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Katie, Age 6



Under law, a transition plan to support successful post-school employment and education must be developed for every student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) by the time they reach the age of 15. The plan must include a statement addressing the transition to adult life and information on the student’s unique needs, preferences and interests. The plan should lay out goals with regard to training, education, employment, and independent living skills necessary for success as an adult. In order to help you plan we have created a fact sheet on students’ rights in transition planning and expanded our on-line resources below.




If a student receives special education services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles him or her to certain rights in planning for transition to life after school.  Make sure you are familiar with those rights and consider ways you can help assure the most successful transition planning for your child as he or she prepares for life after high school.   

Students’ rights in transition planning

To download a copy of our factsheet on Transitioning from High School see here.

  • At the age of 12, students must begin to receive vocational assessments, which take information from interviews with the student, parent/guardian, and teacher and are intended to help students begin their planning for life after high school.
  • At the age of 15, all IEPs must include the following pieces specific to transition from school to post-school activities:           
    • A statement of the student’s needs.
    • Age-appropriate, measurable goals for post-secondary life based on appropriate transition assessments that relate to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills.
    • A list of activities to help the student achieve those goals.
    • A statement of responsibilities expected of the student, family, school or other agencies to promote the student’s transition plan.
  • In the year the student exits or graduates from school, the school must complete a Student Exit Summary detailing present levels of performance, any accommodations or supports the student will require, post-secondary goals, and a list of agencies to provide support to achieve those goals. 
  • All students with disabilities have a right to stay in school or return to school until the year they turn 21, or achieve a Local, Regents, or Advanced Regents Diploma. (See below for more detail.)
  • After students complete high school or turn 21, they will no longer be entitled to special education services under the IDEA, but they will be entitled to accommodations for disabilities as well as services from certain government agencies listed below under other laws.  This is an important shift as it signals the young person’s move from a system where they were entitled to services (services should have found them) to one where they are eligible for accommodations and/or services (they need to seek out the accommodations and/or services).

How can parents encourage students to participate in their own transition planning?
In helping your child plan what to do and where to go when he or she finishes high school, help him or her consider his or her next steps and what he or she will need to achieve transition goals.   Think about the things that interest him or her, things that he or she is are good at, and skills he or she can develop to determine what is right for him or her as an individual.  Once your child has decided on a career or educational pathway to explore, you will need to help him or her think about what to do to get there. 

  • Transition planning works best when students are involved, so prepare your child to self-advocate.
  • Encourage young people with special education needs to read their IEPs and transition plans, or assist them with reading and understanding both.
  • Help students identify their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals. 
  • Encourage students to think about long-term goals and what they need to do to reach them.
  • Help your child understand his or her disability and teach him or her to ask for the supports they need.
  • Discuss your child’s medical needs with him or her.
  • Introduce students to adult role models with disabilities.
  • Encourage experience and independence.

What does your child need to know? 
Young people should talk to their guidance counselors, but they should think beyond that, too.   They should think about their strengths, skills, and interests, and consider multiple options.

  • If your child is thinking of going to college, help him or her explore options and understand how it will be different from high school.  
  • Once in college, students with disabilities will need to self-identify and request services from their schools.   Every college has an office of accessibility.  

Where else can you go for free information?

  • Casey Life Skills provides tools to help you prepare for adulthood.   - (206) 282-7300.
  • Career Cluster Videos can be found at and are another good place to find out more about job possibilities.
  • Career Zone is maintained by the New York State Department of Labor and is a good place to explore careers related to strengths, skills, and talents - (877) 226-5724.
  • Disabled Person is another database where people with disabilities can search by job title, job description, key words, and location to find possibilities for life after high school.  - (760) 420-1269.
  • The Federal government sponsored Exploring Your Career Options site at and Kids.Gov: Job Resources at are two other good places to look.
  • The How-To Career Resource Library at is a good place to explore the typical path to finding employment in a number of areas.
  • Kids as Self Advocates (KASA) is a national project created by youth with disabilities. They have helpful tip sheets on education and work- (334) 230-5441.
  • National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD) has information about employment and youth with disabilities.   - (877) 871-0744 extension 154.
    • Have your child give thought to whether or not, and when he or she would like, to disclose information about his or her disability to employers and schools.   For more information on the rights to privacy and disclosure of disability, see NCWD’s 411 on Disability Disclosure.
  • New York State Job Zone is an online tool to help identify strengths, skills, and talents, explore occupations, and search education and training databases.  - (877) 226-5724.
  • O-Net Online allows an individual to search careers by keywords and find out the necessary knowledge bases, skills, abilities, education, technological skills, and employment outlook for jobs of interest. 
  • has a page dedicated specifically to transition and employment
  • is a website dedicated to improving educational and employment outcomes for people with disabilities.   - (391) 424-2002.
  • We Connect Now is a website created by college students to serve college students with disabilities.
  • Students should consider going to job fairs run by their schools or the NYC Department of Education.

