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A Note from Lori Norris, CEA Director on Transition Planning

Thu,10/22/2015 - 03:48am

The word ‘transition’ indicates some sort of passage – a process that occurs over time to ease a defined jump from one state to another.  Metaphorically, I like to think of transition as a bridge but the reality in Rhode Island is that for many young adults it is too often a cliff. 
While the transition process for young adults includes housing, health, and relationships with the community, central to this is the need for positive, engaging and effective post-secondary opportunities that align with the individuals’ interests and goals.  The National Development Team for Inclusion (NTDI) heightened the importance of the transition process and transition planning for me when they described that transition is not about planning the process, but rather, it’s about planning lives – a simple but impactful distinction. 
There is no shortage of transition best practices that have been developed through extensive input from youth and their families, educators and providers of service; person-centered planning, paid work experiences, improved job coaching, hands on career and college exploration etc.  These are all critical and foundational to the work.  Some of the additional things that I hope to advance in my role in the CEA include:

  • Community-wide forums to re-think the flow of transition to ensure that it is structured to achieve optimal outcomes;
  • Development of a collective value base where there is no question that effective transition is everyone’s responsibility and we all play our part;
  • Additional education to parents and youth – so that they are informed consumers of services;
  • Strategic, useful and developmentally appropriate transition planning efforts within the schools;
  • Creation of college going cultures for young people with disabilities within the middle and high schools—emphasizing that college is an option;
  • Enhanced partnerships with colleges including expansion of onsite summer programs located on college campuses throughout the state; and
  • Strong partnerships with business where they become fully embedded in the transition process.

There is little doubt in my mind that a concerted effort to bolster the quality of transition efforts in our state will result in a change in the trajectory of the lives of young people with developmental/intellectual disabilities.  I look forward to working with you on this important and life changing effort.