The transition to adult services and programs is recognized as a difficult one for individuals with disabilities. Equally important is the stress and apprehension it causes parents.
“What is Transition?” is an information sheet that provides a brief overview of transition from school services to adult services.
“Adult Services” provides an overview of the services available to adults with disabilities.
What is in store for youth with disabilities after they leave school? What will happen to your young adult when they no longer receive the educational services or accommodations which have been mandated by federal law? These questions are important to all parents of youth with special needs and even though disabilities may vary greatly in their severity or impact, many aspects of the transition planning process are the same for everyone and the need to plan for the future is very important.
It is vitally important for families to realize that transition represents the process of moving from school services provided to all eligible students under their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to services in adult programs that might or might not be available based on varying eligibility criteria and funding sources. Families who begin planning early will have more time to identify concerns, overcome challenges or barriers that arise and create opportunities which will help their students achieve their goals. Planning for the future early will alleviate disappointment and anxiety as students approach adulthood.
Developing the Transition Plan is key to a successful transition for your child with a disability and this fact sheet will help you understand the planning process.
The Utah Parent Center has created a handbook for parents and a series of information sheets for parents of individuals with disabilities in Utah that will help them and their students plan for the transition to adult life and services.
The Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD or Division)
The mission of the DSPD is to promote opportunities and provide supports for persons with disabilities so that they will have every opportunity to participate fully in Utah life. DSPD serves people with severe or chronic disabilities caused by intellectual or physical impairments, or a combination of impairments, which are likely to continue, resulting in substantial limitations in three or more major life activities. DSPD oversees home and community-based services for more than 4,000 people who have disabilities. Support includes community living, day services, supported employment services, and support for people with disabilities and their families. The Division also provides services to about 250 people at the Utah State Developmental Center (USDC), a state operated Intermediate Care Facility for people with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ID). For more information visit http://www.dspd.utah.gov/.
Post-secondary education is not simply an extension of high school. Students who decide to continue their education beyond high school will need to choose among vocational programs, two-year colleges, or four-year universities or colleges, in addition to deciding on an educational path. Keep in mind that many programs can be tailored to your child’s needs and interests. Mapping Your Dreams: Education is an information sheet that will guide you as you consider post-secondary educational options for your young adult.
Adult education programs are designed to provide instruction below the college level to any person 16 years of age or older who is no longer being served by the public education system. There are many different programs available in a variety of settings. In many states, local applied technology centers operate as part of the public school system. Secondary students may receive instruction there during the day while instruction for adults in the community is available at night.
Individuals with disabilities will want to find out about disability-related support services and classroom accommodations available at colleges and universities they are interested in attending. According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, an institution of higher education receiving federal funds may not exclude an individual from participation in or deny them the benefits of any program or activity offered solely because that individual has a disability. Nearly all post-secondary institutions receive federal financial assistance. Most colleges and universities have Disability Resource Centers to assist students with disabilities.
Vocational and Technical Schools
Vocational and technical schools are designed to prepare students for gainful employment in recognized occupations such as technician, bank teller, dental assistant, data processor, electrician, etc. Vocational training is provided so that an individual can obtain skills in a specific area of interest or increase the level of skills they have already achieved. A course of study may take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years to complete, with the general entrance requirement of a high school diploma, or satisfactory equivalent. These schools place great importance on placement of their graduates.
Identifying possible careers which suit the individual’s interests and abilities is very important to building their future. To help do this, find out what School-To-Careers activities exist and participate. No one can be excluded because of disabilities.
We have a tool called “Mapping Your Dreams: Employment” that acts as a map to planning your child’s future. Tips for transition, exploring your future, setting your destination and mapping a course and resources are all included in this tool.
Utah State Office of Rehabilitation
The mission of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) is to assist eligible individuals [with disabilities] in obtaining employment and increasing their independence. To learn more about the important services offered by the USOR, visit http://www.usor.utah.gov/.
Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities
This Committee promotes public and private efforts to achieve equal employment opportunities for all qualified Utahans with disabilities. They believe that increased employment for individuals with disabilities can be successful.
Work Ability Utah
The overall goal of the Work Ability Utah project, Utah’s Medicaid Infrastructure grant, is to create a comprehensive, consumer-responsive system of work supports that will increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities in Utah. Work Ability Utah is responsible to conduct research in all areas of health care and employment for people with disabilities; to ensure collaboration among all partners and stakeholders and to facilitate the streamlining of services for individuals with disabilities. The project assists in implementation of the Utah’s Medicaid Buy-In, the Utah Medicaid Work Incentive, for working people with disabilities, the expansion of Employment Personal Assistance Services through the Medicaid State Plan, and training of service workers and outreach to individuals with disabilities to explain the work incentive changes.
Work Ability’s website contains a wealth of information about adult services and transition. Check it out at http://workabilityutah.org/work/index.php.
Independent Living is a rapidly growing consumer movement. Its rapid growth is a function of the great need that exists for services to persons who have a significant disability. A definition of independent living encompasses a person with a disability having the right to choose and have personal control over one’s life, including the services they receive.
