The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice


The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice


As students with disabilities leave a correctional facility, they not only need support to help them make the transition to post-school activities, they also need support to keep them from returning to incarceration. These represent the different definitions associated with the term transition for youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. On the one hand, transition refers to the coordinated set of activities that are designed to promote movement from school to post-school activities for a student with a disability. The term transition also refers to the passage of a student from the community (home, school, or work) to a correctional setting (jail, detention center, residential treatment facility, or long-term juvenile correctional facility) and back to the community again. In addition, it can refer to the passage of a student from one correctional setting to another.

When developing transition plans for students with disabilities in the juvenile justice system, we must consider the additional services and skills needed to be successful in the community. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition is defined as a coordinated set of activities for a student, designed as outcome oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities. These post-school activities include: post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, continuing education, adult services, and independent living or community participation. These activities must be based upon the individual student’s needs, preferences, and interests and include instruction, community experiences, post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills.

Although many of the requirements may be the same, transition from a correctional facility to the community needs to include additional supports. A transition plan for an incarcerated youth should include all of the IDEA requirements along with these additional supports which are designed to facilitate the youth’s transition back into the community.

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