Coordinator of Alternative Programs/Transition
Program Mission Statement:
The Transition Department is designed to prepare students with disabilities for adult life, as life- long learners and productive community members. Students are provided the opportunity to learn and grow through community learning experiences, travel training, internships, and functional academics based on their needs, interests and vision for their future. The Transition Program staff assist students and their families in connecting to community agencies/resources, and adult funding sources prior to the student leaving the Worcester Public Schools in order to have a more seamless transition to adult life in the community.
Since 1999, the special education department of the Worcester Public Schools (WPS) have been developing and refining a continuum of transition supports and services for students with disabilities. This began with a 3 C’s (College, Career, and Community Connections) grant supporting 3 students with intellectual disabilities from one of the five high schools, who were between 18 – 22 years old, and had completed 4 years of high school, were still eligible for transition services, and expressed interest in exploring post-secondary options. In collaboration with staff from the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMASS Boston, staff from the WPS supported these students in auditing college courses and completing internships that were related to career interests, securing jobs and increasing independence in all aspects of life. Prior to 1999, most of the students with significant intellectual disabilities exited school at 22, either to remain at home or to enter a sheltered workshop.
Worcester’s Transition Program, has grown into a comprehensive district-wide initiative that includes not just students with intellectual disabilities but many other students with disabilities who have been identified by teachers, families, outside agencies, and administrators as meeting the entrance criteria, and needing additional transition supports to achieve their post-secondary goals. The Transition Department, also provides training and consultation to families, students, and middle and high school personnel, and other school districts on transition related topics for all students with disabilities (including those on the diploma track).
Today, the Community Based Transition Program is preparing young adults with disabilities for life after high school based on their post-secondary vision. This program was designed for non-diploma students with disabilities ages 18-22 who have completed their high school requirements. After their 4 years of high school students walk the stage and earn their certificate of attainment. This signifies the end of their high school career, and students will then be supported in the community at our Fanning Adult Learning Center and/or at the Assumption College Transition Seminar Component (operated by WPS Transition staff). Students will have the opportunity to explore careers and community living through internships, employment, college (funded by a parent or when available grant funded) or adult education, travel training, independent living training and community learning experiences. Community based supports and services are designed based on a student’s specific needs and interests. These combined experiences help students to formulate individual goals working towards their post-secondary vision.
The Transition personnel work closely with adult funding agencies and community partners to ensure that students and families have access to the necessary resources and services prior to the student aging out of the Worcester Public Schools. The Transition Coordinator facilitates a monthly Interagency Student Support Team whose focus is on individual student transition needs, as well as systemic approaches to transition, ensuring that students experience a seamless transition from school to post-secondary life. Members of this team include the Department of Developmental Services, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Center for Living and Working, Workforce Central, and at times students and staff, and guest presenters.
Transition Specialist (Teacher Level Position) - plans, coordinates and delivers a wide range of vocational rehabilitation services to students with disabilities. The transition specialist assists students in developing prevocational / readiness skills in order to enter the workforce, as well as completing formal and informal vocational/transition assessments.
Transition Rehabilitation Specialist (Teacher Level Position) - responsible for creating a progression of vocational opportunities for students, cultivating community resources to increase integration and student independence in community based work and recreation settings and develops and teaches classes/workshops that support the transition needs of the students.
Transition Assistant (Instructional Assistants – Educational and Job Coach) - provides quality transition services in community and school settings to students with disabilities. This position works under the direction of the Transition Specialist and assists with record keeping, safety monitoring, and skills checklists.
Consideration for Community Based Transition Program for Non-diploma Students
- Student has been deemed eligible for special education services.
- The Team has determined the student could benefit from a full time community based transition program model.
- Student has completed their 4 years of high school, completed MCAS Alt portfolio, and earned their Certificate of Attainment.
- ETC has submitted a completed referral packet with current IEP, Student Snapshot, most recent Psychological Evaluation, Medical History, all other pertinent assessments.
- Student and/or guardian are supportive of student participation in the program.
- Student has demonstrated the ability to tolerate a full time flexible community based day.
- Student has demonstrated the interest and ability to benefit from a program with a focus on community learning experiences and community learning activities related to the pre-employment related experiences.
- Student has demonstrated the ability to attend to task for at least 10 minutes with verbal prompts.
- Student has demonstrated the ability to benefit from a varying ratio of 1:3 to 1:5 in the community, unless prior arrangements have been documented within in the IEP.
- Students level of personal care needs can be supported in a community based program safely requiring verbal prompts and/or monitoring, unless prior arrangements have been documented within the IEP.
- Students need for medical supports in a community based program can be met safely based on medical and programmatic review.
- Student has demonstrated the stamina and ability to safely ambulate over distances of at least 6 blocks.
- Student has demonstrated the ability to adhere to school policies and procedures outlined in the Worcester Public Schools Policy Handbook including:
- Student demonstrates safe and appropriate community behavior with verbal support from staff.
- Student has demonstrated the capacity to function emotionally, physically, socially, safely with minimal verbal supports in a variety of community settings.
- Student has no history of disciplinary actions in the high school setting.
- Student has demonstrated good attendance throughout their high school years.