What can school personnel do to help students in the transition planning process?
Page 7: Family Engagement
Family engagement, another component of the taxonomy, refers to a family’s efforts at helping their child plan for the future and in supporting him or her during the transition process. Other than the students themselves, parents are often the only people who remain part of the transition planning process and their child’s IEP team throughout the school years. Because transition planning includes areas other than academics—for example, planning for healthcare needs or living arrangements—parents often serve as the bridge between school and community involvement for their child. As such, educators should ensure that families are active participants and that their input is valued.
Paula Kohler discusses the contributions that families can make to the transition planning process (time: 1:22).
Paula Kohler, PhD
Director, Career Connections Research Center
Western Michigan University
Although parents can serve as a bridge between the school and the community, they are often not actively involved in the transition process. There are many reasons for this. They might have had a negative experience with the school at some point in the past. Or their opportunities to collaborate with school personnel might be limited for one reason or another. Or there might be differences between what families and schools consider important for a given student. Additionally, families of culturally and linguistically diverse students frequently have difficulty participating in the transition planning process. To help families be more engaged, school personnel should:
- Schedule meetings at times when parents are available
- Provide families with information about transition planning in their home language
- Educate parents about how post-school activities, such as obtaining a job, can affect the student’s quality of life
- Value family input:
- Invite parents to provide information about their child’s strengths, post-secondary interests (e.g., career, education, living), and areas of need
- Brainstorm and collaborate about the transition plan rather than dictating it
- Listen and make sure the transition plan reflects the preferences of the student and the family
- Ask parents to identify potential supports (e.g., church, neighbors, community) for their child
- Encourage parents and family members to participate in transition planning outside of school by recommending they:
- Help their child understand his or her disability and disability related needs, including how to ask for help when needed
- Promote their child’s independence outside of school by encouraging him or her to be more involved in making decisions and by assuming more responsibilities
- Visit agencies that might offer services or supports for post-secondary planning and transition (e.g., vocational rehabilitation, Social Security Disability Office, transit accessibility)
For Your Information
- Parents often report that their participation in transition meetings is improved or enhanced when they have a strong personal relationship within the educational environment, such as with a teacher with whom they feel connected.
- Although school personnel should encourage family engagement in the transition planning process, they should keep in mind that students should be assuming more responsibilities and making more decisions regarding their future. Click here to learn about rules related to the age of majority for students with disabilities.