How can school and agency personnel work together to support smooth transitions for these students?

Page 5: Establishing Interagency Collaboration

adults meeting and reading a paperInteragency collaboration does not happen overnight. It takes time for school personnel to develop a positive constructive working relationship with representatives from those outside agencies who provide services for students and families. There are multiple stages involved in establishing interagency collaboration.

Stage Definition Example
Networking The transition coordinator:

  • Finds and develops contacts with agency personnel
  • Shares information with students and families about what an agency does.
  • Shares general information with agency personnel about students’ needs
A transition coordinator shares information about local vocational rehabilitation (VR) services with a student and his family.
Coordination The transition coordinator:

  • Helps the student and family access necessary community resources
  • Is actively involved in arranging appointments and ensuring that the student receives the intended services
After meeting with a student and his family, the transition coordinator arranges a meeting with the VR representative for their school to discuss the student’s future goals towards employment.
Cooperation The school and agency personnel:

  • Interact on a regular basis, even though this might be short-term
  • Share information and expertise
  • Establish and define their roles, schedule meetings, and identify and work toward shared goals
The transition coordinator works with the VR representative for the school to share the workload related to students preparing for their post-school goals. The transition coordinator helps the students work on their transition portfolios while the VR representative conducts the pre-vocational assessments and interest inventories with students.
Collaboration Teams composed of school personnel and representatives from community agencies:

  • Develop new programs to improve outcomes for students with disabilities
  • Identify needs in their community and create solutions to meet these needs
The state education agency and the state VR agency develop a program that allows shared funding for transition services. As a result, several VR personnel are housed locally in the high schools to provide direct transition services.

school personnel meeting at tableAt any given time, schools and agencies can be in various stages of interagency collaboration based on the needs of the students and the capacity of the community. They might be in a networking stage with one agency while having a stronger cooperative working relationship with another. Factors such as funding and staff supports, especially when shared, serve to strengthen collaborative efforts. Jointly funded programs or those in which staff work across agencies epitomize true interagency collaboration. These programs and services require teams to move beyond relationship-building and resource-sharing to work together to create new opportunities for youth with disabilities. Regardless of the type of working relationship they have, it is important that school representatives have a process in place for communicating with agency representatives, especially those that may be supporting the student or paying for post-school services.

Mary Morningstar

Listen as Mary Morningstar talks about the stages of interagency collaboration in greater detail and provides examples (time: 5:38).

View Transcript

Mary Morningstar, PhD
Associate Professor Special Education
Director of Transition Coalition
University of Kansas

For Your Information

One checklist commonly used by educational personnel to establish high-quality interagency collaboration is the Characteristics of Interagency Collaboration Assessment.

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