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Transition from School to Work: Tips for Successful Outcomes, Pat Rogan, PhD.

 From Work to Include Newsletter

For young adults with disabilities and their families, the transition from high school to adult life can be a challenging experience.  Even though transition planning is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all students who have an individualized education program (IEP), beginning by age 14 or 9th grade in Indiana, adults with disabilities still struggle to achieve competitive employment and engage in continued education and training. For example, the national rate for youth with disabilities, ages 20–24, was about half that of their peers without disabilities (38% and 67%, respectively) (Child Trends, The ideal outcome of good transition planning is the uninterrupted movement to adult life, including postsecondary education or training and/or community employment, leisure time opportunities, and community living.     The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that Transition IEPs address postsecondary goals in the areas of vocational training, postsecondary education, employment, and independent living, as well as Transition services (e.g., college/career exploration and counseling, community experiences, accommodations, and independent living skills. To achieve a seamless transition and desired adult life outcomes, we offer the following tips.Develop Self-advocacy and Self-determination Skills.     Youth with disabilities must be taught to be strong self-advocates and to make choices and decisions about their life, beginning at a young age. These skills must be practiced and supported throughout their K-12 education, including as part of Transition planning, and continuing into adulthood. Once a student graduates from high school, they become responsible for disclosing their disability to their postsecondary institution or employer. Such disclosure is required to receive accommodations.Actively Participate in Transition Planning and Services.     Students with disabilities, family members, school personnel, and adult service personnel must be active participants in the development of Transition plans, including robust Transition goals and preparatory experiences during high school. The 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) focuses on the need for all youth with disabilities to have more opportunities to practice and improve their workplace skills, to consider their career interests, and to get real-world work experience. This law supports students with disabilities during their transition in several ways:

  • Requires state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to set aside at least 15% of their program funds to provide pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) to help high school students with disabilities make the transition to postsecondary education and employment;
  • Requires that these transition services be made available to all students with disabilities, including those with 504 plans;
  • Requires states to coordinate services including those for youth transitioning from high school to postsecondary education;
  • Improves access to job training, education, and employment services for those who face barriers to employment; and
  • Ensures that employment and training services are accessible to people with disabilities through nearly 2,500 American Job Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Explore & Obtain Desired Adult Services     After a student leaves school, adult service providers may be involved in providing supports. Students with disabilities move from an entitlement program to eligibility programs, often with different application processes, different eligibility requirements, and different available supports. There are different agencies for different needs such as community living, employment, and postsecondary education and training. Therefore, it is imperative that students and their families explore and select desired adult service options prior to exiting high school and work through the application and eligibility processes.     In order to support students and their families, school district personnel should develop partnerships with local businesses, relationships with higher education institutions, and familiarity with adult service providers in their area.Learn about Guardianship, Benefits, ABLE Accounts, and More     Students with disabilities become emancipated adults at age 18 unless parents seek some form of guardianship. Individuals with disabilities and families need to know how employment impacts benefits, and how ABLE accounts can be used to save money.     To learn more about Transition planning and services, please explore the following Indiana resources.

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