What can parents do to help assure better transition plans? 

  • Inform your child’s teacher if your child wants to lead the IEP meeting.  He or she can always ask for help during the meeting if it gets too tough.
  • Communicate with the rest of the IEP team early about assessments required under law for developing transition plans.
  • Urge transition planning to begin earlier than at age 15.
  • Talk to agencies already involved with your child and get their help related to transition planning,
  • Identify new possible resources to help your child transition to life after high school.
  • Practice job interviews and/or asking for accommodations with your child.

Diploma options in New York State

In thinking about life after high school, it is important to think about a student’s educational path in high school.  Every student should know his or her diploma goals.  New York State currently offers four different diploma options: Advanced Regents Diploma, Regents Diploma, Local Diploma, and non-diploma options that include the Career Development and Occupational Students (CDOS) Commencement Credential and the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential (SACC).  In addition, some people earn a GED (General Education Development).  Make sure you know the requirements for each option so you can work to make sure your child is on track to complete those requirements before turning 21. 

For specific information on the available options we urge you to review the following sites:

Post-Secondary Education and Career Options
As students begin to think about life after high school, they need to consider all their options.   Whether a student plans to go to a college or a trade school, or find a job right away, here are some resources for information and support during that transition period. 

For students looking for academic support as they head to college programs 

  • Educational Opportunity Program (EOP):  Available at colleges in the SUNY system.  Provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for mastering college-level work, but who may not otherwise be admitted.  (518) 443-5793.
  • Talent Search Program: Provides college advisement and tutoring. Young people should start by becoming members atThe Door.  Walk-in Monday–Thursday 2:00 to 5:00 pm. (212) 941-9090.  
  • US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights:  To learn about your child’s rights and responsibilities as a college student, see the federal government’s Department of Education website or call the Office of Civil Rights at (800) 421-3481.
  • Goddard Riverside Community Center – Education and College Access Program: Provides one-to-one college counseling, mentoring and tutoring for students, and training for professionals engaged in the field of college counseling.

For students seeking information about GED programs

For students who need help with job placement?

  • Next Generation Center: Based in the Bronx. The center offers job training and placement for youth ages 18 to 24. Walk in from 2:30 – 4:30 pm.  (718) 589-4441.
  • NYC Workforce 1 Career Centers: City run career centers with job placement services, job listings, computers and printers.  Offer some on-site training in computer skills and possible vouchers for additional job training.   Offices in all five boroughs.  (718) 960-2458.
  • Young Adult Internship Program:  Twelve-week paid internships (25 hours per week) for young people who are not in school or working.
    • Young people should start by becoming members at The Door. Walk-in Monday–Thursday 2:00 to 5:00 pm. (212) 941-9090.  
    • The Young person must live in one of the following zip codes to participate in YAIP - 10034, 10040, 10033, 10032, 10031, 10039, 10030, 10037, 10035, 10023, 10024, 10025, 10026, 10027, 10009, 10002. Call (212) 941-9090 for the most current information.

