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California Department of Education, Special Education Division’s special project, California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) is funded through a contract with the Napa County Office of Education. CalSTAT is partially funded from federal funds, State Grants #H027A080116A. Additional federal funds are provided from a federal competitively awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A070011) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U. S. Department of Education.
Autumn 2008 Volume 22, Number 1
Children with disabilities and their parents face many important transitional junctures in their lives. The first formal transition is the one that parents navigate when their child turns three years old and the teachers, therapists, and supporting organizations all change. And then there are the numerous transitions between schools — from preschool to elementary, from elementary school to junior high and then high school, and from high school into adult living.
In the parlance of social scientists and psychologists, any period of transition is “liminal,” that is, a time when old boundaries are dissolving and new ones have yet to be formed. To be in transition is, by definition, to be somewhere in between; and the unknown, with all of its frightening and transforming possibilities, represents the only constant. In addition, a sense of loss often accompanies the process, making it all the more challenging.
No one would disagree with the notion that a student’s transition from high school into postsecondary education, the workforce, and adult living represents one of the most critical of these junctures. It is no wonder that adults attend to it so closely and that so many systems have been created to support students with disabilities during this period. This issue of The Special EDge focuses on this last major point of transition that California’s educational system is able to support and affect.
At the federal level, the most recent authorization of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA ’04) refined its definition of “transition
services” to be “a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability
. . . is designed to be a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; [and] . . . is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests [IDEA, Section 602 (34)].” The specific language that was added in the law’s reauthorization —“to be a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability” and “based on the individual child’s needs”— demonstrates an effort on the part of the federal government to refine and clarify the task. While it would be impossible to completely remove the ambiguity and sense of “in-between-ness” that is inherent in any period of transition, the government is emphasizing the importance of developing, with the student, a clear vision for the future; as well, it is stressing the responsibility that adults — teachers and parents — have to support the student in creating and realizing that vision.
The California Department of Education (CDE) has pursued several partnerships in support of successful transitions for students with disabilities in the state. On the national level, CDE has joined the SharedWork effort that was initiated by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). Along with 11 other states and the District of Columbia, California uses the SharedWork Web site to create a community of practice that exchanges information at both the national and state levels. Participants post calendars, forums, publications, training modules, checklists, and various other tools, along with state performance plans, interagency agreements, action guides, national longitudinal studies, and advocacy guides. The site is a vehicle for intra- as well as interstate information sharing so that no one has to “reinvent the wheel” in terms of systems or programs that effectively support transition. (The site also addresses other topics for improving special education systems, such as teacher quality and collaboration.) Anyone can join SharedWork at www.sharedwork.org.
The CDE has also developed the California Community of Practice for Secondary Transition and is working to create and maintain partnerships among various agencies so that, together, they can ensure a seamless delivery of transition services to youths with disabilities and their families. The partners in this effort include the following agencies:
The number and variety of interests and organizations involved in this effort appear, at first glance, overwhelming. But there is no single profile of a student with a disability; each is unique in his or her physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities, which in turn influence the kinds of services and supports he or she needs. Clearly, these wide-ranging differences require that the programs that serve students be as diverse as the students themselves.
Throughout the state, numerous coordinated efforts are meeting this need for diverse transition services. One such effort is the Transition Partnership Project (TPP), which is designed to build partnerships between local education agencies (LEAs) and the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) for the purpose of successfully transitioning students into meaningful employment or postsecondary education. Currently, 85 TPP programs are administered statewide through cooperative agreements with local school districts, SELPAs, and county offices of education.
Training and technical assistance are also available to LEAs. Funded by an
interagency agreement between the DOR and the CDE, these supports emphasize
rehabilitation services. Training is customized to meet the unique needs of individual programs and include such topics as “Building Consumer Capacity for Employment,” “Job Development, Placement, and Retention,” “Employment Success and Illness Management: The Impact of Substance Abuse, Medications, and Psychiatric Disability,” and “Benefits Planning.” Another example of a CDE-sponsored transition effort is WorkAbility I, which helps schools throughout the state integrate their curricula with work-readiness skills, career technical assessment, and activities that connect students directly to the world of work.
The award-winning Bridges to Self Sufficiency project (www.allenshea.com/bridges.html) in the Whittier Unified School District is an example of a district-based, integrated transition program. Coordinated by Dr. Richard Rosenberg and sponsored by the Social Security Administration, the DOR, and seven California school districts, this program informs families and young people with disabilities about work and work incentives, motivates them, assists them with their transition to work, and helps them become as economically independent and self-sufficient as possible.
While Whittier’s Bridges project works with all students who have an IEP, the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento offers a program specifically designed for students with developmental disabilities: Transition to Adult Living (www.calstat.org/leadershipSites/washingtonUSD/about.html). Operating out of a small house in West Sacramento, this program helps students develop skills in independent living, employment, and transportation; and it works to create for them a seamless connection to adult services after they have left high school. According to Program Director Diana Blackmon, “We also teach our students how to be good neighbors.” (See profiles of two additional, successful transition programs, TRACE and Centinela, on pages 9 and 10.)
There are grassroots efforts in development, as well. A growing campaign in Fresno seeks to connect employers with students who leave high school without diplomas and to provide these students with a “skills inventory” that accompanies their Certificate of Attendance. Another effort involves a SELPA that is working with a network of business operators who either were in special education themselves or have relatives with disabilities. For students leaving high school without a diploma, the members of this network are providing “apprenticeship type” employment, thus giving the students on-the-job experience that helps them build their resumés.
Learning, developing vocational skills, working, becoming independent, participating in the community, being a good neighbor — these are the goals of every effective transition program. California is one state where these efforts are numerous — and their numbers are growing.
The Special Education Division, California Department of Education (CDE),
maintains a very specific
goal: that all students with disabilities successfully prepare for the workplace and for independent living.
In addition, CDE values collaborative partnerships that support students in realizing this goal and that produce the resources that are essential in meeting the challenges that educators, parents and guardians, and especially students with disabilities all face during a student’s transition from school to adult life.
