KAYSVILLE—The transition between childhood and adulthood for students with disabilities can be daunting. Davis School District is trying to bridge that gap by connecting parents and students with services that can help ease the adjustment.
Last week the district hosted, “Transition Possible,” an annual open house to bring agencies and school program coordinators together to answer questions and make the community aware of what’s available. It was held at Davis Applied Technology College (DATC).
“This is for students with IEP or 504 status as a way to help students and parents understand what is available to them after high school,” said Melanie Allen, a teacher at Syracuse High School. “Some go to school until they’re 22 years old so we want to be able to connect them to the services we provide.”
The process of what comes next is very overwhelming, Allen said. “So we try to help. On average we have about 50 agencies and service providers that range from helping students with mild to moderate disabilities to severe. Around 400 or more students and parents come for the evening.”
The program originally started at Syracuse High School. “It was really small,” said Kathy Chisholm director of Special Education for the district. “Then over the last eight or nine years it kept growing. We used to have it rotate around to different high schools but then we decided DATC is a post secondary education facility and that made a nice blend.”
Chisholm said they have attendees fill out a survey after the open house to find out any suggestions they might have. “We want to know if they learned something new or found out about an agency that works with disabled kids,” she said. “These are not just government agencies but also places that work with kids in the summer and after school. Some of the same ones (vendors) come every year but we also have a mix of new ones.”
Cindy and her son Jared have been to the open house in the past and found it useful. “We’re trying to find work as my son transitions into the real world,” said Cindy. “He’s a sophomore at Syracuse High. We’re just looking to the future.”
Travis Taylor works with vocational rehabilitation (VR) and helps students like Jared. “We help them find jobs and minimize their needs,” Taylor said as he stood at one of the tables. “I’m a transition counselor and I help them as they transition into adulthood. I work with high school students and those who are just out of high school.”
Kristen Bright is a parent and also works as an office assistant with the district in special education. Bright helped organize the event and brought along her son Jackson Whitear who has special needs.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to come out and learn about transitioning,” said Bright. “As a parent there’s a lot of fear attached to that.”
That fear is what drives the district to assist students and their families. “We invite fifth grade and up to give them time to prepare,” said Chisholm. “It takes a lot of coordination to find the right services for your child.”
Farrah Edwards from Utah Work Incentive Planning Service was there to assist attendees with how disability affects Social Security and the potential to work. “People can work if they’re able to,” said Edwards. “We make sure people can really go to work and not be trapped in poverty. We have people working out of wheelchairs or homes, some with support and some with very little. We want to help them find out how to move the barriers. We’re all part of the community.”
Resources can be found on the district website, Allen said. “We try to teach students ahead of time to be prepared when they get here,” she said of the open house. “One of the real benefits of the evening is parents and students can get real contact with service providers and ask questions that maybe they are afraid to ask or maybe they just don’t know where to go.”
For more information visit www.davis.k12.ut.us/page/1386.