SIX best practices create great plans!
1. Person-centered Planning: The philosophy of person centered planning began more than 20 years ago and is a way of listening to and learning from individuals with regards to what they would like to have or see in their lives. O’Brien and Lovett (1992) define person centred planning as a “group of approaches to organizing and guiding community change in alliance with people with disabilities and their families and friends”. Person centered planning is not so much a formal process as it is a way of proceeding and relating with a person. It refers to approaches for empowering persons with disabilities and their families to assume a greater role in the educational programming and planning process.
2. Youth Involvement: the youth with special needs should participate in the planning process. The youth knows himself/herself better than anyone else – including friends and family members. If the youth is at the centre of the transition planning process, parents can help make sure the individualized Transition Plan reflects them and what theywant to achieve in their life.
3. Family Involvement: The family must be supported to participate in the transition planning process as the life of the teen with special needs is closely related to their family! Beside, who knows the teen better than their family – families can contribute valuable information to the planning process.
4. Community Involvement: Teens with special needs should be able to access their community resources provided by community partners geared towards adult supports as well as local recreational and social opportunities available to all community members. Fostering community access allows teens with special needs to become part of something bigger. Community partners should be identified early in the process and a working relationship fostered. Skills required to participate in community opportunities should be also be developed as part of the Transition Plan if needed.
5. Identification and Use of a Transition Coordinator: Identification of a Transition Coordinator is critical. This team member is accountable and responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Transition Plan through the coordination of the team. Transition Coordinators are usually community professionals that are either hired or enrolled to support the team with special needs and his/her family to put the Transition Plan into action. It is critical to have the Transition Coordinator in place prior to beginning the planning process (PATH).
6. Inter-agency Collaboration: Involving your social worker, school, behaviour consultant, and health professionals in the process will strengthen your team and facilitate your teen’s ability to translate his/her dreams into reality. Each professional brings with them their expertise to support the teen’s learning.