The Massachusetts Transition Initiative is a five-year, federally funded
systems change grant that began in October 1992. The grant is a collaborative
effort of the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Massachusetts
Rehabilitation Commission, the Department of Employment and Training, the
Department of Mental Retardation, and the Institute for Community Inclusion
(UAP) at Children's Hospital. The collaborating agencies made a commitment
to helping students with disabilities in their transition to the community
through changes from "the top" as well as through assisting school districts
to access resources to implement effective transition planning for students
with disabilities from school to the adult world.
The vision of the project is that all students with disabilities in
Massachusetts will become the center of, and actively involved in, planning
for their own transition from school to adult life. Ideally, all of those
students and their families would become involved in planning early enough
(between ages 14 and 16) to develop the options and supports needed to
achieve the lifestyle and goals that they desire for themselves.
The MTI is building a cooperative system at the local, regional, and state levels. Because many people who are not a part of any state agency are involved in transition issues, students with disabilities, the families of those students, school personnel, and all interested community members including professionals from local and regional agency offices have been invited to participate in supporting students with disabilities in transition.
Each of the state's 300 high schools has the opportunity to apply for funding to create a local transition planning committee (TPC), which receives training on committee building, person centered planning, transition planning and the IEP process, resource sharing, and data collection. The TPCs generally consist of local school professionals, parents, and other interested community members (e.g., businesses, local human service agencies). They serve as a resource to the IEP TEAM in identifying resources and in problem solving.
To facilitate linkages with other agencies, post-secondary institutions,
and employment sites, and to enhance the access to resources, the MTI established
five Regional Training and Technical Assistance Teams (RTTATs), which consist
of state agency staff (regionally based), school, family and student representatives,
and community/business members. The RTTATs provide additional training
and support to the TPCs based upon nationally recognized models of best
practices. In addition, through a number of activities such as its Interagency
Agreement with the Department of Mental Retardation, its joint Youth with
Disabilities Grant Program with the Department of Employment and Training,
and its coordinated development of an electronic bulletin board with the
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, the MTI is expanding youth with
disabilities' access to educational and employment opportunities and to
learning and utilizing adult living skills.