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Youth in Transition Toolkit:


The basics


Explore the state and federal policies that support your work with youth in transition.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that youth with disabilities are granted a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to eligible youth with disabilities. Improving educational results for youth with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Learn more from the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Parent Information and Resources.  

Every Student Succeeds Act
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is designed to close educational achievement gaps and provide all K-12 youth an opportunity for a fair, equitable and high-quality education. Learn more by watching this short video.

Perkins V
Perkins V, or the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, expands opportunities for all youth — especially those from historically underserved groups, such as youth with disabilities. The goal is for youth to explore, choose and follow career and technical education programs of study and career pathways. 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504, which preceded the American Disabilities Act (ADA) by nearly 20 years, protects the rights of people with disabilities. The law states, "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States ... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Learn more about Section 504 from the Center for Parent Information and Resources.

Personal learning plans
Minnesota law requires all youth to have a personal learning plan starting no later than 9th grade. The plan is intended to address academic scheduling, career exploration, career and employment-related skills, community partnerships, college access, all forms of postsecondary training, and experiential learning opportunities.

Individualized Education Programs
Minnesota Statute 125A defines Individualized Education Programs (IEP). As it relates to transition, the IEP statute states, "During grade 9, the program must address the youth's needs for transition from secondary services to postsecondary education and training, employment, community participation, recreation, and leisure and home living. In developing the program, districts must inform parents of the full range of transitional goals and related services that should be considered."  

World's Best Workforce
The World's Best Workforce (WBWF) was developed in 2013 to ensure that school districts and charter schools in Minnesota enhance youth achievement through teaching and learning supports. WBWF requires school boards that govern districts and charter schools to develop comprehensive, long-term strategic plans that ensure: 

  • All children are ready for school
  • All 3rd graders can read at grade level
  • All racial and economic achievement gaps between youth are closed
  • All youth are ready for career and college
  • All youth graduate from high school

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) governs numerous federal workforce development programs available to Minnesotans with disabilities, including Vocational Rehabilitation Services, State Services for the Blind and the WIOA Young Adult Program.

WIOA was signed into law in July 2014, replacing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Under WIOA:

  • American Job Centers and their services will be accessible to people with disabilities
  • Youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain competitive integrated employment
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies will set aside at least 15 percent of funding to provide transition services to youth with disabilities
  • A committee will be formed to advise the Secretary of Labor on strategies to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation programs will engage employers to improve participant employment outcomes
  • Once a year, employers will ask anyone paid less than minimum wage about interest in competitive integrated employment (and offer connections to appropriate job search resources)

Read more about WIOA at the federal level and the state level.

The home and community-based services (HCBS) final rule was issued in 2014 to ensure that people receiving long-term services and supports through HCBS programs under the 1915(c), 1915(i) and 1915(k) Medicaid authorities have full access to the benefits of community living and the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting.

The HCBS final rule makes sure people with disabilities:

  • Know their rights and options, and have enough information to make informed choices
  • Control how, when and where they receive services
  • Participate in the community in ways that are personally meaningful
  • Choose where they live and who they live with
  • Decide if they work and what type of work they do
  • Choose how to spend their time and money

Minnesota submitted a statewide transition plan for federal approval in February 2019. This plan added new services, simplified existing services, revised licensing standards, provided support for service providers to transition to new requirements, and more. All states had until March 2022 to come into compliance with the rule and fulfill their transition plans. Check out the HCBS settings transition plan to see how Minnesota is meeting final rule requirements.

To learn more about the HCBS settings rule, watch this HCBS video (04:49) from the Council on Quality and Leadership, which features people who receive HCBS waivers explaining the benefits of the HCBS settings rule.

Employment First is a movement and framework for change focused on the premise that all people, including people with complex support needs, are capable of competitive integrated employment.

Competitive integrated employment:

  • May be full-time, part-time or self-employment with and without supports
  • Takes place in the competitive labor force
  • Places someone on the payroll of a competitive business or industry
  • Pays at least minimum wage (but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability)

Employment First calls on public entities to work together to prioritize meaningful employment, fair wages and career advancement for people with disabilities — rather than placement in a sheltered workshop or other segregated or noninclusive setting. 

To learn more:

Minnesota's Olmstead Plan ensures people with disabilities in Minnesota have opportunities to live their best lives as full members of their communities. The plan is a set of state-wide goals to ensure that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and enjoy life in the community. Ten state agencies are represented on the Olmstead Subcabinet, which oversees the implementation of the plan.

For details, review the full plan or the plain language version.

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