The goal for this project is to increase employment, education, career and independent living opportunities for young people with disabilities in Boston.
- Increase community awareness and knowledge among youth, parents and community organizations of the transition rights and strategies for students under the special education law and of ways to empower parents and youth to participate in the transition process.
- Improve transition planning and services for Boston students with disabilities age 14-22 so they will stay in school and exit special education prepared for further education, employment, and independent living.
- Provide opportunities for Boston students with disabilities to more fully integrate into the mainstream of career and workforce development opportunities.
There are over 4,300 youth ages 14-22 who receive special education supports and/or services in Boston public schools (BPS or charter schools). Successful transition would engage Boston students and their parents through the special education IEP team process in developing a vision and specific goals for the future based on raised expectations; provide the supports needed to carry out that plan; link students to the resources for career, guidance, academic and workforce development available in their schools and community; and result in each student achieving individualized goals so they are best positioned to succeed in their post-secondary path to employment and independent living.
It is critical to improve transition planning and services for Boston’s youth with disabilities, as they have significantly lower graduation rates and higher dropout rates. The poverty rate for adults with disabilities in Massachusetts is four times those without disabilities, and only 37% of adults with disabilities participate in the workforce (work full or part time) compared to 82% of people without disabilities.* These are major issues for many districts in the state and nationwide. The Boston Public Schools recognizes this need, and has prioritized addressing transition opportunities for the city’s youth with disabilities.
*The Massachusetts Disability Employment Initiative, Plan to Maximize Employment for People with Disabilities in MA, February 2009, pp. 5-6