As a child enters their teen years, not only is their body changing, but also their need to become more in charge of their services. It is important for families, teachers and professionals to help the youth acquire self-advocacy skills and also plan for post-high school. The goals and the overall plan should be identified in the youth’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) by at latest age 16 (sooner can be better) and should focus on the wants, desires and abilities of the youth. The youth should be involved in this process, even leading it if possible. Additionally, there are other agencies that should be involved. These include vocational rehabilitation specialists and services coordinators with the Nebraska Division of Developmental Disabilities, as examples. Every youth with a disability has unique needs and both the IEP and the employment plan needs to be individualized. In Nebraska, the young adult will become eligible for Medicaid at age 19 if he or she wasn’t before. Families also should consider whether guardianship in its various forms is necessary and consider all of the options besides full guardianship. Below are resources that should be considered to help the youth transition to adulthood.
Having a plan for the transition into adult services should start long before high school. It’s important to start having conversations with the youth early about his or her wants, dreams and desires. This provides an overview of youth transition.
- Focus by Grade: provides a guide of activities that should be considered at each year.
- IEP Requirements for Post-Secondary Goals (starting at age 16): provides a list of school’s requirements to assist the youth with a disability to transition to adult services. Specific components are required within the youth’s IEP starting at age 16.
This federal and state-financed agency helps people with disabilities obtain employment and skills for employment. It has a specific focus on helping youth with disabilities transition from high school.
American Job Center: Heartland Workforce Solutions
Offers job training and support to individuals seeking employment.
Centers for Independent Living
Centers for Independent Living (CILS) are federally funded to help people with disabilities access services to achieve independent living. One of their core services is helping youth with disabilities transition from high school. There are three centers in Nebraska:
- The League of Human Dignity Chad Chapman, Transition Coordinator, 402-441-7871 ext 1125
- Independence Rising
- Panhandle Independent Living Services
Driver Evaluation and Training
There are organizations that can assess if a young adult has the skills necessary to drive and also to help make modifications so the youth can drive. Here are some:
Guardianship might be considered when an individual is unable to make responsible decisions about their finances, property, living situations or care. In these situations, the individual may have a guardian or conservator appointed by the courts. Court-appointed guardians/conservators manage the personal and/or financial affairs of vulnerable persons who need assistance in making legal decisions and staying safe.
- Guardianship and Conservatorship This explains the difference between being a guardian and a conservator.
- Alternatives to full guardianship When a guardian is appointed, the ward loses independence and autonomy, as well as the power to exercise many legal rights. Families, friends and advocates considering guardianship should first review other options. Those options include providing guidance or acting as an advocate. Only when a person is truly unable to make or communicate decisions should guardianship be considered. Some alternatives to guardianship include:
- a conservator;
- a trust;
- representative payee;
- durable power of attorney; and
- durable medical power of attorney.
- Nebraska Youth Leadership Council supports young leaders from across the entire state of Nebraska who want to make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities. This council is composed of youth with disabilities and is supported by Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation. For more information contact Elizabeth Paesl at 402-670-1437.
- Special Education and Accommodations in School is a resource that provides an overview of special education, including general information, family rights and a list of advocacy and legal organizations available.
- Health Programs provide an overview of programs available to help individuals and families pay for medical services and supplies. (Please note that when an individual reaches the age of majority [age 19 in Nebraska] they often become eligible for Medicaid because their parents’ income is no longer figured into eligibility).
- Financial Assistance Programs provide an overview of state programs available to help individuals and families with low incomes pay for basic needs such as food, housing and utilities. It can also assist with disability-related expenses.
- Nebraska’s Home and Community Based Medicaid Waivers Programs provide and list information about Nebraska’s home and community based Medicaid waivers, residential services and lists developmental disability provider agencies located across the state.
Sometimes people with disabilities are concerned that as they gain employment or increase either their wages or hours, they might lose eligibility for programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In Nebraska, there are programs and counselors who can assist individuals and families. These include: