Why do I need to start the transition process while my child is still in school?

Special educators and families accessing community and adult agencies may feel like they have stepped into an overwhelming and complicated maze of new rules, regulations and requirements.  Or, they may not have enough information to know where to begin. Special education services are mandated or required for all eligible students with disabilities in the public education system.

That is not the case in the adult world. While good services exist, the method for accessing these services is different from the school system. Adult and community services may have eligibility requirements, waiting lists and service gaps.  With declining resources and incredible demands on the community and adult service providers, partnership between the school, family, and agencies is critical.

Early planning, intentional linkages to appropriate agencies and coordination of services are critical to the successful transition of students with disabilities to the adult world.  IDEA requires that the student’s IEP include statements of interagency responsibilities or any linkages that are needed for the student to successfully transition (300.347(b)(2)). To accomplish this, the district must invite a representative from any agency that is likely to provide or pay for transition services to the IEP meeting and take other steps to obtain participation of community agencies in the planning of transition services (300.344(b)(3)).  These steps may include arranging regularly scheduled visits of agency representatives to the school, co-sponsoring agency nights for parents and students, sharing written materials with families, facilitating the referral process to various agencies, and arranging visits to community colleges and agency offices.

There are many agencies that serve youth and adults with disabilities. Some offer vocational and residential services, others provide personal support or financial assistance. The agencies that should be involved will vary from person to person depending on individual needs. A good starting place is to begin with the major state agencies. These agencies have services available throughout the state and the counselors will know of other resources available in your local area. 

Questions for an Agency:

  • Agency Name

  • What services does your agency provide?

  • What are the eligibility requirements?

  • How old does an individual need to be to apply for and receive your services?

  • Is there a waiting list for your services?

  • Is there a fee for services offered?

  • Do you provide vocational evaluation?

  • What is my role and level of involvement?

  • Do you provide financial assistance toward vocational training or post-secondary education?

  • Do you offer tutorial help?

  • Do you provide job placement?

  • Do you provide on the job training?

  • Do you offer individual or family counseling?

  • What information and documentation is required in order to apply for services?