According to the National Organization on Disability/Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities in 2004, only 35 percent of people with disabilities reported being employed full or part time, compared to 78 percent of those who do not have disabilities; three times as many [people with disabilities] live in poverty, with annual household incomes below $15,000 (26 percent versus 9 percent); and people with disabilities are less likely to socialize, eat out, or attend religious services than their non-disabled counterparts. (Source: The National Organization on Disability Web site at www.nod.org)
These findings, along with the above-expressed goal and value of the CDE,
create a strong mandate for action. Clearly, all of us who have a stake in
ensuring the success and well-being of students with disabilities need to work
together. So, in collaboration with the California Community of Practice (CoP)
for Secondary Transition, CDE is sponsoring the second California Secondary
Transition Conference on March 2 and 3, 2009, in Anaheim, California. The conference
is designed to strengthen and expand the knowledge, working relationships,
and network of secondary transition professionals working in the field of special
education. This year’s conference will focus particularly on the role of youths
and families in the transition process.
The CoP for Secondary Transition is well situated to serve as the host for this event. It is composed of individuals representing multiple agencies who meet regularly to share ideas, solve problems, and improve practices related to secondary transition (for more information, please see the article “Communities of Practice for Transition” on the cover of this issue of The Special Edge). This group and its conference are designed to bring professionals together for the following purposes:
I hope this conference will attract all stakeholders who are invested in
the successful transition of youths with disabilities, including teachers,
parents, support personnel, students, administrators, rehabilitation practitioners,
community stakeholders, employers, workforce development personnel, social
workers, and representatives from adult service agencies.
For information about registering for this conference, visit the following Web site: www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/ac/cop2009.asp.
Please consider joining us!
As almost every student, teacher, and parent in the state knows, all high school seniors must pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) if they are to receive a diploma. And even more people know the importance of a diploma for young people who are transitioning into adult life. In addition to being required for entry into many technical schools, colleges, and universities, a high school diploma is often necessary to even qualify for the kinds of jobs that promise a living wage or any possibility of advancement.
While there are many other requirements for graduation in addition to the CAHSEE, the exam itself has proven to be a stumbling block for many hard-working students with disabilities. As a result, while the state is maintaining its commitment to high standards for all students, it is also working to provide additional support for students who deserve a diploma.
Assembly Bill 347, signed into law in October 2007, is designed to assist these students by requiring school districts that receive “Intensive Instruction” funds to “ensure that all pupils who have not passed one or both parts of the CAHSEE by the end of grade twelve have the opportunity to receive intensive instruction and services as needed based on the results of . . . diagnostic assessment and prior results on the high school exit examination, for up to two consecutive academic years after the completion of grade twelve or until the pupil has passed both parts of the CAHSEE, whichever comes first. School districts must employ strategies for intensive instruction and services that are most likely to result in those pupils passing the parts of the CAHSEE that they have not passed (Education Code, Section 37254 (d)(4)).” In addition, this new legislation requires that districts use a variety of methods to notify and counsel pupils of this opportunity for intensive services and instruction after twelfth grade: by written notices sent to students’ homes, by postings in classrooms, and through counseling programs.
Also in support of students who have difficulty passing the exam, the California
Department of Education (CDE) is recommending that school districts review
the individualized education programs (IEPs) of high school seniors who have
not yet met the CAHSEE requirement to ensure that all appropriate (or necessary)
accommodations and modifications, supports, and services are in place to assist
these students. The CDE suggests that the students themselves be included in
discussions of test variations, so that they can express what would be helpful
to them in passing the exam. The CDE also suggests that IEPs be amended to
reflect any changes to the accommodations, supports, and services that may
be needed; and that schools provide students with simple accommodations for
the test, such as testing the student alone in a separate room, providing the
student with frequent breaks, and testing over more than one day. The CDE hopes
that these strategies may help to reduce the anxiety that a great many students
experience when taking such a high-stakes test, and thus allow the student
to fully demonstrate his or her knowledge and ability.
Alternatively, the CDE encourages schools to provide students with modifications to the exam itself for those students who qualify. For example, a student who is unable to pass the written portion of the exam may benefit from the use of a scribe or a word processor with “spell check” and “grammar check” functions activated.
Invariably, however, there will be students who do not pass the CAHSEE, regardless of how hard they try and how diligently adults work to support their efforts. What are their options?
If a diploma is the goal, then there are additional avenues students can pursue. They can obtain a diploma from a community college that awards high school diplomas through non-credit adult education programs, which do not require passage of the CAHSEE for admission. If students are 16 years or older, they can also take the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) to obtain a diploma equivalent (go to www.chspe.net/). And they can work to pass the General Educational Development (GED) test, a national program for adults eighteen years old and older, to obtain a diploma equivalent (go to www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/gd/gedfaq.asp).
But what about those students who simply are not able to earn a diploma, despite
their best efforts? Transition experts insist that no student needs to be blindsided
by this possibility if the
student’s IEP is used effectively. Diploma or no diploma, the IEP remains the key to a successful transition into adult life for students with disabilities. Diagnostic assessments are a critical part of this effort, and they should be used to determine a student’s strengths and abilities. Once assessment results are known, the IEP team — including the student and parents — can use them as a basis for creating a realistic plan for the future. For some students, this could involve scheduling more intensive academic instruction so they can pass the CAHSEE and go on to postsecondary education. For others, it might suggest career technical training that concentrates on a wide range of job readiness skills. For still others, it will require a focus on independent living skills. And for many, it will be some combination of the three.
Mary Hudler, Director of the Special Education Division of the CDE, confirms this approach in a letter to school administrators as she writes, “It is important that transition for these students be well planned so that the student can become independent and self-sufficient” (go to www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/lr/om012808.asp for the full text).
Many special education experts across the country maintain that transition
needs to be part of the conversation at the very first IEP meeting for any
child who has been identified as having a disability, regardless of age. Some
even go so far as to advocate writing a student’s transition plan first, and
then writing the IEP. In general, conventional wisdom has come to insist that
“the sooner, the better” for including transition into the conversation for
all students, thus placing them on track for envisioning a future that realizes
their fullest potential. Ultimately, the IEP remains the ideal — and the most
critically helpful — vehicle for imagining, and then creating, a successful
and fulfilling adult life for students with disabilities.
Consider the following:
In the face of these facts, the current news is promising for young adults with developmental disabilities: Colleges and universities across the country are welcoming them more than ever before. And the recent passage in August of the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 now allows, for the first time, students with intellectual disabilities to receive Pell and work-study funds to support their enrollment in higher education programs; the act also provides grants for colleges to expand programs for these students.
