Transition Services - The term transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
A. Is designed to be a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities. This will include post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
B. Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences, and interests;
C. Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
Most school systems have a Special Education Department to house the activities of the administrators who organize these services for students in the community. Since the 1970's when Public Law 94-142 was being implemented, these departments have grown as children enter and leave the system and parents become more knowledgeable about the services that are available to them.
One of the most complex and intimidating parts of the law refers to creating services for students when they age out of the system. Families have had special education facilities and services available to them from elementary school right up to the time of graduation; now, it seems, they will have to fend for themselves. I know from my experience that schools are more than willing to continue providing support for students long after they leave the public school system. Parents know that the professionals they have met through the years are their friends, and their advice is always useful and supportive.
The legal responsibility lasts until the end of the school year following a child's 21st birthday or, whenever the student accepts a diploma - whichever comes first. Obviously, the goal for all students is to obtain the diploma, but we know that some students will not reach this level. Children are often encouraged to work with vocational advisors to develop a suitable career path. The best approach for parents and teachers is to create a solid IEP history that begins to identify the path from the early grades. When you hold team meetings it's often hard to stay focused because there are so many issues to talk about with so little time.
Services to provide a seamless path through this system into adulthood do not come cheap.
When the law was first being implemented, it seemed that all people talked about was the cost. However, over time, it became obvious that it was all an investment. An investment in children and their future is always a good thing. Another challenge is with interpreting the law. There is no clear language that defines how transitioning should look. Without the diploma, there is no exit strategy provided.
The public schools are also required to provide transition services to private school children in the community. After many court battles, it was determined that private school kids deserved to participate in all that we could provide. The key is federal dollars. Many of the services that are set up in the public schools are paid for with federal money. It wouldn't be right to deny the same level of care to a student just because he's enrolled in the private school down the street.
I've collected some reading that may help you if you're helping a family transition out of the system.
· Transition Tips for Students - learn self-advocacy strategies
How does your school district navigate these difficult waters?
Grant Name: Educational Grants\
Funded By: The Ambrose Monell Foundation
Description: Giving on a national basis to improve the physical, mental, and moral condition of humanity throughout the world. Giving largely for hospitals and health services, scientific research, museums, performing arts, and other cultural activities, and higher and secondary education; support also for social services, research in political science, mental health, and aid to the handicapped. No grants to individuals.
Program Areas: Adult Learning, Disabilities, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other
Proposal Deadline: 4/30/2016
Annual Total Amount: $9,000,000.00
Average Amount: $5,000.00 - $100,000.00
Address: c/o Fulton, Rowe, & Hart, 1 Rockefeller Plz., Ste. 301, New York, NY 10020-2002
Website: The Ambrose Monell Foundation
Availability: All States