child build skills over a longer period, you can see where your child might need support. You can include this support in your child’s NDIS plan. For example, you could include funding for your child to do a course on budgeting skills.
Building basic skills for managing NDIS plans: children and pre-teens
You might be able to start building your child’s skills for managing their NDIS plan when your child is still at primary school.
Here are ways to build skills for primary school-age children:
- Talk with your child about their goals, and encourage your child to make choices. For example, if your child’s goal is to make new friends, you could make a list of clubs or activities together and help your child choose one. You might be able to use visual supports to help your child choose.
- Involve your child if you’re interviewing new support workers. For example, your child could think of questions to ask.
- Involve your child in plan review meetings. For example, your child could tell their NDIS professional about skills they’ve learned during the last plan.
- Build your child’s confidence to talk about their disability. For example, you could develop a child-friendly explanation of their condition, which your child can practise and use when talking with teachers, other children or parents.
- Help your child develop organisational and record-keeping skills. For example, you could create a computer folder and show your child how to save documents.
Building specific skills for managing NDIS plans: teenagers
As your child gets older, you can help them develop specific skills for managing their NDIS plan. These might include skills for setting goals, choosing services and working with the NDIS.
Encourage your child to think about their:
- short-term goals, like taking part in the local soccer team
- long-term goals, like doing further study or work after they finish school.
Then ask your child about what could help them reach their goals. For example, if your child’s goal is to increase their independence in the community, it could be good for your child to have a support worker to help them take part in group activities.
- Ask for your child’s opinion on things like spending their NDIS funds and choosing NDIS providers. For example, if you live in a remote or rural area, your child might have the choice between a local general service or a more specialist visiting service that costs more.
- Encourage and prepare your child to talk to NDIS providers about their services. For example, if your child identifies as LGBTQ+ they could develop and ask questions to check whether a service will be LGBTQ+ friendly.
Working with the NDIS
- Involve your child in their plan reviews. For example, your child could prepare by thinking about how their supports have helped them work towards their goals and whether they want any new goals for their next plan. Let your child take the lead during the review.
- Explain the different options for managing NDIS funds, and talk with your child about which might work best for them. For example, your child might want to use a plan manager so they can have administrative support plus the flexibility to use a range of services.
- Help your child learn how to do the administration involved in their plan. For example, show your child how to lodge claims and then get your child to do it while you supervise.
When young people start managing their NDIS plans: support
If your child has turned 18 and has a disability that affects their decision-making abilities, they might need help to make decisions and manage their plan. Or your child might just want some support with the process.
You can keep helping your child to manage their plan as long as they want and need you to.
Your child can also get informal support from other family members and friends or formal support from an advocate, psychologist, NDIS support worker or another professional. These people can help your child by:
- explaining information
- helping your child build skills so that they can make more of their own decisions
- helping your child choose a service provider.
Your child can give permission for you and other people to talk to the NDIA. You and your child’s other support people won’t be able to make decisions for your child, but you can do things like represent your child at a plan review or access information in your child’s plan and advocate for them.
If your child can’t make decisions for themselves, even with support, they can appoint you or someone else as a nominee to make decisions and manage their NDIS plan for them.
Practical steps before children turn 18
Before your child turns 18, a few practical steps can help with shifting the responsibility for managing the NDIS plan to your child. For example:
- At your child’s plan review, make changes to the way your child’s plan is managed. For example, if you’ve been self-managing your child’s plan, it might be best for your child to move to plan management. You could also ensure support coordination is included in the plan.
- Think about how your child will pay for services. For example, if they’re going to self-manage their funds, they might need a myGov account.
- If your child wants to self-manage or plan-manage their NDIS funds, help your child set up a bank account that’s just for these funds.
- Ensure your child has asked for any nominees they want.
There are many resources that can help your child develop skills and knowledge to manage their own NDIS plan. For example, you and your child could use the NDIS articles and videos on raisingchildren.net.au and the Easy Read factsheets on the NDIS website.
Looking after yourself
It’s important to help your child to become more independent. But it can also be challenging to let go and trust your child to manage on their own.