“These are landmark provisions,” according to Dr. Olivia Raynor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who talks about “a paradigm shift in terms of expectations for students with developmental disabilities.” Raynor works at UCLA’s Tarjan Center, which houses grants for the study and support of this growing movement. One of these grants, awarded by the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, is “Open the Doors to College,” a project that focuses on identifying services and supportive structures and programs for students with developmental disabilities in California’s three public systems of higher education: the community college system, the state university system, and the University of California system.
Open the Doors to College had its beginnings in the California Consortium for Post Secondary Options for People with Developmental Disabilities. This organization has been meeting since 2005 at UCLA to help create just what the group’s title suggests: a California where anyone with a developmental disability can access postsecondary education. Out of this effort evolved Open the Doors to College, which is particularly interested, according to Raynor, in “exploring how the community college experience supports students with disabilities to transition to adulthood, that is, to greater independence and employment.” Open the Doors to College is currently focused on five tasks:
Through her work, Raynor says that it “became clear that in California the
community colleges were the place with the most potential for serving these
students. Their open-door policy and their obligation to serve all students
make it possible for students without a high school diploma to attend.”
At the same time, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCO) recognizes the need for strong systems of accountability, policy development, and programs if the community colleges are going to meet the needs of students with disabilities. In support of this effort, the CCCO recently awarded the Tarjan Center a Program Accountability and Development Services grant. Begun under the auspices of the State Council, this grant will further the work of Disabled Student Programs and Services Offices at community colleges to provide services, individualized supports, specialized classes, and programs for students with intellectual disabilities and autism.
Two new federal grants, just awarded to the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, add impetus to this movement at the national level. One of these is a research grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and establishes a National Center for Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities. The second grant, from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, creates a National Consortium for Postsecondary Education and Students with Intellectual Disabilities and focuses on training and technical assistance. Not surprisingly, the Tarjan Center is one of the programs at seven universities selected to be part of this consortium, which will conduct research to identify promising practices, develop and test a national training program, and conduct large-scale implementation and dissemination.
As Raynor sees it, “These events have brought the topic of people with developmental disabilities going to college into national prominence. It is a new day for these youths.
“There is an existing population of over 10,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities attending community colleges in the state, in addition to individuals with other disabilities.” The Tarjan Center’s findings are making it clear, says Raynor, that “there are a variety of transition and postsecondary programs in California serving a wide range of students with developmental disabilities at community colleges. These programs have not been systematically evaluated. So there are no data that point to certain results or best practices. We hope to change that.”
For more information about college for students with intellectual disabilities,
contact Wilbert Francis at Open the Doors to College; phone 310-206-2626: e-email
The Special EDge editors mistakenly attributed educational strategies that were referenced in Linda Darling-Hammond’s article, “Inclusive Classrooms: One Road to Accessibility,” in the Summer 2008 issue of The Special EDge. Cathy Deschenes, David Ebeling, and Jeffrey Sprague are the authors of Adapting Curriculum and Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms: A Teacher’s Desk Reference (1994), which is the primary source for these strategies.
By Diana Blackmon, EdD, Director of Special Services, Washington Unified School District, West Sacramento
The reauthorized version of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 was written, in part, to improve postschool outcomes data for students with disabilities. However, after the reauthorization was enacted, these students continued to lag behind their nondisabled peers in all areas (An Overview of Findings from Wave 2 of the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. 2006. http://ies.ed.gov/ncser/pubs/20063004/index.asp). As a result, the more recently reauthorized IDEA of 2004 included even more specific language to address what schools must do to prepare students with disabilities for adult life. Specifically, schools must now help students identify postschool goals and prepare to realize those goals.
What exactly are postschool goals? Simply put, postschool (or postsecondary)
goals specify the job or career that students will ultimately have when
they leave school and the education or training they will need to attain that job or career. Some students will also need postsecondary goals for independent living. This involves such issues as where the students will live, how they will participate in the life of their communities, and what supports they will need in order to live as independently as possible.
How well students are prepared to meet the challenges they face after high school is the truest measure of the success of the K–12 education system. And it is not a success easily achieved. Many, if not most, teens do not know “what they want to be when they grow up.” Many still have childhood fantasies of becoming celebrities, many have aspirations that do not match their abilities or skills, and many are simply not ready to think beyond the next school dance or football game. Adequately helping young people make decisions and plans for the future requires a coordinated effort between school and home.
Families can have a tremendous influence on their children’s ability to think about, plan, and prepare for the future. Ideally, parents and guardians begin having discussions about career goals when their child is in elementary school — sharing their work experience, taking their children to their jobs, and making connections between their child’s strengths and potential careers. When adults make career-related comments — such as “You are really good at math; you could be a scientist or mathematician,” or “You are such a helpful person; you could be a teacher or social worker”— they help children make a habit out of thinking about their futures.
For students with significant disabilities, families are a school’s most important source of information about the young person’s interests and abilities. Knowing what these are allows IEP and transition teams working with a student to determine the focus of his or her schooling and develop work preparation activities that match a students’ preferences (Transition to Adult Living, Section 4: “Family Involvement,” page 59 – 68. This book, developed by the California Department of Education’s Special Education Division, is a comprehensive guide to the transition process and a free download at www.calstat.org/transitionGuide.htm). Once young people are able to see the connection between school and adult life and the importance of thinking about the future, families and schools can begin the more detailed work of helping them make decisions about their postschool goals.
Most students with disabilities will take a course of study that leads to
a general high school diploma, which entails taking a certain (district-determined)
number of units and courses, including algebra, as well as earning a passing
grade on the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). However, some
students will not be able to meet these requirements and will instead earn
a Certificate of Completion or Achievement by attending school and meeting
their IEP goals.
How do IEP teams determine which of these paths to recommend to a student? The statewide assessments that a student takes throughout elementary and middle school can serve as very effective guides. If, for example, students took the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) or consistently performed “far below basic” on the California Standards Test (CST) from kindergarten through the eighth grade, their chances of passing the CAHSEE are very slight. These students may be better served through a course of study that leads to a Certificate of Completion or Achievement and that focuses on basic or functional skills and employability skills (Transition to Adult Living, Section 7: “Preparing Students for a Certificate of Achievement/Completion,” pages 85 – 91).
