Ensuring a Successful Transition for your Child
When does transition begin?
It is natural for families to begin to consider what adulthood will look like for their child as he or she approaches adolescence. When a child is around 12 years old, staff too are seeking to understand the child’s strengths, preferences and interests. The emphasis in the entire transition process is for the child, parents and staff to all work together so that the child is prepared to be as independent as possible in adulthood utilizing services in the least restrictive community setting.
What are the phases leading up to transition to adulthood?
NY State Education requirements (PDF) call for all special education students to receive transition services from 15 years until the time of aging out at 21. It is the responsibility of the CSE to ensure transitional goals are included in your child’s IEP as appropriate. An assessment of vocational interests and abilities becomes the basis for transition goals to be written into the Individual’s Education Plan (IEP). In children with complex special needs, there can be a great deal of variability in performance between the ages of 12 to 16 years due to natural maturity and co-occurring medical and behavioral health conditions. These changes are monitored by parents and staff on a regular basis with activities offered to support the student to develop vocational and life skills. From 18-21 years, full focus is placed on vocational preparation and the identification of adult service supports as needed.
What is the parent’s/legal guardian’s role?
Participation by parents/legal guardians in all phases of the transition process is essential. Parents are encouraged to attend annual CSE and program meetings in person to be part of progress reviews and the revision of plans. For children to receive adult services through the NY Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), eligibility must be determined and can be initiated in the school year that the child turns 18 years old. For children already in the residential program, parents are contacted when required documents will be sent to OPWDD for adult eligibility. After reviewing the child’s information, OPWDD will communicate directly with the parent(s) regarding opportunities for adult services. Parents need to be attentive to respond during this “matching” process if funding for adult services is desired. If a child is neither in the residential program nor involved in OPWDD services and adult services are desired, parents need to contact the OPWDD office in their county of residence to go through the OPWDD “Front Door” eligibility process (external website link).
What services are provided by the Transition Program?
Our team of Transition Specialists work to support you the parent, your child and staff beginning when your child turns 15 years old. Transition Specialists are assigned to residential program students joining their teams to support vocational assessments and plans for vocational activities. Transition Specialists can provide education about the transition process and look into parent questions as needed.