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Special education services a challenge after high school

For parents of special needs children, finding suitable educational programs through preschool, elementary and high school can be a challenge. According to a recent report, making the transition from high school into college or vocational training can be even more difficult.

In California and nationwide, agencies and programs are designed to help children prepare for the workforce. According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), many of these programs are uncoordinated and unmonitored. Children with special needs and their families may face confusion and hurdles when using federal services intended to help guide them through this transition.

The majority of problems seem to stem from having four uncoordinated federal agencies: The Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration. Many of these students will continue to collect Social Security disability benefits even after they turn 18. The report suggests that the agencies did not have a government-wide strategy to coordinate transition services for students with disabilities.

Through elementary and high school, special education students have individualized programs coordinated and mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act. However, when the program ends, parents are left with the challenge of navigating the transition programs with little guidance.

Advocates for children with disabilities are urging for a solution coordinated by the four agencies and Congress. Lawmakers and officials are seeking to develop more cohesive strategies to ensure that special needs students get the schooling they need.

In addition to pursuing educational and vocational opportunities, students may need support in security Social Security disability. An experienced advocate can help navigate the disability system, including the Social Security Administration application process.

Source: Huffington Post, "Special Education Services After High School Uncoordinated, Unmonitored, GAO Finds," Joy Resmovits, August 7, 2012.

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