Conversely, if a student has performed at least “below basic” (and in certain cases, even “far below basic”) on the California Standards Test, then, with intensive intervention in high school, he or she should be able to pass the CAHSEE and earn a general diploma (See Transition to Adult Living, Section 6: “Preparing Students for a General Diploma,” pages 79 – 82). The decision about determining a course of study in high school is critical — and required by the IDEA because it sets the stage for selecting transition activities and postschool goals.
The next set of decisions that lead to developing postschool goals centers very specifically on the student and begins with a series of important questions: What are the student’s academic and functional skills? What is the student’s personality type? What are the student’s interests, abilities, and skills? What accommodations does the student need in school and ultimately in work? Does the student have a career interest? Is there a match between the student’s career goals and his or her strengths, interests, and preferences? What are the student’s work skills (the level of supervision needed and the ability to ask for help and complete tasks, for example)? Does the student know how to select a realistic and healthy lifestyle or living arrangement, manage money, and find health care? Does the student have transportation or mobility needs, such as getting a driver’s license or travel training? Does the student know how to get involved in the community, and does he or she have access to community resources? Does the student know how to make connections with adult service providers? (See also the article in this issue on page 13.)
To answer these questions, schools will need to offer both formal and informal
assessments that help the student and the IEP team gain insight into the young
person’s unique makeup. In addition to standardized and curriculum-based assessments,
schools can use interviews with students and their families, questionnaires,
interest inventories, and situational and career assessments.
One of the most common mistakes made in career planning for individuals both with and without disabilities is that of not taking enough time to explore answers to these questions — a mistake that can lead to a mismatch between the individual and the educational path and career he or she chooses. By engaging in self-awareness activities, which include actively exploring jobs and careers, as well as taking assessments, a student and the supporting team can begin to develop a clear picture of the student’s unique interests, strengths, needs, and abilities. This information helps students discover who they are so they can make informed decisions about their futures. Clearly, the information also helps the transition team develop, alongside the student, the best postschool goals possible (Transition to Adult Living, Appendix E: “Transition-Related Assessments,” pages 129 –139). Finally, because young people are continually developing and changing, with their interests changing right along with them, it is critical that the assessment process be ongoing throughout high school.
There is a logical sequence to transition planning and preparation that helps students develop meaningful postschool goals. This sequence first involves gaining self-awareness through the assessment process described above. Based on the information obtained from these assessments, the next step involves a focus on career awareness, which includes learning about the careers that match the student’s unique profile; then preparing for the career of choice through instruction and work-related activities. Finally, the student should be given work experience (Transition to Adult Living, Section 3: “Scope and Sequence for Transition Instruction,” pages 56 – 57). Offering a course of study that is relevant to the student and that follows the sequence of transition instruction, activities, and services described here will enable students to develop postschool goals that are individualized, meaningful, and possible.
The IDEA requires that postsecondary goals be measurable. The National Secondary
Transition Technical Assistance Center (www.nsttac.org) defines a measurable
postsecondary goal as something that occurs after the student leaves school
and that can happen or not happen. For example, a student may choose the following
postschool goal: “I will enroll in a certificate program in industrial maintenance
technology at a community college.” The student will either enroll or not enroll.
Either way, the goal is measurable.
Since the postsecondary goals specify what the student wants to accomplish when he or she leaves high school, some parents and educators may wonder about the annual goals and services that occur while the student is still in high school. Annual goals in the IEP are an integral part of transition services and consist of activities and supports that occur while the student is in high school — and that support postschool goals.
For example, a student who does not know what career interests him or her
could have an annual goal of exploring careers that match his or her interests
and abilities and of taking advantage of such services as career counseling
and work experience. Students who know what career interests them but do not
know how to become qualified could have an annual goal of researching the requirements
for that career and the schools that provide the necessary preparation. These
students could also take part in field trips to local colleges, research entrance
requirements, and seek assistance with college entrance and financial aid applications.
A student with significant needs may have an annual goal of completing community-based instruction that provides travel training and work experience, along with a goal of securing services that connect the student with adult
supports, such as independent living providers and supported employment. (For detailed examples of annual transition goals, see Transition to Adult
Living, Appendix F, pages 140–146).
A final reminder about the plans that 15-, 16-, 17- and even 18-year-olds make for their future:
Even with the most careful assessment and exploration process, the career
choice that interested a 16-year-old may no longer interest him or her at age 18. Not only is a change of mind normal and to be expected, but it is actually a critical part of the life-planning process.
However, if adults engage young adults in thinking about their futures and exploring options while they are still in high school, the students will make increasingly better choices as they mature and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the careers that truly fit them. Developing meaningful postschool goals is a dynamic process, similar to growing up. And when it is viewed in this way, everyone involved — the student, family, teachers, service providers, and members of the IEP team — will be able to develop and revise postsecondary goals that will become a successful blueprint for guiding the student’s present — and future.
“Courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.”
TRACE — Transition Resources for Adult Community Education —is a program of
the San Diego Unified School District that works with young people with disabilities,
usually 18 – 22 years of age, to help them make the transition from high school
to adult living. The individuals who work at TRACE describe their operation
as a person-centered planning process. What this ultimately means is that TRACE
is driven by listening. “What’s so hard about that?” you might ask. Many things,
according to Colleen Harmon, program resource teacher at TRACE. In Harmon’s
experience, most of the students who come to TRACE are simply not used to being
asked open-ended questions. “They don’t really know what they want,” she says,
“And it takes some time, effort, and intervening experiences before they can
begin to know, and especially before they can begin to know how they want their
futures to unfold. It is our goal to give them experiences and opportunities
so they can learn and make decisions that suit them.
“Many of these students do not even know what the possibilities are. So the listening that we do requires a significant investment of time and the ability to pay attention in a variety of ways. TRACE gives them opportunities to try out different kinds of work and living arrangements so that they can develop their own opinions and make informed decisions about how they want to live their lives.” TRACE’s Program Manager Bob Morris puts it most succinctly: “Life is the indicator. We simply follow the kids where they want to go. . . . We didn’t write the program,” he goes on to explain. “They [the students] tell us what to do. Since we’re person-centered, we follow what they need.”
