Transitioning from school to adult life is a challenging time for every young person, but it can be especially trying for youth with special needs. Fortunately, there are a number of resources in Pennsylvania to help you during this process.
Your Child’s IEP Should Include Supports and Services for Transition.
Check out our prior blog post about what types of transition services your child can access through her IEP here.
Pennsylvania Secondary Transition Guide Website.
This website provides information on a variety of resources for transition-age individuals in Pennsylvania and their families. Topics include: health, self-determination, employment, agencies & supports, recreation & leisure, community living, school, and more. Explore http://www.secondarytransition.org/ for helpful transition resources and information.
Pennsylvania Local Transition Coordinating Councils (LTCCs).
LTCCs are made up of students, family members, educators, government officials, and other people interested in improving post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. There are over 70 LTCCs across the state of Pennsylvania, and every LTCC is run differently – some focus on resource identification, others on research or on hosting events. However, no matter how an LTCC is run, it is sure to be a valuable resource for families looking to connect with their local transition community. A list of LTCCs can be found here.
Support for Transitioning from a Pediatrician to an Adult Doctor.
Many youths with special healthcare needs find the transition from their pediatrician to an adult primary care provider to be difficult. Often these youth have a special connection with their pediatrician, and have been in their care as long as they can remember. Moreover, the transition can seem abrupt, even rushed. Below are a few supports that can ease the difficulty of this change.
Operations Memo for Medicaid Recipients.
To address the issue of medical transition, the state of Pennsylvania issued the OPs Memo (short for Operations Memorandum). The OPs Memo requires all Medicaid providers to allow a child who is determined to be “medically fragile” to meet with an adult provider while still seeing their pediatrician. The Memo requires significant overlap between the child’s pediatrician and the new primary care provider to ensure a good fit with the new doctor, and collaboration between medical professionals. Hence, if your child is: (a) still seeing a pediatrician when they are 18 years or older; (b) covered under PA Managed Medicaid insurance; and (c) identified as “medically fragile” by their Medicaid provider, your child has the right to a thorough, thoughtfully planned transition to an adult doctor. For more information on the OPs Memo, click here.
Pennsylvania Medical Home Initiative – Transition Program.
A “Medical Home” is a team-based, comprehensive, and continuous mode of healthcare delivery wherein a team of healthcare providers, as well as family and community members join together to coordinate healthcare services and improve outcomes. In addition to promoting and advancing a Medical Home model for delivery of healthcare services, the Pennsylvania Medical Home Initiative includes a transition program. The transition program focuses on helping pediatric and adult primary care providers develop skills and implement policies to make it easier for Youth with Special Health Care Needs (YSHCN) and their families to make the transition from pediatric primary care to adult-based primary care. Click here to download a spreadsheet of doctors who participate in the transition program. The Medical Home Initiative has also compiled a transition resource list for the various regions of Pennsylvania. Click here to download it.
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
VR provides individualized services to help people with disabilities find and maintain work. VR is a great resource for transition-age youth, as referrals for services can be made up to two years before graduation. VR can provide job placement referrals, reimburse employers for time spent training VR program participants, and provide a job coach to accompany a new worker on the job so employer resources are not being used. For more information, click here. The VR office directory is available here, and can help you locate your area office.
Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network Secondary Transition Toolkit.
The Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network is a group of young adults with disabilities who work together to help other youths thrive. The group compiled a “Secondary Transition Toolkit” for youths and their families to assist during the transition to adulthood. The toolkit is available here.
Transition-Age Youth County Resource Guide.
The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services maintains a county-by-county spreadsheet outlining available services to support transition-age youth and their families. The spreadsheet includes information on general services, case management, housing resources, peer mentoring resources, and more. To download the spreadsheet, go here and click on “Transition-Age Youth County Resource Guide.”
The Special Kids Network.
The Special Kids Network helps children with special healthcare needs and their families get the services and support they need in order to thrive. This Network can aid parents in resource identification and navigation during their child’s transition to adulthood. Questions can be directed to the toll-free helpline at 1-800-986-4550. Through their partnership with PA Elks Home Service Coordination, the Network can implement service coordination (for example: employment support, navigating healthcare, identifying housing options) at no cost to the family. Click here for more information.
Pennsylvania Department of Health Transition Healthcare Checklist.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health created a comprehensive list of considerations for transition-age youth and their families. You can access it here.