Rae Roebuck and Judy Coultes-MacLeod
First Leadership Limited
1: UNDERSTANDING TRANSITIONS
THE STEPS IN TRANSITION PLANNING
section suggests a series of steps to follow in getting the
planning process started. The steps include the following:
Step 1: Create a Vision and Build the Profile;
Step 2: Build the Team;
Step 3: Set Goals;
Step 4: Action Plan; and
Step 5: Updating the Plan.
number of steps are outlined below to help you get started on
your planning. The steps are sequentially numbered but since
it is your plan, you can carry them out in any order that makes
the most sense to you. For example, you may want to build your
transition team first and then have the team help develop the
worksheets identified in each of the following steps have been
adapted (with permission) from materials developed in British
Columbia by the Ministry of Children and Family Development
“Your Future Now. A Transition Planning & Resource
Guide for Youth with Special Needs and Their Families”.
They are intended to guide you through the development of your
transition plan. Use the worksheets, reuse them, modify them
– they are meant to provide you with examples of the type
that may be helpful to you as you identify your specific path
to the future.
you do not find these exercises suit your needs, there are other
examples of transition planning guides identified in Part 2
under Transition Resources. Take a look at these other on-line
guides and find one that is a good fit for you and your child.
The important thing is that you do get started, and not necessarily
which tool is used.
beginning the worksheets, encourage your child to be involved
in completing the exercises to the best of their ability. Support
them and have them seek assistance from you, their friends or
other family members.
The more involved your child is the more likely the plan will
reflect their interests and preferences. Having helped in making
these decisions will give them a sense of accomplishment and
confidence as they take a step towards a life of more independence
as an adult.
Step 1: Create a Vision and Build
the profile is about gathering information on your child, your
family and your family situation. You will need to share this
information with the transition planning team since not everyone
will be as familiar with your circumstances as you are. This
will help the team in making the right decisions throughout
the transition planning process.
first exercise is about creating a vision for your child. This
is an exercise that you may revisit several times as your child
grows and their preferences and interests change as they experience
new and different things.
5 in Part 2: Tools & Resources provides a set
of vision developing questions that can be used at age nine
and repeated as your child goes through the adolescent years.
’’ONE PARENT’S ADVICE… ON A VISION
“Develop a vision for the future for your child. Make
it your own vision and do not be limited by what others may
say or what you think you may get. Draw support for your vision
from every possible direction around you. Don’t be afraid
to call upon others for help and input. Secure the support you
need for an ordinary life for your child. And remember to get
a network for yourself as a parent - this is a difficult journey.”
should consider developing a vision as early as possible. This
vision, when broken down into yearly goals, becomes very helpful
in developing the transition plan. Establishing a vision is
a great opportunity to set expectations for your child –
realistic expectations based on their strengths, interests and
vision exercise is meant to find out what your child is interested
in, where their strengths and abilities lie and what they want
to do in the future. This exercise should clearly outline what
your child can do, what they are good at doing and what they
like doing. Taking this approach can help make the experience
more positive and will likely result in having your child perceived
more positively as well.
FROM A PARENT ’’
“When my daughter was a very young child we were focussed
on her problems and looking for the right “fixes”.
We tried to get her into a specialized school and she was not
accepted. In retrospect, this was the best thing that ever happened
since it started us down a path of inclusion.”
early experience and others that followed really helped shape
a change in this family’s philosophy. Instead of continuing
to see problems and looking for fixes, they began to see gifts,
what their daughter could bring to others and looked for ways
to include her in all activities. This is not to say that your
child’s challenges should be ignored – they should
just not be the focus of the plan nor the basis of its development.
Rather, they can be incorporated into expectations or identified
as the needs to be supported throughout the transition period.
information on MAPS and PATH can be accessed at www.inclusion.com
The vision information can be accessed at www.pdd.org/docs/cent/PCP_811_Jan19.pdf.
