• Transition planning is an outcome oriented process that promotes the movement from school to post-school activities.
    Teams made of special educators and vocational rehabilitation specialists work with students and parents as they navigate, plan and develop transition strategies. The key to this process is to look at the day after graduation and work backward.

    • Where will the student work?
    • Live?
    • Go to college?
    • How will she achieve her goals?
    • Who will help him?

    Traditionally, transition planning begins when the child is 14 and the planning focuses on what the student will do when he or she leaves high school. Outcomes may include independent living goals, employment, post-secondary education and community involvement. However, as a child moves through early intervention, preschool special education, school age special education and eventually into adulthood, the supports that the child requires and the focus of their educational program will change.

    How do Services Change as my Child Grows?

    Early Intervention (0- 3 years)
    Early Intervention (Part C of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004) is a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. Early intervention focuses on helping eligible babies and toddlers learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as: physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking); cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems); communication (talking, listening, understanding); social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and self-help (eating, dressing).

    Preschool Special Education Services
    Services for preschool children (ages 3 through 5) are provided free of charge through the public school system. There are several ways that children may begin receiving services. Children who are receiving early intervention services may begin special education preschool services:

    1. upon their transition out of early intervention, typically at age three
    2. at the State’s discretion, two-year-olds who will turn three during the school year may receive special education preschool services
    3. other children are first identified and found eligible between the ages of two and five, and thus, may begin receiving services as preschoolers
    4. attending well-baby and child check-ups with a pediatrician. A referral to a developmental Pediatrician or other specialist may lead to more comprehensive evaluations to determine if a child has a significant delay and requires specialized help

    Pre-Kindergarten to Kindergarten
    What Parents Need to Know when transitioning from Pre-School to Elementary

    Indiana Resource Center for Autism provides a good list of ideas for parents to help facilitate the transition between preschool and Kindergarten

    Elementary School
    When entering elementary school request that the receiving school participate in the student's final IEP meeting before the student moves to the next school. This gives current team members the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation and planning with the 

    What kinds of supports does the student need now to support communication, social, academic and behavioral goals?

    Is the student participating in the SOL assessments with or without accommodations?

    Does the student use assistive technology? If so, what kind? High tech, low tech? In what ways is he/she using it?

    Is the student's curriculum functional in nature?

    Do you anticipate that the support need will dissipate or increase over time?

    Middle school
    Take a look at the student's Course of Study. 

    What is the student's area of interest?

    Is the student in an academic course of study toward a standard or advanced studies diploma?

    If there has been no discussion about a diploma, it's time to study all options.

    In what kinds of self-determination activities has he been involved?

    High School
    Has the student participated in age appropriate transition and/or career assessments?

    What type of diploma will your student earn?

    Documentation is KEY: colleges and adult service agencies need proof of the student's disability.

    Does your student understand his/her needed accommodations for assessments including SOL, SAT, and/or ACT?

    Tri-State Transition Guide (All Ages)
    This document is a planning guide that looks at Self-Determination, Post Secondary Education and Training, Employment and Independent Living. Developed by the Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania Departments of Education, the guide outlines activities and skills that will assist the student with developing as a young adult starting at age 10. 

    Department of Education Transition Document

    Richmond Rehabilitation Research and Training Center VCU-RRTC
    Established in 1983, the Virginia Commonwealth University RRTC provides resources for professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their representatives. Our team of nationally and internationally renowned researchers is committed to developing and advancing evidence-based practices to increase the hiring and retention for individuals with disabilities.

    The RRTC offers a variety of resources. Their fact sheets can provide great information related to specific topics.

    RPS Transition Guide
    Supported employment extends services to persons with most significant disabilities that previously might not have been considered as having the potential for employment and not found eligible for state Vocational Rehab services. While supported employment had its national beginnings in serving persons with an intellectual disability,services in Virginia can be appropriate for persons with other most significant disabilities who have the desire to work in competitive employment in integrated settings. Supported employment is not a disability-specific service option.

    Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy
    The mission of Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy is to provide an intensive functional life skills curriculum that is oriented toward career education and competitive employment for Richmond students, age 14 – 21 inclusive. These students have significant cognitive disabilities, lack a functional communication system, demonstrate significant deficits in social competence, and typically graduate with a Special Diploma. 

    The Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy will enhance the productive contributions and vocational capacities of youth with significant disabilities who have typically not been competitively employed nor been seen as having the ability to be competitively employed upon graduation. Students appropriate for the Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy typically will enter with poorly developed functional communication and social skills as well as severe academic challenges. 

    Outcomes for all students will be competitive employment, enrollment in meaningful post-secondary programs, or other productive activity that contributes directly to the well-being of the community.  The Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy will adhere to the principles of the Standards of Quality. Commensurate with the expectations of the Virginia Department of Education, the Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy will enable each student to develop the skills that are necessary for success in school, prepare students for life, and assist students in reaching their full potential. As such, the Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy will employ licensed instructional personnel qualified in the relevant areas who will be provided with ongoing professional development; utilize a comprehensive curriculum that embodies the Aligned Standards of Learning and provide instruction that enables pupils to graduate with a Special Diploma. 

    Work Experience Program (WEP)
    Students in 10th grade or higher, that are working toward a special or modified diploma have the option of participating in the Work Experience Program. Classes meet once a week and students work through a 3-tiered program; Education for Transition, Work Assessment and Adjustment Training, and Community-Based vocational education. Goals of the Work Experience Program are preparation for post-secondary employment and/or further employment training and development of appropriate work skills.

    Project Search
    In August 2008, Richmond Public Schools’  Project SEARCH began with a partnership of support from the VCU Health System, VDOE, the Department of Rehabilitative Services, and the VCU Research and Rehabilitation Training Center.

    VDOE provided funding to assist RPS in developing and implementing a Project SEARCH site. RPS committed an instructor who would be located at the VCU Medical Center to teach the students self-determination and employability skills, develop and implement a recruiting and application process for students with intellectual disabilities, and work with the employer to implement internships and conduct evaluations.

    The VCU Health System provided a business liaison, a classroom location for instructor and students, and assisted in recruiting departments to train interns. VCU-RRTC provided assistance in developing and implementing an infrastructure with RPS at the VCU Medical Center, provided job-coaching hours, established a nonbinding agreement among parties, assisted with costs for transportation training and provided resources when gaps existed.

    DRS assigned one counselor to work with the students and to provide resources for student participants. At the conclusion of the internship programs, DRS agreed to provide individualized supports and placement into employment.

    Once Project SEARCH began in September 2009, the typical schedule for student interns started with their arrival at the medical center by 8 a.m., either by public transportation or with family assistance.

    Classroom instruction followed until 8:45 a.m., when the students left for their internship sites. Debriefing for the day occurred when students returned to the classroom at 2 p.m. Internship sites included patient transportation, ophthalmology, food and nutrition services, central supply, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, critical care, nuclear medicine, and pediatric research, rehabilitation and physical therapy.

    Job coaches assisted the students at the beginning of internships, fading out as the students’ skills improved with the assistance of an employee mentor. Students are enrolled in Project SEARCH after participating in a recruiting and application process. 

    As of June 2011, twelve students had successfully completed the program.

    Of these students 83% have gained competitive employment because of their dedication to Project SEARCH and their willingness to acquire new skills. 

    Typically, eight students who are high school seniors, begin the program with the start of the school year. The students spend the entire school year at the host hospital.

    Each student completes three 10-week internships with the ultimate goal of obtaining competitive employment, while learning new skills. The students are supported by the onsite public school teacher, provided by Richmond Public Schools, in job readiness skills and independent living skills.