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How you are involved in decisions about your future
As you become older you will start to become more involved in making decisions about your future. Legally at the end of the school year in which you turn 16, if you fully understand the issues of a decision to be made, such as deciding whether to go to college or get a job, you have the right to decide even if your parents disagree. You can ask your parents, or other close family members, friends or an advocate to help you make decisions. They may be involved as little or as much as you want. However, when a person cannot make their own decision, they are said to lack capacity and the people who know them best then make the decision for them in their best interests under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
A person’s ability to make a decision may vary depending on the decision. For example, they may be able to decide what clothes to wear but be unable to make decisions on where to live. In any circumstances, the young person should be involved and consulted as much as possible.
How parents are involved in making decisions about their child’s future
For very young children, decisions will be made on their behalf by you as their parent/carer or someone with parental responsibility. However, as children get older, gradually more and more decisions can be made by them. In some specific circumstances their own decision making rights may supersede those of you as parents.
It is important to note that after the year in which they turn 16 years old, young people are able to make decisions in their own right such as consenting to medical treatment. The right to make requests and decisions under the Children and Families Act 2014, such as decisions relating to EHC plans, applies directly to young people at this point, rather than their parents. However, this is subject to their capacity to do so as set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. As parents, you can continue to support them to make decisions, or act on their behalf, providing they are happy for you to do so. It is likely that you as parents will remain closely involved. In cases where a person lacks mental capacity to make a particular decision, that decision will be taken by a representative on their behalf. In most cases this will be by you as their parent. It is important that your son or daughter is helped to make decisions themselves wherever possible.
Useful information for parent/carers on decision making and mental capacity: