The Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, or Summit DD, has partnered with Woodridge and Copley-Fairlawn schools to launch a Transition Services for Youth pilot program. The initiative is being funded by local tax dollars that were set aside by Summit DD in 2017 to specifically create and foster innovative programs.
The Transition Services for Youth pilot program will help young adults with developmental disabilities prepare for the professional world once they graduate. Students from the ages of 14 to 22 will be able to take advantage of community-based career exploration activities, to include: workplace tours, volunteer opportunities, internships, job coaching and more, all in tandem with their regular academic activities.
“Summit DD is very excited to be able to partner with these organizations and pilot this program. Engaging students and families early with supports that prepare students for employment is critical to post school success. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with students, families and everyone involved to make this pilot program a success,” shared Drew Williams, Summit DD Director of Community Supports and Development.
Summit DD, parents and school officials from Woodridge and Copley-Fairlawn came together at the end of 2016 to seek out and select skilled local private providers for these unique services. After a detailed interview process, Koinonia Homes was selected for Woodridge and United Disability Services (UDS) for Copley/Fairlawn.
“I have seen the focus of education, especially for students with special needs, shift to outcomes after graduation. This partnership will allow our students to be provided with a wealth of opportunities beginning at age 14 designed to maximize their independence and self-sufficiency in the community,” shared Heather Doyle, Director of Pupil Services at Copley-Fairlawn City Schools.
“I am so grateful that Summit DD is willing to partner with the Woodridge Local School District to provide this opportunity for students. Our middle and high school students with disabilities will be able to have access to a number of different areas of transition such as: the Summit DD Discovery process, career exploration, and local authentic work experiences. These will all be outstanding opportunities for our students to learn the skills they need to be successful in employment,” commented Valerie Riedthaler, Director of Pupil Services at Woodridge Local School District.
The Transition Services for Youth pilot program is currently scheduled to run until the end of 2018. Throughout the pilot, Summit DD Service and Support Administrators (SSAs) and Navigators will help guide students through a detailed discovery process to determine their individual goals. This person-centered process will help the providers determine a path for their services. Summit DD will also help foster the relationship between the school districts and the providers. They’ll monitor the quality of service and provide best practice training when necessary.
In the future, it is Summit DD’s goal to build and maintain this program throughout the entire county. By fostering individualized goals for these students and ensuring quality services that meet their needs, Summit DD and the school districts will make the community a stronger and more inclusive place.