One particularly effective feature of TRACE is the supported employment it offers its students. During a student’s last year in the program, TRACE pays an agency or employer to “try out” the student; this means that the student works while still receiving direction and counseling from TRACE. In this way, problems can be addressed before the student “ages out” of TRACE (by law, students 18 –22 years of age who have not received a high school diploma are entitled to the kinds of educational services that TRACE provides), and everyone can be reasonably assured that by the time the student is 22, he or she has a job that is a good fit. This feature of “trying things out” provides a near-perfect safety net for both employee and employer — and a seamless transition for the student.
During this try-out period, the person-centered planning extends beyond the individual student. The educators at TRACE also work with the adults in a student’s life — co-workers, supervisors, and bosses. The teachers and aides help students learn how to use these kinds of individuals as supports and how to advocate for themselves on the job and in their communities.
TRACE currently works with young adults who have ANY kind of disabilities — developmental, physical, emotional, or learning. While the program has been in existence in one form or another for over 20 years, it did not always serve students with emotional or learning disabilities. A number of factors contributed to the program’s decision to expand its scope of service. The most powerful impetus has been the requirement in California that all students must pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in order to receive a high school diploma. This requirement, according to Harmon, created a need among those students who were not able to pass. While IDEA mandates that all students with an IEP receive transition services through the age of 22, Harmon too often saw this not happening, particularly for students with emotional and learning disabilities. Once many of them turn 18, she says, “They disappear from the system.” And, in her estimation, they disappear for reasonable cause. High school was not a positive experience for these students. They failed to pass the CAHSEE. They failed to earn a diploma. They failed to graduate. It is understandable that the last thing they want to do is hang around a place where their primary experience was one of failure, even though they have the option of continuing to take classes until they pass the CAHSEE. “As a result,” noted Harmon, “they miss out on services.”
One of TRACE’s newest staff members, Jill Prier, was hired to help students do just that: pass the CAHSEE. Hired just last year, she is suddenly finding herself filling a very large niche. She typically works with from 50 to 100 students, all of whom want to earn their high school diplomas.
Prier already has favorite success stories. One is of Karla, a young woman with a learning disability who became pregnant at 15. While Karla had struggled in her classes, she considered herself a normal teenager and was devastated when she learned that she had to transfer to a continuing education program. This, by Karla’s own account, was the lowest point in her young life. She has written about the sadness she experienced during this period, being home all day alone with her baby after her parents went to work, washing diapers, and holding out little hope for her future. Until she signed up with TRACE. Once there, Karla — with Prier’s help — set out to fill the holes in her transcript. And Prier was determined to tap into the determination that she saw as fundamental to Karla’s character. In the process, Karla also discovered that she enjoyed care giving, and from there she has “taken off.” According to Prier, Karla has become a source of active support to other young women who enter TRACE. And with Prier’s help, Karla is on track to complete high school, and from there she plans to attend a community college to become a nursing assistant. Karla is just one of dozens of students who go through TRACE and come out with a high school diploma — and a clear vision of the future.
In the face of TRACE’s growth and change, Morris cautions that “We’re trying not to become a ‘system’; we’re trying to maintain this person-centered approach. The challenges [of working with students with emotional and learning disabilities] have made us a different organization, especially in relation to staff development. We found that we needed to learn how to motivate kids who were not easily motivated. So we needed to add that focus. We brought in people who were experts in motivational interviewing. Because we don’t have students in class every day, we had to figure out how to make the most of the time we did have with them. Every one of our staff members, even those working solely with kids with developmental disabilities, has become more effective as a result” (for more information about the motivational interviewing used at TRACE, go to www.motivationalinterview.org).
TRACE began in 1995 with 75 students and 6 teachers. Today, it has 765 students and 61 teachers. How does this kind of growth happen? The student-centered approach is one part of it. The second is the program’s range of focus. TRACE works on six specific areas that inform the goals and plans for students:
Financial creativity is the third reason for the program’s success. TRACE’s students and staff meet at neighborhood recreation centers, community libraries, and portable classrooms on three community college campuses. In all, TRACE makes available program-related services at over 30 different locations. The original idea behind this arrangement was to move teachers and case managers from “classrooms into the community,” as the students themselves are moving from school to adult life. But there are additional benefits. Because it is decentralized and community-based, TRACE has eliminated most of the conventional overhead costs of maintaining a building and employing support staff, allowing the program to use more of its financial resources to provide student services, such as subsidized salaries. To keep the program growing, the staff regularly explore new avenues for using funds in ways that create more resources for more students.
Judee Chambliss, TRACE resource teacher, insists the program has been lucky. According to her, the TRACE has not suffered any budget cuts during the current year, when other agencies have been hit with many. But luck probably has less to do with it than hard work and dedication — and results. Nationally, individuals with disabilities suffer twice the poverty rate of individuals without disabilities. But TRACE is doing its part to change these data. The program successfully places and employs 80 percent of its graduates; and upon exit from the program, 100 percent of TRACE students with a developmental disability are engaged in vocational activities.
Relationships constitute a fourth reason TRACE is thriving. The staff has worked hard for years to secure working partnerships with 13 coordinating agencies, such as Goodwill, Partners with Industry, and Employment and Community Options. TRACE staff meet formally and informally with these organizations and provide them with regular updates. They take no connection for granted.
TRACE’s enrollment has doubled in the last year alone: further proof of the program’s success. Its reputation for good work has spread among the disabilities community, and TRACE’s unique inclusive philosophy and successes have made it a statewide model. The TRACE staff give workshops and trainings and provide technical assistance in the form of site visits to numerous SELPAs (Special Education Local Plan Areas) and school districts that are working to replicate the TRACE approach. TRACE was just awarded the second largest Transition Partnership Program grant in the state. And within the last year it has received two awards for excellence: a CalSTAT Leadership Award for excellence in transition and the Compass Family Center STAR Award for excellence in serving families with special needs. Both awards are clearly well deserved for this impressive program serving young adults with disabilities at a very vulnerable time in their lives.
To contact TRACE, phone Colleen
Harmon at 619-497-0218.
