The Institute for Human Development (IHD) at Northern Arizona University was recently awarded a one-year, $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Disabilities to develop a comprehensive, integrated pilot plan for transitioning youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) to employment and/or postsecondary education in the state of Arizona.
Transitioning from a student to adult life is always challenging, and this is especially true for youth and young adults with I/DD. In Arizona, there are numerous organizations currently working to facilitate transition for youth with I/DD. For this grant, IHD will bring these diverse stakeholders together and form a coalition, called Arizona Coalition for Transition Success (AzCTS), to collaboratively develop a seamless, integrated Transition Success Plan that will support better outcomes for employment and postsecondary education. IHD envisions a comprehensive transition plan—by and for Arizonans—that empowers youth and young adults with disabilities to make informed decisions and, importantly, to exercise control over their transition from students to adults, in order to achieve their personal goals and preferences.
NAU’s Institute for Human Development is part of a nationwide network of designated University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). For this project, IHD is collaborating with Arizona’s other UCEDD, the Sonoran UCEDD at the University of Arizona, as well as The Arc of Arizona, IHD’s Consumer Advisory Council and other community partners to form AzCTS. The group will perform a comprehensive review and analysis of the current transition landscape in Arizona and identify effective practices and supports leading to the development of a “no wrong door” approach to successful transition pathways for young adults with disabilities. The “no wrong door” approach is designed to ensure that consistent information about transition processes, services and supports is available to youth with disabilities, families and providers across public and private agencies in Arizona.
IHD Associate Director Jill Pleasant explains, “The Sonoran UCEDD, our counterpart organization in Tucson, has laid a strong foundation regarding transition and employment. We are thrilled to collaborate to really move the needle for improving transition outcomes in Arizona. Our state’s transition leaders know that better transition outcomes for persons with I/DD—folks integrated into their communities, exercising personal choices and using systemic supports to access employment and postsecondary education— benefits everyone in the state.”