Collaboration among agencies is necessary for students and youth who are touched by many systems and professionals. When collaboration is directly focused on outcomes for youth, such as integrated paid employment, and the systems that serve them – rather than merely making a hand-off to the next responsible organization – higher rates of employment are more likely. Conversely, without a focus on developing collaborative relationships efforts falter.
Collaboration between schools, vocational rehabilitation (VR), and other partners is effective when there is a clear and compelling rationale for staff to work across agency lines (Fabian, in press). Collaboration is structured around formalized relationships and processes that maximize the expertise and perspectives of students, parents, educators, VR counselors, and other partners involved in the transition process. The relationships and processes should promote individualized student services, supports, and activities and roles, and identify responsibilities of each partner designed and focused on providing the identified needs and supports. The most effective teams work to achieve a direct outcome for youth served, rather than simply coordinate a “hand off” to the next available post-secondary service (Simonsen, Fabian, & Luecking, in press).Read less >
It has long been held that collaboration among professionals and service systems is an important component of effective initiatives and services that support the transition of youth with disabilities from school to work and adult life (Wehman, 2013). In fact, without clearly identified roles of, and coordination between, involved parties to this transition, there are potential problems at two levels: 1) individual and 2) partner.
To put it another way, beneficial outcomes both at the individual youth level and at the larger systems level can best be achieved through the coordinated application of resources and effort. The Center found that interagency collaboration is not a straightforward concept, but that different ways of defining and operationalizing it impacts employment outcomes in transition. For example:
It is optimal for professionals to work collaboratively when they are providing transition-related services to youth with disabilities through an Interagency team. Effective collaboration begins when all stakeholders involved are identified and begin to work on a common goal for the student transitioning to employment. Through thoughtful and committed partners, significant opportunities can be created so the student is able to gain work experience and paid employment prior to their school exit. Effective collaboration focuses on building a system that facilitates an increase in the employment outcomes of transition-age youth.
It is logical for school systems or Vocational Rehabilitation to take on a leadership role in convening the partners. When considering which partners need to be involved, the team should consider identifying critical partners to assist secondary students with career development planning, work experiences, and paid employment. Potential partners to consider include, but are not limited to: vocational rehabilitation, youth development programs, workforce development, employers, parents and adult service providers that offer job development, placement, and support services. For a list of potential partners and their roles and responsibilities see Tool Section: Partner Roles and Responsibilities.
The entity identified to lead the Interagency team is responsible for convening the partners, establishing the meeting structure, facilitating the meeting, and serving as the primary communicator among all partners. All members of the team should feel a sense of ownership and commitment in order to implement the action plan and achieving the goal of integrated employment. To achieve this intent, the team should:
Team members may not understand the roles of adult service agencies and how they connect to transition planning for students.
Adult service agencies and schools have difficulty engaging family members in the transition planning process.
Team members indicate they have little time for planning and are susceptible to lost momentum.
Simonsen, M., & Fabian, E. (in press). Employers’ preferences in hiring youth with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation.
Wehman, P. & Scott, L. (2013). Applications for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities. In P.Wehman (Ed.), Life Beyond the Classroom: Transition Strategies for Young People with Disabilities. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing.Read less >