By Susan Sklar, Project Facilitator, Centinela Valley Union High School District Transition Services
Jason’s disappointments started early in life. His first was when he was removed
from preschool for being disruptive. Jason had few friends, and throughout
the subsequent years he struggled with school. When his attention deficit/hyperactivity
disorder was finally diagnosed in high school, the private school he was attending
was unable to help. In 2003, as a sophomore, he transferred to a local public
high school, where appropriate services were available through the special
education program. But he arrived with a huge chip on his shoulder, angry,
failing most of his classes, fighting with his parents and classmates, depressed,
and discouraged. So this high school proved to be just more of the same. Home
study became the refuge of last resort.
Jason was a bright and sensitive young man (everyone said so), but nothing had helped him achieve even the simplest of dreams — he wanted to graduate from high school, find a job, and lead a productive and full life. But even with home study, his dreams were fading. Seeing his frustration, his home-study teacher referred him in the fall of 2004 to Centinela Valley Union High School District Transition Services. Distrustful of the process, all Jason could imagine were more broken promises and more adults who said they wanted to help — and then gave up on him.
On his first visit to Transition Services at Centinela, I separated the family members and talked privately with Jason, who broke down and confessed he felt helpless and hopeless. He told me that he didn’t want promises; he wanted a path to a future and self-sufficiency — something many adults had offered, but none had shown him.
What I saw in Jason was someone who was bright, capable, and sensitive; someone who wanted help, but also wanted to help. I focused on “what can Jason do” not “what can’t he do.”
After spending time with Jason, assessing him, and carefully searching for potential employers, we placed him in a sales position at a pet store. For the first time in his life, he found himself enjoying something, achieving respect for what he could do, and not being rebuked for what he couldn’t.
His next assignment was in a warehouse. Again he excelled; and after six months, the warehouse manager offered him permanent employment. Suddenly, Jason was experiencing something new: self-confidence. He had been successful in two different jobs. For the first time in his life he found himself imbued with a sense of self-worth and purpose — he saw an achievable dream, and a positive future within his reach. All because someone took the time to address what he could do, not correct what he could not.
For years, his relationship with his family had been contentious and rancorous — poor, at best. His family ran an automotive repair shop, and Jason loved tinkering with motorcycles and fixing things. His family’s shop had an opening for an apprentice mechanic, and, with his two employment successes under his belt, Jason applied. At first skeptical, his father finally relented and agreed to hire Jason on a trial basis.
Jason has now been on the job for more than two years. He is an exemplary employee, well liked by both co-workers and customers. And for the first time in his life he has found a best friend: His dad and he are inseparable. And his mom says she has her son back, one she cherishes and had missed for years. Best of all, Jason has plans for his new future. He has bought his first car, is making plans to obtain his GED (General Education Development), and looks forward to buying a home and expanding the auto repair business.
At Centinela, our approach with all of our students is simple: We find their
abilities and capitalize on them. We focus our planning on their strengths
and their own dreams for their future. In general, our transition services
staff start working with all students with disabilities at age 14 through 22,
with the goal of helping them develop the skills they need to achieve their
full potential as adults. We accomplish this not just by supporting them, but
also by collaborating with their families, schools, and communities.
We take everyone who comes to us and operate with no set criteria for whom we accept. If a student wants what we have to offer, we figure out a way to make it work. Each student’s general and vocational education
teacher participates in shaping the student’s transition plan and coordinating and designing activities to promote a successful and seamless transition from school to postsecondary activities, including education, vocational
training, and employment.
We have much to be thankful for and are particularly grateful to WorkAbility and the Transition Partnership Program. They help us grow and allow us to serve our students in innovative ways.
In general, we are very proud of Transition Services at Centinela. Within
the last year we have won the Golden Bell Award from the California School
Boards Association and the GOAL (Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning)
Award from the California Advisory Commission on Special Education. But probably
our strongest endorsements come from former clients who have graduated from
our program and continue to maintain contact with us for many years. In fact,
Jason’s family’s auto shop is currently interviewing Transition Services clients
for employment. That’s our success coming back to thank us.
By Robert Hamilton, Resource Specialist, Lakeport Unified School District, and CARS-Plus Newsletter Director
Last June, Liz graduated from high school with a solid B grade-point average, having passed the California High School Exit Exam, having completed a year of algebra, having been voted by the faculty the November “Student of the Month,” and having earned a job with the city government as a clerk trainee. She had also begun taking business courses at her local community college during her senior year, in preparation for her chosen career as an office manager. She has been our remarkable transition “cover girl” and a role model for other students. But just writing this makes it seem so much easier than it was. In truth, Liz’s successes are the culmination of four years of transition planning.
Four years ago, we would not have predicted such a successful outcome in Liz’s senior year. As a ninth-grader, she regularly missed school. She had frequent doctor’s appointments, baby-sitting chores (both of her parents worked), and other family responsibilities that often took her out of school for at least part of the day. However, knowing all of this at her first annual IEP meeting helped us select her first transition goal: to show up for school every day and stick it out until 3:15. We had to convince both Liz and her mother of the need to regularly attend school, since, in their experience, students just “moved along” in special education — despite irregular attendance, poor preparation, and little motivation.
Those of us on Liz’s IEP team knew that the adult world, which Liz would very soon be entering, is very different from — and typically much less forgiving than — the world of high school and special education. In an effort to help educators bridge these worlds for students, a group of employers from many fields, working with the federal government’s Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), outlined the skills they seek in potential employees. Along with the expected reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, the commission listed as priorities such skills as decision making and problem solving. It listed the ability to manage time, to learn new skills, to be responsible, to work with others and negotiate agreements, and to have integrity and honesty. The SCANS list also included the ability to work with groups of diverse people, and the qualities of “friendliness, empathy and politeness.” Implicit in many of these qualities was the ability to show up at a job every day, on time, and ready to work. These skills are not regularly taught in school, except incidentally.
The real key to Liz’s eventual success in school was that we took the SCANS mandate to heart. In addition to “showing up,” we required Liz to be personally responsible for every form, every required signature, and every phone call and contact during her high school years. On deadline, on schedule, and on time. She made it happen, and she knew that she was making it happen. This change in her own sense of responsibility marked the true beginning of her successful transition. However, it did not happen inadvertently. It happened because we planned it.
What is a good age to begin transition planning? The law says at the age of 16. But students are transitioning all the time. They transition from half-day kindergarten to full-day elementary school. In junior high school they transition out of a single-classroom setting into a six- or seven-period day. And throughout every school day they are transitioning from solitary work to group work, and from one activity to another. All of these small points of transition can be used as “teachable moments” and shown to be important in developing those successful life skills that employers want in their workforce.
