In Nebraska, students can receive special-education services until age 21, but the process of planning for transition starts long before that. Here are five things to do to help you prepare for your child's transition to adulthood in Nebraska and make sure there's something waiting after school is done.
1. Start thinking about what your child will need to get ready for life after school. Helpful resources include "Transition to Adulthood Timeline: Specifically for Nebraskans" on the Answers4Families site, "Opening Doors: A Transition Guide" and "Setting Goals ... Achieving Results" from the Nebraska Department of Education, and "￼It's All About Choice: Service Options for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities" from the Ready-Set-Go site.
2. Expect transition planning to be a part of your child's IEP by his or her sixteenth birthday if not before. Your child should be involved in IEP meetings at this point if at all possible, even if it's a brief appearance to talk about work or post-high-school educational goals. Unlike many other states, Nebraska does not transfer rights to the student at the age of majority (19 in Nebraska), so you will continue to be a member of your child's IEP team and an important part of the process.
3. Work with your child's IEP team and the school's transition coordinator to determine whether your student should graduate with his or her age peers or stay in school additional years or all the way until eligibility ends at age 22. Be sure to ask what sorts of work programs are available, what your child would be doing in the classroom with those extra years, and what your child's options will be after leaving school.
4. Investigate state organizations that can help your child transition to work and independent living when school is over. These may include the Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Department of Education Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Nebraska Client Assistance Program.
5. Contact PTI Nebraska, a parent advocacy organization that offers support and services for families of children with special needs, for advice on helping your child through this transition. The Ready-Set-Go site also has a number of resources for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their parents to get you thinking constructively about your young person's future.