New IDD Transition Program Seeks to Bridge Service Gaps
Do you know what foster care and Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) services have in common? Both services drop off once young people reach a certain age. Fortunately, After 22, a new Chicago IDD transition program seeks to bridge the gap. In this post, Direct Care Innovations explains.
The After 22 Project
Although located in Chicago, the After 22 Project is a national initiative to help students with IDD transition from high school to college. The endeavor constitutes a complete transition program connecting participants with postsecondary institutions. Program services include flexible learning options, leadership development, and job skills training. Students also can participate in unique activities, such as summer camps and paid internships.
Project leaders and supporters say it provides students with a social safety net. At the same time, government representatives believe the effort moves Chicago toward its goal to be the most accessible city in the nation.
Daley College provides student support through its Occupational, Life, and Academic Skills programs. For example, the college helps students identify their interests and skills. Then, they work together to craft individualized plans to help them succeed. Before the effort, students often waited nearly seven years after turning 22 to access funding for these types of services.
Start Small, Be Intentional
In its first year, program leaders anticipate educating up to 20 students. In fact, some students may not enroll in any college. Nevertheless, the Daley College and Anixter Center teams collaborate to help students achieve outcomes. Specifically, they will develop bespoke educational plans to enhance communication skills, self-advocacy, and professionalism. Moreover, they provide guidance and support to students navigating institutions.
The tasks described here can feel overwhelming without support in place. However, the program allows students to practically apply what they learn in everyday situations, including the food pantry, professional clothing closet, and other service areas around the Daley campus.
Students Participate and Advocate
According to statements the school released, a board of business executives, students, parents, faculty members, special education experts, and advocates will help shape the program’s development, boost external relationships and funding sources, and advise on curriculum. The curriculum allows City Colleges to achieve one of its primary objectives, which is to provide greater access to education for the public.
Eventually, Daley College will establish a certificate program for persons with disabilities. Participants who complete the internship or work placement will be matched with a community employer who will provide support to ensure their success and retention. The purpose is to weave together public and private partnerships so students can have a meaningful experience.
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