Liz had worked for her father in his electrician’s business since she was young enough to carry tools for him. She knew more about electrical installation than most adults. Not surprisingly, she expressed a strong interest in becoming an office manager for an electrical business. We were able to arrange for her to “job shadow” in an office. Given her difficulties with reading and writing, I didn’t expect her to like it. But she came back from that experience even more convinced that this was the career for her.
Knowing a student’s strengths and interests makes it possible for members of an IEP team to create and support successful transition plans. And knowing some practical realities makes it possible for adults to help students execute those plans. For example, many students in high school believe they want nothing to do with college. But adults know that sometimes community colleges are the most convenient and least expensive means to achieving a goal. Specifically, automotive school is expensive; a community college with a good automotive program is not. Breaking into a full-time fire-fighting job is difficult; having an Associate in Science degree in fire science gives a student a hiring advantage over others without it. It is important to help students learn about their best options.
During Liz’s senior year, the caseworker for our Transition Partnership Program (TPP) advised Liz to take a community college class. She signed up for two: an accounting class and a computer class. Then in June she enrolled for summer classes and in the fall began taking 12 units, working toward her AA degree in business.
Students who see the possibility of a successful future are more likely to be motivated to work diligently. But the goal needs to be theirs, and the activities we ask them to pursue need to be relevant to that goal. A student who truly wants to be a carpenter, for example, will study math if you can show her that numerical calculations are critical to a future job in carpentry.
Ben French, a special educator at Yosemite High School in Merced, cites another important aspect to effective transition: community linkages. “Agencies like the California Department of Rehabilitation should be invited to [transition] meetings. The Employment Development Department can provide job placement and skill development. Job Corps provides great opportunities for students to develop job skills. ROP classes are provided by counties for students to develop job skills. Many school districts offer adult education classes that provide job skill development. Community colleges provide disabled student services and financial aid.”
In the spring of her senior year, Liz was offered a job through the Transition
Partnership Program (TPP) at her city’s government offices, with TPP picking
up the tab for Liz’s wages. This allowed the city administration (which had
imposed a hiring freeze) to employ an office helper at no cost. That placement
led to a summer job for Liz, supported by a city-written grant, and eventually
to Liz being hired permanently in the fall. She is currently working in city
government as a clerk.
As special educators, there is a great deal we can do to help students see their high school studies and experiences as a useful pathway into adult life. Again, from Ben French: “We, as special educators, can facilitate this process through the development of vocational IEP goals.” These goals can connect classroom activities to transition activities, making school more relevant to the student’s life.
At the bottom of this page is an example of a transition goal taken from the CARS+ Secondary Transition Goals handbook, along with benchmarks for reaching it — all of which adhere to the state’s content standards. By delivering California content standards and transition goals seamlessly, we can make school activities meaningful for the student, without watering down the curriculum or placing transition goals in a “poor stepchild” position. Not an afterthought, but the centerpiece of the discussion.
We worked with Liz; we helped her discover her strengths and interests; and
we defined goals and provided experiences that gave her the education she needed
to realize her dreams. Today, she has a career in front of her. She is happy,
animated, and looking at her future not as something to be feared, but with
anticipation and excitement. If we ever make a transition poster, she’ll be
Goal: Benchmarks: Standards Addressed:
Student will identify career pathways/clusters that match their individual interests and strengths.
By (date), based on self-assessments, student will explore career clusters through electronic and text media.
By (date), based on self-assessments, student will explore career clusters by listening to guest speakers and interviews.
By (date), based on self-assessments, student will explore career clusters by going on job shadow experiences, field trips and attending job fairs.
By (date), students will explain/write the career pathways/clusters that match their individual interests and strengths that were identified through self-assessments. Reading Comprehension 8.2.1
Compare and contrast the features and elements of consumer materials to gain meaning.
Writing Strategies 9/10.1.2, 910.1.4, 9/10.1.8, 9/10.1.9
Write an essay on "The Career for Me" to demonstrate research and technology, organization, focus, evaluation and revision. Use supporting documentation and citations from research.
The resource Secondary Transition Goals helps teachers create the standards-based goals that are required as part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities and that help students prepare for life after high school. This resource addresses such issues as self-determination and advocacy, career preparation, work experience, and community involvement. All proceeds from the sale of this resource go to support the CARS+ Diana Blackmon Scholarship for New Secondary Special Educators Working in Transition. To learn more, go to www.carsplus.org/publications.php.
January 15 –17
Strategies For All Seasons
The 20th Annual Regions 1 and 4 winter institute focuses on building partnerships between general and special educators. Presentations will address issues and challenges associated with implementing effective response to intervention (RtI) strategies, literacy, behavior, transition, and parent partnerships. Rohnert Park, CA. For more information, phone 707-964-9000, or go to www.mcoe.us.
January 22 – 24
Opening Doors to Universal Learning
The Technology, Reading, and Learning Diversity (TRLD) conference, focusing on professional development opportunities that promote universal learning, is designed for all educators interested in providing access to learning for all students. San Francisco. For more information, phone 888-594-1249, e-mail email@example.com, or go to www.trld.com.
February 5 – 6
A New Day 2009: Living and Working in California
The Association of Regional Center Agencies, dedicated to meeting the goals and needs of people with developmental disabilities, focuses this conference on employment and housing. Breakout sessions will address such topics as transition from school into adult life, key legislation, workforce development, and more. San Francisco. For more information, phone 916-446-7961, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.pai-ca.org/news/2009-05-06_New_Day_ACRA.pdf.
February 20 – 21
Strike It Rich With CARS+
This twenty-eighth annual CARS+ convention is designed to bring together special educators and others in the field of special education for professional development and renewal. Professional Development Continuing Education Credit is available. Reno, Nevada. To register or to learn more, phone 916-725-2277, or go to www.carsplus.org.
Feb. 24 –26
SEECAP 2009 Symposium
This Special Education Early Childhood Administrator’s Project event will address the unique professional development needs of early childhood school administrators and early childhood special education programs. Sacramento, CA. For more information, phone 760-761-5526 or visit www.sdcoe.net/seecap.
