Transition Planning

Transition Planning: Your child's school district Committee on Special Education is required by both federal and state regulations before age 14 to begin to help you and your child develop a transition plan from school to life after school -- meeting with you, your child and community agencies to discuss what skills and knowledge your child will need as an adult. Planning discussions should begin during a student's IEP meetings. Programs and services are planned to prepare a student to achieve adult life goals. These programs and service become part of your child's IEP to be reviewed and updated annually until your child completes school or reaches the age of 21.

Legal Definition

The term 'transition services' shall mean a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability, designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated competitive employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. The coordinated set of activities shall be based upon the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests, and shall include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functioning vocational evaluation. (8 NYCRR 200.1(rr))

Transition Timeline

What to do and when!

Start by Age 12

  • Begin to explore vocational interests, aptitudes and abilities.

No Later than Age 16

  • Identify vocational interests and skills that the student can use in a career.
  • Include activities such as career exploration, job sampling, visit Vo-Tech and some job training when possible.
  • Begin to identify community services that provide job training placement and other community resources.
  • Consider summer employment or volunteer experiences.
  • Obtain working papers from the school.
  • Participate in school clubs and activities.
  • Parents re-examine wills and trusts.

Age 16 - Age 18

  • Have discussion with school about colleges, vocational or technical schools.
  • Examine Social Security Benefits.
  • Think seriously about residential or Independent Living services.
  • Identify Supportive Employment programs.
  • Apply for State vocational services, i.e. VESID two years prior to graduation.
  • Transportation: use of public transportation, travel training, ride sharing, driver's license training.

Age 17 - Age 18

  • Parents address legal issues of guardianship and emancipation.
  • Continue to update transition plan.
  • Have student visit colleges/career training schools. Talk to developmental disability services office also.
  • Register with college disability services office by the end of senior year.

Age 18

  • Male students register with Selective Service (U.S. Post Office).
  • Register to vote.
  • Parents review health insurance (private or Medicaid).
  • Apply or recertify for Social Security disability benefits.

Things to consider at any age.

  • Is the student eligible for Social Security disability benefits?
  • Is the student receiving service coordination services (case management) through a Medicaid Waiver?
  • Is the student involved with recreation and leisure activities?
  • Are medical counseling needs being addressed?
  • Increase the student's responsibilities at home (chores, allowance).

Keep all original documents in a safe place and make copies available of the following:
  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Immigration Papers
  • Medical records including immunization record
  • Latest IEP
  • Working Papers

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for School to Work Transition Planning

1. Explain the goals of transition planning – what does it mean to students?
2. Describe what students can/should expect.
3. Ask students questions to make sure they understand.
4. Ask students where they need help and how you can help. Encourage students to identify their needs.
5. Research what supports and services are available to students including other agencies.
6. Encourage students to talk about their goals and dreams; discuss ways to support them in the Transitional Plan.
7. Keep open lines of communication between all members of the IEP Team, especially students.
8. Be an advocate for students.
9. Acknowledge strengths and successes.
10. Encourage self advocacy!

1. Don't underestimate the relationship between transition planning and student’s future success.
2. Don't forget students are young adults; treat them with respect so they can in turn respect themselves.
3. Don't forget how important it is for students to have a positive outlook about their future.
4. Don't rush…give students time to formulate their thoughts, questions and ideas.
5. Don't expect to have all the answers, LISTEN.
6. Don't say you’re going to do something and then not do it.
7. Don't wait until students are 16 years old before you discuss transition, plant the seed NOW!
8. Don't assume students understand what’s happening. If they understand they are able to participate.
9. Don't assume students know who you are and what your role is, EXPLAIN!
10. Don't assume anything!

For each student and their family, transition planning only happens once.

Make it Matter, Make it Real. It Will Make a Difference!

Source: Youth Leadership Forum Alumni, a program sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, July 2006

Transition Planning Research

View government GAO Report, Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness: Some States and Federal Agencies Are Taking Steps To Address Their Transition Challenges, which found (1) the number of these young adults and their demographic characteristics, (2) the challenges they face, (3) how selected states assist them, and (4) how the federal government supports states in serving these young adults and coordinates programs that can assist them.

Free Transition Planning Resource Materials

Transition to Adult Living: A Guide for Secondary Education is a comprehensive handbook written for students, parents, and teachers. It offers practical guidance and resources in support of transition efforts for students with disabilities as they move from their junior high and high school years into the world of adulthood and/or independent living.

Transition Services: A Planning and Implementation Guide through the NYS Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) also provides information about VESID's statewide networks that provide technical assistance, information and referral services for children and adults with disabilities.

The Transition Services guide provides parents and students with the opportunity and methods to prepare secondary students with disabilities for living, learning, working, and participating much more successfully in the community as adults. Together with guidelines for helping you to implement a planning process that enhances the results of the individualized education program (IEP) for students with a disability.

Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, is published by the Organization for Autism Research and designed to give parents, teachers and other education professionals an introduction to the transition to adulthood process.

The Career Development and Occupational Studies Standards site is a Curriculum Resource Guide focusing on several areas, one of which is in Career Development and Occupational Studies and the relationship of the subject area to the NYS Learning Standards.

Career Zone is a career exploration system designed for middle and high school students by the NYS Dept. of Labor with a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. It is an interactive site designed to encourage students to explore career options as a means of making informed choices about their future.

Enable: The Person Centered Planning Education Site gives an overview of the person-centered transition planning process, a self-study course covering the basic process involved and many links and resources related to person-centered transition planning.

MoreTransition Planning Resource Materials

The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) NCSET provides workshops, national summits, and teleconferences and provides technical assistance and outreach related to transition programs and services.

Next Step Outreach Grant Discover how students can learn to participate in their own transition planning process within general education settings. An introductory video and downloadable User's Guide are included. The video includes student and teach comments. The User's Guide includes teacher recommendations and links to the NYS Learning Standards.

Transition Research Institute (TRI) TRI at the University of Illinois, identifies effective practices, conducts intervention and evaluation research, provides technical assistance activities that promote the successful transition of youth with disabilities from school to adult life. The site also provides information about research on these topics.

Transition Articles

Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work by Temple Grandin

Autism Action Plan

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