Transitioning from a student to adulthood is challenging for everyone, especially for those youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Now, there’s hope for an easier transition.
The Institute for Human Development (IHD) at Northern Arizona University was recently awarded a one-year, $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Disabilities to develop a comprehensive, integrated pilot plan to help youth with I/DD transition to employment or postsecondary education in the state of Arizona.
Currently, numerous organizations already are working to assist these youth. This grant will allow IHD to bring these diverse stakeholders together and form the Arizona Coalition for Transition Success (AzCTS)—a coalition to collaboratively develop a seamless, integrated transition success plan that will support better outcomes for employment and postsecondary education.
NAU’s IHD is part of a nationwide network of designated University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). For this project, IHD is collaborating with a variety of community partners including the Sonoran UCEDD at the University of Arizona, The Arc of Arizona and IHD’s Consumer Advisory Council to form AzCTS.
“The Sonoran UCEDD, our counterpart organization in Tucson, has laid a strong foundation regarding transition and employment,” said IHD associate director Jill Pleasant. “We are thrilled to collaborate to really move the needle for improving transition outcomes in Arizona.”
The group will perform a comprehensive review and analysis of the current transition landscape in Arizona and identify effective practices and supports leading to the development of a “no wrong door” approach to assist young adults with disabilities. The approach is designed to ensure that consistent information about transition processes, services and supports is available to youth with disabilities, families and providers across public and private agencies in Arizona.
“Our state’s transition leaders know that better transition outcomes for persons with I/DD—folks integrated into their communities, exercising personal choices and using systemic supports to access employment and postsecondary education—benefit everyone in the state,” Pleasant said. “This grant will allow us to help those in need of some assistance.”
Institute leaders hope this grant will allow them to provide a comprehensive transition plan that empowers youth and young adults with disabilities to make informed decisions and exercise control over their transition from students to adults, in order to achieve their personal goals.