March 2 –3
2009 California Secondary Transition Conference: Blueprint for Success
Sponsored by the California Department of Education, this conference is designed for teachers, parents, support personnel, youths, administrators, rehabilitation practitioners, community stakeholders, employers, workforce development personnel, social workers, and representatives from adult service agencies invested in the successful transition of youths with disabilities. The event’s goal is to strengthen and expand the knowledge, working relationship, and network of secondary transition professionals working in the field of
special education, with a particular focus on the role of youths and families in the transition process. Professional Development Continuing Education Credit is available. Anaheim, CA. For more information, e-mail Nancylynn Ward at email@example.com or go to www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/ac/cop2009.asp.
March 3 and 4
SEECAP Special Events: Legislation and LRE For Early Childhood Education/Special Education Administrators and School Leaders
On March 3, SEECAP hosts Sharon Walsh, who will address legislative updates related to early childhood education. On March 4, SEECAP offers an all-day workshop on least restrictive environments (LRE). Newport Beach, CA. For more information, phone 760-761-5526 or visit www.sdcoe.net/seecap.
Eddie Rea remembers what it was like to get up in front of his high school class and read. Eddie, who is dyslexic, was the butt of teasing by classmates. But his learning disability didn’t keep him from participating in school activities and demonstrating the qualities that made him a candidate for the California Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), a unique summer program for students with disabilities.
Since its inception in 1992, YLF has given Eddie and more than 900 alumni with learning and physical disabilities the encouragement and the resources they need to make the transition from school to the next phase of their lives — be it work or higher education — and to live independently.
The intensive, five-day program was “an eye-opener” for Eddie, now 20. He says he learned that all students with disabilities “are part of the same community, whether their disabilities are hidden like mine or physical.” Eddie attended YLF the summer after graduating from Sanger High School in Fresno County, went on to study business at Reedley College, and currently sits on the California Advisory Commission on Special Education.
YLF’s annual forum at California State University, Sacramento, is open to high school juniors and seniors who demonstrate leadership potential and whose resumés include both academic achievement and participation in extra-curricular activities. Each year the California Department of Education sends applications to every high school in California, and YLF alumni and independent living centers throughout the state recruit applicants. Finalists are interviewed in person; about 60 students are selected. YLF is funded by private and corporate contributions.
The formal part of the program covers such topics as “Choosing a Career,” “Understanding the History of Disability as a Culture,” and learning to manage health care issues. The students identify obstacles to their personal and professional success and develop plans to deal with them. They also develop public policy recommendations that address the needs of individuals with disabilities, and they formally present their recommendations to state officials. But it is often the informal interaction that students recall — interaction with their peers and with the speakers and staff, many of whom are successful adults with disabilities.
“YLF was a life-changing experience for me,” says Christina Mills who, like
many participants, had been mainstreamed and had little contact with other
youths with disabilities. “I found my own culture and felt completely accepted.”
Christina was born with osteogenisis imperfecta, a genetic disorder characterized
by bones that break easily, and she uses a wheelchair. But the disability hasn’t
slowed her down. After attending YLF in 1995 when she was a high school junior,
she attended Palomar Community College and California State University San
Marcos. Today, at 30, she is the statewide community organizer at the California
Foundation for Independent Living Centers. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t
gone to YLF,” she says.
The forum was initially organized and staffed by the Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. It was the first of its kind in the country and has been the model for similar programs in more than 30 states. Today it is run by a committee of representatives of several state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and YLF alumni. Catherine Campisi has been there from the beginning — as a counselor the first year, later as a speaker, and then as a member of the planning committee. Former director of the state Department of Rehabilitation and current specialist in the Disabled Students Programs and Services division of the California Community Colleges Systems Office, Campisi says that some students “have a sense of shame” about their disability. YLF “raises their self-esteem tremendously. They connect with one another, and when they leave, many say ‘I know who I am; this is my family.’”
That is the goal, says Teresa Favuzzi, executive director of the Foundation
for Independent Living Centers: “to bring youths across all types of disabilities
together so they understand they’re part
of a larger community. It’s wonderful to see that happen.”
It happened for Shannon Rossall, who graduated this spring from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in child and adolescent studies. Shannon has attention deficit disorder and some learning disabilities, including difficulty with auditory processing. Always mainstreamed, she had no exposure to the disability culture until she attended YLF in 2003. “I had the opportunity to see the fact that I am a person with a disability, but I shouldn’t have to hide that. It’s part of who I am.” Shannon, 22, has been back to YLF as a staff member every year and plans to return to college in the fall for a teaching credential.
Like Shannon, many YLF alumni are graduates of colleges and universities — including UCLA and Stanford. They have successful careers and lead independent lives. While no statistics have been compiled, Campisi says that “about half or more” of the participants attend community colleges. The largest disability group in the community college system is the learning disabled. The colleges aren’t aware of which students are YLF alumni, but, “with appropriate intervention and support, the learning disabled are virtually indistinguishable from other students,” says Scott Berenson, coordinator of Disabled Students Programs and Services at the California Community Colleges Systems Office.
Providing that intervention and support for young people with a broad spectrum of disabilities is what YLF is about. In addition to the information offered during the five-day forum, students learn how they may be eligible to participate in subsequent internships or mentoring programs.
Learning more about past participants and their post-YLF lives is one of the
projects of the recently formed YLF Alumni Alliance. With approximately 100
current members, the alliance is using Internet sites like Facebook and MySpace
to track other alumni and plans to hold mini-reunions around the state. The
alliance is also looking to take an increased role in planning and presenting
the forum. Its stated goal is to chair YLF in 2009 with support from state
agencies. The alliance was founded by Christina Mills, Eddie Rea, and Cynthia
Cadet, a 1998 YLF participant. “The program changed our lives,” says Eddie,
“so we wanted to get this going.”
The program also gave Cynthia, 27, a personal goal. Students and volunteer staff stay in campus dormitories during the forum at Cal State Sacramento. “I went as a delegate, and I thought, ‘This is where I want to be,’” she remembers. Now, after graduating from Grossmont Community College, Cynthia, who was diagnosed with arthritis and lupus when she was 12 years old, will reach her goal. She will attend Sac State in the fall.
California Services for Technical
Assistance and Training (CalSTAT)
A Special Project of the Napa County Office of Education| 5789 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Fax: 707-586-2735 | email:firstname.lastname@example.org