Further details on this and other tools available from the Central
Alberta Community Board can be found in Part 2: Tools &
Resources under Person-Centred Planning.
establishing a vision for your child, there are other tools
that can be helpful as well. Both the MAPS and PATH activities
are useful to identify the unique preferences, experiences,
skills and support needs of your child. The Central Alberta
Community Board tools may also be helpful in identifying a vision
and building a profile of your child. Next, you will develop
your child’s profile which builds on the information identified
in the vision. The list below identifies the type of information
you should be gathering about your child as you develop their
Gathering Information about Your
people in your child’s life, such as family members, friends,
cultural associations, school personnel, social workers, current
service providers and community members.
Discuss where your child spends his or her time.Identify
things that others see as strengths that contribute to his or
her positive characteristics.
Identify things that people see as areas where
growth is needed.
Discuss the kinds of choices your child makes.
preferences, including things that motivate your child and create
happiness, and non-preferences, including things that do not
work for them, that create frustration and unhappiness.
Discuss personal goals and dreams.
the most vital priorities to work on now (2-12 months) and in
the future (1-5 years).
opportunities, including things or people that can help your
child achieve his or her personal goals and dreams.
obstacles or barriers, including things or people that are getting
in the way of your child achieving his or her personal goals
strategies to help your child overcome obstacles or barriers
and achieve personal goals and dreams.
you will need to identify information about your family. This
information should include services that you currently use,
what you anticipate needing when your child reaches the end
of school and the ways you can help your child reach their goals
for the future. The following questions are things to consider
in developing a family vision and completing a family profile
supports and services do you use now and will they continue
when your child reaches the age of 18 or 21?
additional or different supports and services do you anticipate
needing in the future?
your child continue to live at home and for how long? Will you
require other living arrangements for your child?
you have the means – financial and otherwise – to
support your child in adulthood?
What financial planning do you need to consider?
are things you will need to include in your transition plan
and are as important as making arrangements for your child.
child, with appropriate assistance, can complete his or her
profile by using the format provided in Tool
7 found in Part 2: Tools & Resources.
You can complete your family profile by using use the format
provided in Tool
8 in Part 2: Tools & Resources.
Step 2: Build the Team
While you will be expected to be very involved in the development
of your child’s transition plan, you do not need to do
it alone. Build a team for your transition plan by seeking the
support of people who can help you to set your child’s
goals for the future and then help in making those goals a reality.
Choose from people who are part of your network of supports
or circle of friends – people you are comfortable with.
It is suggested that your team have at least two members and
no more than eight – any more may be overwhelming.
individuals you may want to consider in addition to yourself
and your child can include the following:
Other family members;
Parents who have recently gone through a transition plan
Other members from the community.
members of the team may be involved with the planning process
from the beginning. Others may be involved on a limited basis.
may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions to identify
the most appropriate members of your network or team:
knows your child best?
Who does your child trust and feel comfortable around?
Who does your child look to for advice and support?
Who would your child like to help him or her with their
transition from school to adulthood?
How can these people best help?
It will be important for you to involve people that know your
child well and that may also have a vested interest in your
child. You will want to include people that have a positive
outlook and can see the gifts and strengths your child has to
offer. Think about including those that will network and advocate
on your child’s behalf in much the same way as you will
yourself. Remember, creativity is going to be a key to the success
of your transition plan. The education system and the service
system may not be able to support you in the way that you expect.
So it is important to involve people on your team who can help
develop innovative ways to support your child as they make their
way to adulthood.
you have established your team, you will need to think about
who could take on the role of coordinator. This person will
be a key contact for the team throughout the process and will
take the lead in organizing the activities of the team.
6 in Part 2: Tools & Resources section provides
a template for keeping track of your team members contact information.
You will likely be responsible for most of the work involved
in the planning process so surround yourself with the right
people. Use your network of supports most effectively and gain
from the experience of others.
Seek out parents that have been through this process before
and involve them in your planning efforts. Find a mentor for
your child – a peer that has recently made the transition
to adulthood who can support your child as they go through the
steps in developing their plan.
2 in Part 2: Tools & Resources provides a suggested
list of roles and responsibilities for members of the transition
3: Set Goals
Once the profiles are completed for your child and your family,
you will need to consider developing goals. Goals are an important
step in the process since they will help identify the kinds
of experiences your child should pursue through their high school
years and the skills they will develop as a result.
are a few things to consider in developing goals with your child.
