It's time to reframe how we view family engagement, making sure it's aligned with current transition thinking and practice.
The idea of transition has changed significantly over the past 40 years. We've moved from a simple focus on employment, postsecondary education and independent living to a broader perspective — helping youth and their families identify what a good life looks like and how to get there. Our expectations around employment have been raised and we're more aware of the impact of our messaging on families.
Traditional parent engagement efforts tend to focus on providing information on programs and services and their eligibility requirements. We've learned it should be about helping them envision what a good life looks like for their youth and taking steps to get there. For families and caregivers, this includes helping youth make decisions as well as preparing for life and work skills.
Old ideas vs. new perspectives
Open each accordion below to discover how thinking about these ideas has changed.
New perspective: Families can create high expectations and begin to encourage goal setting during the early childhood years. Starting early makes the transition process easier.
New perspective: Nobody knows a youth better than the youth and their families. Families play a valued and essential role in making sure transition plans reflect a youth's interests and future goals.
New perspective: Failure is an option that provides opportunities to learn and grow. Youth shouldn't be restricted by what other people think they'll be able to do. Allow the dignity of risk.
New perspective: Families should be given information on alternatives to guardianship (like supported decision making) so the youth's individual rights are maintained whenever possible.
New perspective: Families need to plan creative ways to support the life their loved one wants to live. To build an inclusive life, it's important to look beyond formal supports and leverage informal supports, such as community relationships and technology.