Transition (14-21 years)

Special Education
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Support Coordination 

Special Education

Service Rights:

Special Education rights in New Jersey are derived from the federal law known as IDEIA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act). The New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC 6A:14) contains the state’s regulations based upon IDEIA. 

NJAC 6A:14 explains the rights of children determined to be eligible for special education and related services as well as policies and procedures the school districts must adhere to in order to comply with the law. Additionally, it illustrates procedural safeguards in case a school district and parent do not agree on a particular issue. Section 1.3 of the NJAC 6A:14 defines Transition Services as

"a coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation."

A copy of NJAC 6A:14 is available directly from your school district or from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at (609) 292-0147.

Transition IEP: 

Transition services should be a part of the IEP and based on the student’s individual preferences and interests. By age 16, a student’s IEP should include goals and objectives that begin to address a long range plan that emphasizes skills that are needed for adult life. Contact our Helpline for additional assistance with your child's IEP.

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Division of Developmental Disabilities

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) assures the opportunity for individuals with developmental disabilities to receive quality services and supports, participate meaningfully in their communities, and exercise their right to make choices.

At age 18, DDD will assess the individual for eligibility and provide transitional planning assistance. All direct services (residential, in-home, behavioral, family support, etc.) will continue to be provided by DCF until age 21. After age 21, and when the educational entitlement ends, these services may be provided by DDD.

In addition, DDD will offer informational sessions and educational materials on various topics including: 

  • Employment and postsecondary education
  • Benefits/legal/financial issues
  • Housing and residential supports
  • Health/behavioral health
  • DDD adult services
  • Person Centered Planning
  • Transportation

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Division of Vocational Rehabilitative Services

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitative Services (DVRS) is a state agency whose services are typically “short term” in nature. DVRS can provide job training, education, job placement and workshop services for adults with disabilities. Additionally, DVRS can consult with school districts about providing services--such as job coaching--and then can remove themselves once the training is completed. DVRS can also perform, or make a referral to someone who can perform, a vocational assessment.

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Support Coordination

Support Coordination is a Medicaid-funded service offered by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). In order to be eligible for Support Coordination Services, individuals must meet the following criteria: a resident of New Jersey age 21 or older, eligible for DDD and Medicaid, living in their own home or with family, and not receiving services through the Community Care Program (CCP), formerly Community Care Waiver (CCW).

Support Coordination uses a person-centered team approach to assist participants with planning and budgeting and connect them to resources, services, and supports such as behavioral management, community-based supports, financial management, habilitative services, respite, and more. The goal is to create an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) that meet the needs of the participant and is centered on their personal goals, abilities, and needs.

Individuals (and when applicable, their guardians) work with Support Coordination Agencies qualified by DDD. Participants have the opportunity to choose the agency they prefer. If an agency is not chosen by the family, one will automatically be assigned by DDD.

Through the Support Coordination Agency, participants work one-on-one with a Support Coordinator. The Support Coordinator is responsible for developing and maintaining the ISP and linking the participant to programs and services that match their needs and desired outcomes. Participants are included in the planning process and have the flexibility to choose the options and services that will best meet their needs. The Support Coordinator works with the participant, their family, and other team members designated by the participant, such as family members and friends.

Once assigned, the Support Coordinator has 30 days to obtain approval of a service plan. The Support Coordinator is also responsible for conducting ongoing monitoring of the services specified in the ISP. DDD staff must approve all ISPs and act in an ongoing quality assurance role. Families of individuals transitioning out of school and into adult services may invite their Support Coordinator to attend the exit IEP meeting.

Families are encouraged to take the time to learn about the prospective Support Coordination Agencies before making a selection. Considerations include the agency’s familiarity with local community and supports and a comparison of the individual’s wants and needs to the services and expertise offered at each agency. Families can also arrange "meet and greets" to interview prospective agencies.

Additional resources:

Exploring the range of services available and developing a successful ISP requires effective communication and patience. There may be times when there is disagreement about the level of support or types of services that are needed. Establishing a collaborative relationship between the individual, involved family members, and the support coordinator can facilitate the process and lead to creative solutions.

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The Path to Services

In this section, we've outlined the four general steps along the path to receiving services from DDD.  Click on the links below to learn more.

Eligibility Assessment Planning Services

Step 1
Are you eligible?

Step 2:
Identify your needs.
Step 3:
Make a plan.
Step 4:
Connect to services.

Transition Publications

Planning the Transition From School to Adult Life: Considerations for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Planning the Transition From School to Adult Life
Download for free>>
Transition Research
AJ Drexel Autism Institute

The National Autism Indicators Report
is a publication series produced by the AJ Drexel Autism Institute's Life Course Outcomes Research Program. The 2015 Report provides important findings regarding the transition into young adulthood.

It details and substantiates the many challenges that youth entering adulthood experience, providing some striking statistics. Their 2016 Report focuses on Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Visit the Drexel Website for additional resources and information>>

 GAO Report: Youth with Autism

In 2016, The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, "Youth with Autism:  Roundtable Views of Services Needed During the Transition to Adulthood." Autism New Jersey’s Executive Director, Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, participated in the GAO's Expert Panel in Washington DC, along with other experts from across the country.

Dr. Buchanan's full presentation is available here

UPDATE:  Read the GAO' s 2017 follow up report and recommendations: 
Youth with Autism:  Federal Agencies Should Take Additional Action to Support Transition-Age Youth.

Graduates Aging Out of the School System:

DDD has developed an informational handout for families of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who will exhaust their educational entitlement when they turn 21 years of age during the school year. The Graduates Aging Out of the School System Timeline provides an overview for young adults and their families who wish to pursue Division-funded services after age 21.

Click here for more Hot Topics

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Phone: 609.588.8200; 800.4.AUTISM | Fax: 609.588.8858