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Transition Services: Moving from High School to Further Education and Work

< Children with Special Needs

Transition Services: Moving from High School to Further Education and Work

You can help your child make the transition into independent adulthood.

When your child reaches adulthood, he or she will transition out of the range of educational services guaranteed under IDEA. Beginning at least one year before your child reaches the age of majority (18-21, depending on your state law), the Individual Educational Program (IEP) must include a statement that your child has been informed of any rights that will transfer to him or her upon reaching that age.

Because transition regulations vary by state, you need to find out how your state handles the transition to adulthood for special needs children (see For More Information below for state contacts).

What Are Transition Services?

Transition services refer to activities meant to prepare students with disabilities for adult life. These can include:

  • Developing post-high school education and career goals;
  • Getting work experience while still in school;
  • Receiving special instruction and related services;
  • Developing employment and other post-high school adult living objectives;
  • Acquiring daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation;
  • Connecting with adult service providers such as vocational rehabilitation agencies in your city or state;
  • Post-high school education/vocational training;
  • Integrated employment, internships and apprenticeships;
  • Independent living; or
  • Community participation.
Your child should be fully involved in creating a transition plan with the IEP team. He or she can work with the team to assess abilities, skills and interests, so the plan will truly reflect your child's future life goals.

How Can I Help My Child with the Transition Plan?
  • Ask your child what his or her goals, skills and interests are.
  • If your child is unsure, help him or her identify interests (see Help Your Child Identify Interests in the Career Exploration topic of the ACRN parent section).
  • Encourage your child to attend all IEP meetings, so he or she can be fully involved when transition services are being addressed.
  • Find out about other government agencies, community groups, etc., that provide education, training, and career guidance in your community.
  • Talk with your child about what transition programs and services he or she needs, and wants to pursue.
Be sure to let your child's IEP team and school know if you feel your child's transition needs are not being adequately met by the IEP.

What Additional Services are Available to Help with Transition?

As your child moves from high school to post-high school education and training, he or she may be eligible for:
  • supplemental income;
  • disability income; and
  • state Department of Rehabilitation services.

This assistance can help your child pay for schooling, and provide the services and support necessary to complete school or succeed in the workplace. While your child is still in high school, you can help him or her apply for Supplemental Security Income, and meet with the local or state Department of Rehabilitation counselor.

In addition, all public and private postsecondary institutions are expected to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and the Rehabilitation Act (1973) to provide reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities who request them. You or your child can ask for these accommodations if they are not being provided.

It is important that you and your child explore all the options, services and resources available to him or her, since these services and resources can provide valuable physical, academic, social and financial assistance to your child after high school.

For more information:

Federal Resources:

Career Voyages (U.S. Department of Labor)

Ticket To Work (Social Security Administration)

Job Accommodation Network  (U.S. Department of Labor)

Jobs in the Federal Government (Office of Personnel Management) (Office of Personnel Management)

Workforce Recruitment Program (U.S. Department of Labor)

State Resources:

State Departments of Rehabilitation

State Departments of Education

State Departments of Labor and Youth Services

Social Security Administration Regional and Field Offices

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities--State Resources (NICHCY)

Career Clusters

Regional Resource Centers:

Northeast Regional Resource Center (NERRC)
Serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Mid-South Regional Resource Center (MSRRC)
Serves Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington D.C. and West Virginia.

Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC)
Serves Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

North Central Regional Resource Center (NCRRC)
Serves Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC)
Serves Arizona, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Western Regional Resource Center (WRRC)
Serves Alaska, American Samoa, California, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federates states of Micronesia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and Washington.

National Organizations:

Council for Exceptional Children

Jobs for America's Graduates, Inc.

Families and Advocates Partnerships for Education

Mobility International, USA

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)

National Clearinghouse On Postsecondary Education For Individuals With Disabilities

National Youth Leadership Network
Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Center
Transcen, Inc.

College Funding Strategies for Students with Disabilities (University of Washington, 2003)

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