Utah’s six Independent Living Centers provide information, services and resources for people interested in learning more about living independently. Links to all six centers can be found on the Utah Statewide Independent Living Council’s (USILC) website. USILC is a private, nonprofit organization. The USILC mission is to promote full inclusion, independence and empowerment of people with disabilities through advocacy/systems change, planning/organization, education, networking, resource development and independent living service enhancement.
It may be difficult to imagine your child living on his or her own – after all, he or she has been under your roof for so long! However, the skills you teach now will help your child to be confident and capable of living as independently as possible. Remember that preparing for home living means more than simply finding a place to live. Home living takes into account: transportation, self-advocacy, financial management, and medical and support services as needed. Your family member can develop independent skills in one, some, or all of these areas. Mapping Your Dreams: Home Living is a tool that will help you explore the options available to you for living accommodations and consider individual needs for your situation.
As you consider your youth’s journey to becoming an adult member of the community, it is really important to think about ways that your family member can be actively involved in local activities.
There are many important reasons for supporting your youth’s involvement in the community. It can be a source of strength and satisfaction for everyone. Community participation is important for individuals with disabilities because it helps to build a sense of confidence and inclusion, and it is a great way to make friends. If you can help your youth with disabilities to become actively involved in the community, as an adult he or she will be able to develop and maintain a strong support network and make friends while getting satisfaction out of knowing that he or she is helping to make the community better. Mapping Your Dreams: Community is an information sheet that provides suggestions as you plan for community participation for your family member.
Guardianship is a legally authorized relationship between a competent adult (the guardian) and an individual with a disability. In Utah, all special education rights transfer to the student at age 18 unless guardianship has been previously awarded. At age 18 the student reaches the age of majority and is considered an adult. Parents are no longer required to be informed or give their consent for programs or services. The law requires schools to notify students about the rights that transfer to them when they reach the age of majority by at least one year before their eighteenth birthday. As an adult, your student could decide to exclude you from participating in meetings and making decisions about adult services.
- Guardianship for adults in Utah – Self-Advocacy Fact Sheet
- Guardianship Associates of Utah - Learn about Guardianship
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Your family member must have a disability or be blind to be eligible for SSI. Children may be eligible for benefits depending upon the family’s income and assets, but when your youth turns 18, the family income is no longer considered. However, the benefit will be denied if the individual has more than $2,000 in accountable resources. This includes liquid assets like savings, stocks, bonds, etc., and real property beyond one vehicle your youth uses and the home in which she resides. If deemed eligible for SSI, your family member is automatically eligible for Medicaid.
Written applications for SSI are submitted at the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If you live in a metropolitan area, make an appointment to submit the application by calling their toll-free number. This can reduce or eliminate a lengthy wait. Begin this process six to eight weeks prior to your youth’s 18th birthday. They will also send the application so you can complete it before your appointment. Bring the following to the application interview:
- Social Security card number,
- An original document to prove her age,
- Evidence of citizenship or immigration status,
- Records of earned and/or unearned income,
- Auto registration,
- Medical reports,
- IEPs for the last two years, and
- Any testing results which verify the disability.
You may also want to have written statements from others who will verify your youth’s inability to do things that others who are the same age can do for themselves. Benefits are paid back to the month of application so if you are missing some documentation, submit the application anyway. Provide SSA with the names and addresses of doctors, hospitals, or clinics where she has received treatment. For information or assistance call your local SSA offices or their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or go to the federal government website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm.
Whenever possible, SSI should be used as a stepping stone to economic self-sufficiency. SSA has developed programs that encourage people with disabilities to achieve a more independent and satisfying lifestyle when they take advantage of employment opportunities. Information is available from “The Red Book – A Guide to Work Incentives” (SSA Pub. No. 64-030). Benefit planning assistance is also available through Work Ability by calling (801) 887-9529 or visiting www.workabilityutah.org.
Transition to Adult Health Care
Another part of your son or daughter’s independence is assuming some responsibility for health care. Decisions must be made about your family member’s ability to realize when health care is needed and whether or not he can communicate adequately with health professionals. It is also recommended that you address the issues of sexuality and reproduction. Helpful information on these topics is available at www.medicalhomeportal.org.
Financial resources to pay for health care must be identified. Medicaid may be available even if your son or daughter does not receive SSI. More information can be requested by calling your local Family Support/Workforce Services Office, an agency of Utah government. Medicaid covers basic dental care after age 21, but prior approval is required for some services. Whenever using Medicaid and when using some insurance plans, parents should learn about their pre-request plan.
For youth with medical needs it is important to give careful consideration to how medical care and services will change as they become adults. For more information, you may wish to contact the Utah Family Voices, Family to Family Health Information Center at the Utah Parent Center by calling: (801) 272-1068 or (800) 468-1160. Information on medical transition issues is also available on the Utah Medical Home website at http://www.medicalhomeportal.org/living-with-child/transition-issues and www.medhomeportal.org.