Post-grad planning for special education students
Life after high school can be overwhelming. Kent County public school districts are partnering with more than 50 service providers to bring resources to families and students in special education programs.
The first Transition to Life Fair is Tuesday, March 10 at the Capital School District office, 198 Commerce Way, Dover, from 4-6 p.m.
Kyle Hill, special education resource teacher at Caesar Rodney School District, said the fair is for ages 14-21, whether they are transitioning into high school or considering career and post-graduation pathways.
“It’s really about the whole kid,” Hill said. “It’s not just about finding them a job, but it’s about trying to bring info to the students and families about different services that will be available for them as they move through the whole transitional process.”
The free fair will include multiple breakout sessions with keynote speakers covering topics like utilizing pre-employment transition services, building healthy relationships and mental health awareness. Food and door prizes will be available.
Vendors from the areas of training, education, employment, independent living, counseling, and transportation will answer questions and share information.
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services are two major providers. These state agencies help youth and families transition into employment, education and adult living.
Jennifer Garcias is the director of day services and transition at DDDS. Since many school districts partner with state agencies, she wants to make sure students are not left out once they graduate.
“We try to partner very closely with the Department of Education and local school districts and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, so that way, as students are transitioning from school services to adult services, there’s no lack in them having services,” she said.
While DDDS services vary on an individual basis, some examples include teaching pre-employment skills or providing a job coach to support the individual with tasks like clocking in or out.
Garcias hopes that bringing all the service providers together at the Transition to Life Fair will help make everything less overwhelming for families.
She said her message to families is, “Know that there is a lot of support out there, and the process can be involved, but it’s not impossible.”
She encouraged parents or guardians to start looking at transitional services early, like age 14, and to ask questions until they understand and get the information they need.
- Education and/or training: Project Search (work-based training with Capital and Caesar Rodney school districts), STRIVE, Dover Air Base (family transitional services), Career and Life Studies Certificate Program, Delaware Technical Community College, Spectrum Scholars, Delaware Center for Adult Learning, Polytech Adult Education, Delaware State University Student Accessibility Services, Department of Visual Impairment, Aurora Beauty Academy and Easter Seals.
- Independent living: Del-One, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (counseling), CIS (counseling), Planned Parenthood, DART Transportation, Mental Edge (counseling), DATI, State Counsel for Persons with Disabilities, People Ready, Bayhealth and Champions DE (counseling)
- Employment and training: Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, EDGE counseling service, St. Johns Community Employment and Career and Life Studies Certificate Program