For students interested in job training, job readiness support, and help finding employment

  • Center for the Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY): Runs two programs for Queens students with disabilities ages 14 to 21 and their parents, Strides and Step up.   To find out more contact Aillen Aponte, Youth Services Coordinator, at 646-442-4152
  • Covenant House:   Provides job training for those interested in working as bank tellers or certified nurses aids, or in the culinary arts, construction, customer service, or computer fields.   Open to youth between 17 and 21 years old.  Offices in all five boroughs.  Call (212) 613-0300 for more information. 
  • Exalt: Brooklyn-based, 10-month intensive training program and follow up support for students between 15 and 20 who are enrolled in school. (347) 381-8100. 
  • Henry Street Settlement:  Based in Manhattan.  This two-week job training course also provides job placement, job referrals and help for ESL job seekers. (212) 478-5400.  
  • Non-Traditional Employment for Women (NEW):  Six-week program preparing women for careers in the construction, utilities and transportation industries.  Must be 18 and have high school diploma or GED.  (212) 627-6252. 
  • Project Hire: Based in the Bronx, this 20-week program provides training for men and women in carpentry, painting, plumbing electrical wiring, and building maintenance.  Provides placement after training. No GED required for youths 19 and up. Younger individuals may be admitted with high school diploma or GED. (718) 289-5589. 
  • Strive:  Four-week job training program in computer literacy, interviewing, and other skills (for youths 17 and up).  (212) 360-1100. 
  • Year UpOne year intensive job training program (with pay) for youths between 18 and 24 years old who have achieved their high school diploma or GED.  (212) 785-3340.

For students looking for scholarship assistance

  • Through the Looking Glass offers college scholarship to students who are under 21 and who have a parent who has a disability.  The website also includes links to additional scholarship opportunities for students of parents with disabilities and students with disabilities.

For students with on-going health care needs

Government agencies that may provide support as your child transitions to life after high school 
The definition of disability at adult agencies differs from that of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Please do not assume that a young person will qualify to receive services simply because he or she had an IEP as a child.  Visit agencies and websites for more information about eligibility and application processes.

  • The Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES – VR):The state agency (formerly known as VESID) that provides vocational and rehabilitational services including job training and counseling, for youth and adults with physical, psychiatric, mental health, or learning disabilities, and may provide support for individuals with disabilities while attending college.
    • Bronx – (718) 931-3500                                  Queens – (718) 271-8315
    • Brooklyn – (718) 722-6701                             Staten Island – (718) 816-4800
    • Manhattan – (212) 961-4420
  • The Office of Mental Health (OMH):  The state agency serves New York residents with mental health needs. Programs overseen by OMH include inpatient and outpatient programs, community support, residential, supportive housing, and family care programs.  1-800-597-8481.
  • Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD):  OPWDD provides services to eligible individuals, including supports for independent living, supportive and supervised residences, work and day activities, health care services and service coordination. Find information about eligibility, assessment, and housing initiatives on their website, or contact a center:
    • Bronx and Manhattan - (212) 229-3000         Queens – (718) 217-4242
    • Brooklyn - (718) 642-6000                              Staten Island – (718) 983-5200
  • Social Security Administration (SSA):  .  SSA funds programs that provide benefits for people of any age who are unable to do substantial work and have severe mental or physical impairments.  Apply online or call (800) 772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for an appointment. 
    • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI): Adults with disabilities may qualify to receive social security disability income as a “child” benefit under a parent’s social security earnings record if they became disabled before reaching adulthood.  A person who is eligible for SSDI will automatically become eligible for Medicare after receiving SSDI benefits for two years. For more information, see here
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  SSI benefits are available to adults or children who are disabled or blind.  They are not based on prior work history.  The applicant must have limited income and resources to qualify.  See here for more information.  SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid. 
    • PLANS To Achieve Self-Support (PASS):   An SSI provision to help individuals with disabilities return to work by allowing individuals with disabilities to set aside money and/or other things they own to pay for items or services needed to achieve specific work goals.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP): ODEP works to influence national policy and promote effective workplace practices to ensure that the workforce is inclusive of all people, including people with disabilities.  ODEP’s website includes some helpful information for youth with disabilities seeking employment.   See here for details.

Independent agencies that may be able to offer you and your child support during the transition process

For a list of independent agencies that may be able to offer advocacy support during the transition process see our About us and Resources pages.
This document represents only a partial list of organizations offering resources for people with disabilities.  It is a list in progress.   Please feel free to contact if you have suggested additions.
The ARISE Coalition does not endorse any of these sites or programs.