Write them down so you can tell if your child has achieved the
goal(s). Goals should also be positive and possible. It may
also be helpful to separate them into short-term and longer-term
timeframes. Examples for each are identified below:
goal: Mary will find a volunteer position in the community by
the end of April.
goal: Mary will have a part-time paying job by the end of next
goal: Adam will remain at Middletown Collegiate until age 21
to maximize learning of literacy, numeracy and life skills.
goal: Adam will continue to practise and maintain his literacy
and numeracy skills after leaving school and to further develop
goals is a good way to address a fear your child may have about
the future and it will give them a chance to talk about it.
They can become more comfortable with something that they have
concerns about through a number of small but progressive steps.
is a list of questions you can use to consider as part of the
goal setting exercise.
Goal Category Question
Health What will their health and medical needs be?
How will they live a healthy lifestyle?
Housing/Living Arrangements Where will they be living? Will
they be living at home, in a supported living arrangement, in
a group home, or in their own apartment?
Finance/Money What about money? What will be their source of
income? Will they require assistance with banking? If so, who
Friendship/ Social Life What will their social life look like?
Transportation What will their transportation needs look like?
Do they need to use adapted transit?
Post-secondary Will they go on to further their education?
Education/Training Will they go to a university or college?
Will they take a training course?
Employment What will they do after school is finished?
Will they get a job?
Will they go to a day program?
Recreation What will they do for recreation?
Will they join a sports team?
Will they take an art class?
Community Involvement What will they do during their spare time?
Will they volunteer?
What about spiritual and cultural activities?
Legal/Advocacy What will their legal needs be?
Who will help them stand up for their rights?
9 in Part 2: Tools & Resources may help you to
identify your child’s goals for the future.
Step 4: Action Plan
Now that you have identified the pieces of the plan in the previous
three steps, the action plan will help you pull it all together.
10 in Part 2: Tools & Resources provides
a sample template that you may want to use in developing your
transition plan. Other samples are available in the guides listed
in the Part 2: Tools & Resources under Transition Planning
Guides in Canada and United States.
First, your transition team will review the goals set in Step
3 and the potential supports and services identified to help
in achieving these goals. In doing this, your team should consider
the following questions:
What are your child’s goals?
What skills or behaviours does your child need to learn to achieve
What local programs, services and supports are available to
support your child’s goals?
What responsibilities must you, the school, adult services,
cultural and community agencies, and your family assume in order
for your child to reach his or her goals?
What are the gaps or barriers within current programs and services
that must be addressed?
the team is ready to identify the tasks that need to be completed
to achieve the goals. Members of the team will also need to
assume responsibility for these tasks to ensure that they are
carried out. These
actions need to be fairly detailed so it is clear what needs
to be done, by when and by whom.
next step will involve reviewing the tasks identified to make
sure that they are consistent with the vision developed for
11 in Part 2: Tools and Resources provides
a chart to summarize the actions and assigned responsibilities.
It can then be used to review your progress at the next transition
are many activities that can be completed along the way, other
than those specifically identified in the transition plan that
can be used to help make progress towards your child’s
goals. Many of these activities are ways to establish and reinforce
self-reliance skills for your child. These activities will also
be important to keep track of as you progress through the adolescent
every item will be relevant to every individual. Use the checklist
as a guide to provide you with ideas and make adjustments to
better fit your circumstances.
4 in Part 2: Tools & Resources
provides a checklist of items ranging from birth through adolescence
that can be helpful in moving your child towards his or her
vision of the future.
Step 5: Updating the Plan
of the most important steps is reviewing and updating your plan
on a regular basis. One of the tasks of the transition coordinator
is to schedule meetings to keep track of tasks that have been
assigned and progress towards their completion. These meetings
become an important opportunity to review the goals and ensure
that they continue to be consistent with your child’s
interests and preferences.
reviewing the goals and the tasks assigned to each, it may be
important to revise the goals and make them more specific as
needed. As your child moves through their adolescence, their
interests may become more defined and so too should their goals.
An opportunity provided through a work experience program at
school or a volunteer position in the community may help them
to more clearly set the directions they want to take as an adult.
Use these times of review to ensure the direction in the original
transition plan is still consistent with your child’s
current interests and preferences.