Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
Effective Programs for Transition Age Youth
Researchers have identified common characteristics of effective programs for teens (Hall, Israel and Shortt, 2004):
- Youth feel a sense of independence through participation in the program, including financial independence (wages or stipend).
- Programs offer job skills, job preparation, job training, and actual employment opportunities.
- Schools and principals are active partners.
- Youth are supported as they work to navigate life after high school.
- Youth voices are incorporated into decision making, and participants feel that the time they have dedicated counts.
- Youth interact with peers and adults, including community and business leaders.
- Youth are exposed to life outside of their immediate neighborhood.
- Programs are flexible.
Hall, G., Israel, L., & Shortt, J. (2004). It’s about time! A look at out of school time for urban teens. Wellesley, MA: The National Institute on Out-of-School Time.