While many students with disabilities across the country meet the academic requirements to earn their highs school diploma, they so not necessarily meet the goals in their IEPs for transition to adulthood. Yet the regulations set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) stipulate that a student is not eligible for services under IDEA once a diploma has been earned and issued. This conundrum has had special educators perplexed, parents frustrated and students confused about next steps.
One Iowa school district has a solution, thanks to a grant for transition to employment. It has launched a program to aid students with disabilities who have met their graduation requirements but need to continue to work on transition goals.
Dubuque Community Schools soon will begin its new Summit Program for certain students who receive special-education services.
Lori Anderson, transition facilitator with the district, said the new program combines the best aspects of the district’s Lifetime Center and Super Senior programs to help guide students and their families on the path of independent learning, living and working.
Anderson said the district reviewed its career readiness and transition-based programs after receiving a Model Employment Transition Site grant in 2012. The grant’s goal is to increase the number of students with disabilities who successfully transition from school to employment. The review led to the new program.
Students who have met their graduation requirements but have an unmet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goal or transition need are eligible for the program. They can walk with their classmates at graduation, but they will not receive their diploma until they leave the program.
Read more here.
The Project SEARCH model, originally launched in Ohio, continues to grow and provide high school to employment opportunities for students with disabilities.
Jesse Potter worked diligently on a recent morning to disinfect and clean a baby bed inside the University of New Mexico Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit.
Potter, 20, who has Down syndrome, is an intern at the hospital under a new program called Project Search.
Through the job training program – a first-year collaboration between the school district, UNMH and several other partners – students with developmental disabilities work as unpaid interns at the hospital and, if they successfully complete their training, the hospital hires them as full-time employees.
“You can see the pride” in Jesse, said his mother, Julie Potter.
The internship gives her son a sense of purpose and he thinks of it as his college experience, she said.
When Jesse graduated high school in 2013, he joined APS’s transition services, a program that helps students with disabilities transition to life after high school.
It was a scary time, not unlike when Julie Potter first learned Jesse had Down syndrome, she said. She questioned whether Jesse would be able to find a job, much less one that he liked and that filled him with a sense of accomplishment. After learning about Project Search, she rushed to sign up her son.
Read the article here.
More information on Project SEARCH
Meet Rachel Anderson,Transition & Supported Employment Coordinator for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation. Rachel has been working with people with disabilities for 15 years. She began in college working with children with disabilities in an after school program, then moved on to working in residential care with adults with disabilities. After earning her degree in Social Work, Rachel became a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Transition Counselor with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, first working in the Salt Lake City School District and then moving into assisting all schools/districts in the state to make the VR connection.
I have loved, and been extremely passionate about, all of my roles working with people with disabilities. I have always been understanding, accepting and passionate about advocating for vulnerable populations, or those that need help in anyway. I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with transition aged youth in Utah, helping them gain the skills and providing opportunities for them to meet their goals, become independent and be successfully employed.
Howard County Public School System in Maryland has a work study program that provides opportunities for students with disabilities at all levels who are certificate-bound.
At 19, Craig Knill has a varied work experience. Over the past four years, he has worked for libraries, at bookstores as a custodian and as a clerical worker in the offices of the Howard County Council.
It’s all part of a work-study transition program through the Howard County Public School System and numerous community partners that helps prepare students such as Knill, a senior at Glenelg High School, for life after school.
The work-study transition program is for students with disabilities, from the mild to the profound, whether they’re bound for a diploma or a certificate of completion, said Dawson Robertson, program head for work study and lead transition coordinator for the Howard County Public School System.
“This is providing students with disabilities the opportunity to transition to adult life, about lifting barriers,” he said.