Transitions to adulthood strategy: statement of intent

This statement of intent summarises the research and engagement to date on Scotland’s first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy, and sets out what the Scottish Government has heard it should focus on in order to improve the lived experiences of transitions for Scotland’s disabled young people.


Becoming an adult is an important time in a young person's life. It can be exciting, but also daunting. It can be a time of hope, but also of uncertainty. We know that for many disabled young people the transition to young adult life presents challenges. It is therefore critical that we support disabled young people to have as positive an experience as possible during this time of change.

Across the Scottish Government, there is already a range of legislation and policies in place that support the objective of improving transitions to adulthood for disabled young people, and we are committed to doing more. In the 2021 Programme for Government, Scottish Ministers committed to introducing Scotland's first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy for disabled young people in this Parliamentary term, to ensure there is a joined up approach so that all disabled young people can experience a supported and positive transition to adult life. This was reaffirmed in the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills' policy priorities outlined in the First Minister's Policy Prospectus, published on 18 April 2023.

This commitment to disabled young people in their transition to adulthood supports our ambition to enhance and embed children's human rights, and the rights of disabled people in every aspect of life in Scotland. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the internationally mandated children's rights treaty that informs our strategies and programmes. Article 23 states:

'States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community…'

It also contributes more broadly towards Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), and the following key outcomes within our National Performance Framework:

  • children and young people grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential;
  • we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe; and
  • we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.

We want to build upon the solid foundations of the existing policy and legislative framework, as well as effective practice, research and stakeholder views, to develop Scotland's first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy. To support this, we have:

  • Formed an External Strategic Working Group to co-develop the strategy and support its implementation.
  • Discussed transitions with disabled young people – Children in Scotland's Inclusion Ambassadors; Independent Living Fund's (ILF) Young Ambassadors for Inclusion; and the Association for Real Change (ARC) Scotland's Divergent Influencers.
  • Supported ARC Scotland, a third sector organisation who run the Scottish Transitions Forum, to trial Principles into Practice in 10 local authority areas to improve the lived experiences of young people who need additional support as they make the transition to young adult life, and to develop 'Compass' – a web-based tool which provides tailored information and advice to young people, parent carers and professionals to help navigate transitions.
  • Supported a sub-group of the Disabled Children and Young People's Advisory Group to find out what matters to disabled young people with complex needs and whose voices are seldom heard, and their parent carers and families.

We want to thank all of the partners who have contributed to this work so far, and whose valuable insights have helped shape this Statement of Intent.

This Statement of Intent summarises what we have heard to date through our research and engagement. Based on that evidence, it signals our ambition by setting out what we think a strategy should focus on to improve the lived experiences of Scotland's disabled young people as they make the transition to adulthood.

The following pages set out the rationale along with the proposed scope, vision and priorities for Scotland's first National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy. It is not the final strategy; it is an opportunity for you to tell us whether you agree with what we have heard so far.

We want to gather wider views on whether the draft vision and priorities are the right ones, ultimately for inclusion in the strategy. Your feedback on this Statement of Intent will help to shape the strategy and a set of aims and measurable actions which will be consulted on more widely in 2024.

By working together, we can ensure that all disabled young people making the transition to adulthood in Scotland are empowered to achieve their full potential.

Natalie Don, Minister for Children, Young People & Keeping the Promise

Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees



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