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.
Engaging Youth in Transition in the Community
All youth can benefit from positive interactions with adults and peers. The following section describes the investments federal agencies are making for youth aged 16 to 24 in areas such as positive youth development, mentoring, youth-adult partnerships, and community service. To find out more about positive youth development, please see the positive youth development, civic engagement and volunteering, mentoring, and service-learning youth topics.
AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps
Eligibility: Youth aged 18 to 24
Focus: Service learning, positive youth development
The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is one of three programs that form AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in service to address critical community needs within the United States. NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women aged 18 to 24. The NCCC mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.
For ten months, members serve on teams to meet urgent community needs in disaster relief, environment, education, public safety, and unmet human needs. Teams work on projects throughout the country with non-profit programs, state and local agencies, and other community- and faith-based groups. During the ten-month term of service, members complete a variety of six- to eight-week projects throughout a multi-state region. NCCC members are provided with housing, food, health benefits, transportation to projects, and qualified student loan forbearance. Participants earn a modest living stipend of about $200 every two weeks, before taxes. Upon successful completion of the program, they also earn a $5,350 education award that can be applied to future schooling or existing student loans.
Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people
Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.
Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.
Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).