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Youth in Transition Toolkit:

3

Educate families

Safety

Families often have concerns about their loved one's safety. Help them address these concerns and minimize the risks.

A disability can prompt fear about a person's safety in the community. Families may wonder if their youth will be OK in a work setting, on public transportation or around people who don't know them well. They might feel that their youth must be completely safe and every possible risk should be addressed before they can have the freedom and experiences that other young adults get. But people with disabilities shouldn’t be shielded from every potentially risky decision—instead they should be allowed to try things out, make mistakes, and learn from them. You can help families balance safety concerns so they don't hold the student back from their goals.

Lightbulb LEARN

LEARN: Develop your knowledge

Use person-centered tools to balance safety needs.

Families are protective of their youth. They may need supports and strategies to address their concerns.  

Balancing what's important to someone with what's important for someone is a core person-centered thinking skill. Important to is about what really matters to the person. Important for is about the help or support they need to stay healthy, safe and well.

Review Sorting important to/for from Helen Anderson Associates to help you facilitate meaningful conversations and identify shared solutions.

As you're working with families, identify situations families consider risky and then brainstorm strategies to address the risks.

If a person needs to learn a new skill, for example, break it down into a series of small steps — and make sure the family is comfortable each step of the way. You might say, "OK, now we'd like to work on taking the bus independently from point A to point B. We'll have staff at each end to make sure your student gets where they need to be." 

Tip: Don't proceed with something a family considers risky without their approval. You don't want to be seen as working against their wishes. Instead, work together to proceed in a way that feels comfortable.

Resources DO

DO: Work with families

Enlist the family's help to build skills.

Enlist a family's help to work on new skills and situations. For example, you might ask, "Could you practice packing a healthy lunch at home?" For other ideas, check building responsibility and skills in this toolkit.

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