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June 2015Vol. 16, No. 5Improving Services for Transitioning Youth With Disabilities

A new publication, The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy, presents a framework developed by Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) Workgroup to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities. In the context of youth development, the term "transition" refers to the period of time in which adolescents are moving into adulthood and are often concerned with planning for postsecondary education, careers, health care, financial self-sufficiency, housing, and living independently. It can be a challenging process for any youth, and particularly so for young people with disabilities. Child welfare professionals working with youth with disabilities may be interested to know that research shows transitioning youth with access to appropriate support services—including community engagement, educational opportunities/vocational training, obtaining employment, finding stable housing, and accessing health care—achieve better outcomes.

FPT was created in 2005 to improve interagency coordination across the disability-related and general service systems with the aim of enhancing youths' access to needed services. The workgroup includes representatives of several Federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration.

The goal of the plan is to improve outcomes by 2020 by enhancing interagency coordination, developing compatible goals between agencies, and helping agencies approach transition in a more integrated way. The FPT interagency strategy is based on the following two assumptions:

  • Each of the Federal agencies and their respective programs contribute to positive transition outcomes in different ways within the context of their own unique programs' missions and statutory mandates. Although the agencies differ in terms of approach and terminology, targeted populations, and even the "way of doing business," much of the work is, in fact, complementary.
  • Each agency, within the bounds of statutory authority, will continue to collaborate, coordinate, and contribute collectively to meeting the compatible outcome goals, and each is committed and accountable to meet one or more goals. Most of these goals apply across youth transition programs and policies, regardless of systems.

The components of the plan include a discussion of the positive impact of cross-systems coordination on youths' outcomes, examples of current Federal cross-systems initiatives that support the FPT compatible outcome goals, and policy priorities that will inform FPT's work going forward.

The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy is available at (315 KB).