National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Team Development and Facilitation
Examples of Evidence-Based Models of Interagency Transition Teams
Transition in Pennsylvania is a shared responsibility across 10 offices
including four state agencies (Education, Labor and Industry, Public Welfare,
and Health), which are parties to the Individuals with Disabilities in
Education Act Memorandum of Understanding (IDEA-MOU). The IDEA-MOU identifies
how services for youth with disabilities will be provided and coordinated
in the state, the agencies responsible for services, financial responsibility,
conditions and terms of reimbursement, as well as procedures to address
interagency disputes and coordinate services.
This agreement covers services for students with disabilities at all
levels. Transition planning involves a partnership of consumers, school-age
services and programs, postschool services and programs, and local communities
that result in higher education, employment, independent living, and community
What is the team purpose?
The mission of the Pennsylvania Training and Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
is to support the efforts and initiatives of the Bureau of Special Education
and build the capacity of local educational agencies to provide appropriate
services to students who receive special education services. PaTTAN has
taken a leadership role in the transition initiatives in Pennsylvania
for many years, including the IDEA-MOU activities.
Since the inception of the IDEA-MOU and the initial meetings of the interagency
team, the principles of a Community of Practice (CoP) have been advanced
by creating a shared agenda to support the successful transition of students
to postsecondary outcomes including postsecondary education and training,
employment, and community participation.
Pennsylvania’s CoP, focusing on secondary transition, embraces
the essential elements of a community. The members are a learning community
who share a common interest in and responsibility to provide services
to youth with disabilities transitioning from school to adult services,
and the team seeks to expand the knowledge, experience, and leveraging
power of the group.
A major focus of Pennsylvania’s Transition CoP is to support and
advance the activities of the Local Transition Coordinating Councils (LTCCs)
to establish the availability of cross-systems programs and services for
Pennsylvania’s youth with disabilities. The 63 regional LTCCs have
a comprehensive cross-system membership that includes students, family
members, educational staff, personnel from outside agencies, employers,
higher education representatives, government officials, and other individuals
interested in ensuring successful postschool outcomes for young adults
with disabilities. The LTCCs are focused on developing best practice transition
projects, products, and activities which will enable young adults with
disabilities to be successful after high school in the areas of employment,
education/training, and community living.
Who’s on the team?
The IDEA-MOU interagency team is comprised of individuals who work in
the following state offices:
- Department of Education: Bureau of Special Education, Bureau of Career
and Technical Education
- Department of Labor and Industry: Office of Vocational Rehabilitation,
Office of Workforce Investment
- Department of Public Welfare: Office of Mental Retardation; Office
of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Office of Children, Youth
and Families; Office of Medical Assistance
- Department of Health: Bureau of Family Health, Bureau of Drug and
While not a formal party to the IDEA-MOU, the Parent Education Network
(PEN), a parent training and information center in Pennsylvania, is an
important partner in the planning, development, and delivery of all of
the transition training initiatives.
What activities has the team undertaken?
The members of the IDEA-MOU interagency team identified the following
guiding principles for promoting their shared vision on secondary transition
and for moving that vision forward:
- Identifying common goals;
- Valuing parent partnerships;
- Focusing on student outcomes;
- Continuously working as a team;
- Valuing one another’s perspectives;
- Maintaining a welcoming demeanor;
- Building trust across all team members;
- Valuing the opinions of all stakeholders;
- Building relationships with team members;
- Having mutual respect among team members;
- Assuring ongoing communication with all team members;
- Building networks and relationships across “systems” and
- Creating transition strategies and activities based upon the “bigger
- Building a foundation by collaborating, cooperating, and communicating.
The Bureau of Special Education, through the PaTTAN system, has provided
the majority of financial support for all training and technical assistance
activities in Pennsylvania through IDEA 1997 and state improvement grant
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, in partnership with the Department
of Education, charted a new course through the design and implementation
of a financial Memorandum of Understanding. Following final approval by
the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Education,
39 local and two statewide transition projects were initiated in fall
2003. Each of the local projects fits into more than one of the following
categories: outreach-underserved, assessment (vocational), mentoring,
employment, and postsecondary education and training.
There are two statewide projects: Capacity Building (State and Local
Training and Networking support) and Needs Assessments.
To expand the communication network of the Pennsylvania Transition Initiative,
an electronic mailing list was formed in cooperation with the National
Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). The IDEA-MOU
interagency team is developing an interactive Web site to serve as the
hub of information sharing. Policy actions and program guidance have been
issued by many partners to their respective field staff in support of
the interagency work needed to expand opportunities for youth with disabilities
transitioning to postschool outcomes.
- On September 8, 2000, a joint memorandum issued by the Bureau of Special
Education and the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs affirmed the roles
and responsibilities outlined by the IDEA-MOU.
- On October 4, 2002, a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bulletin entitled
The Roles and Responsibilities of County Mental Health/Mental Retardation
Programs in the Development of a Child’s Individual Education
Program was issued.
- A bulletin, Performance Expectations and Recommended Guidelines
for the County Child and Adolescent Service System Program, which
reinforced the principles of cross-systems collaboration, was jointly
issued by the Deputy Secretaries for Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Services; Medical Assistance Programs; Children, Youth and Families;
Mental Retardation; Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission; Health
Promotion and Disease Prevention; Elementary and Secondary Education;
Department of Health; and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.
- In spring 2002, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
began funding five pilot projects supporting the transition of adolescents
and young adults with mental disorders to adult life. Funds to support
these projects are being made available through the Community Mental
Health Services Block Grant funds. The projects collaborate with a school
district in the region to implement that component of the project.
- The Office of Mental Retardation led the development of local interagency
teams to promote employment outcomes of youth with disabilities in three
areas of the state.
- The Office of Children, Youth and Families promotes interagency collaboration
through their Program Improvement Plan for Child and Family Well Being
Outcomes, and especially encourages interagency participation and coordination
of services through the Chafee Independent Living Workgroup.
- The state Youth Council also includes cross-agency participation and
has included outreach to youth with disabilities in the priorities of
- The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has played a leadership
role in the IDEA-MOU efforts and the Pennsylvania transition initiative.
The administration of OVR has established transition as one of the top
priorities of the agency. The state plan has included transition goals
since 2001. In 2002, 34% of the total number of individuals served were
under 25 (national average: 28%).
- Under the auspices of the Bureau of Special Education, a mini-grant
program was designed and implemented during the 2002-03 school year
to assist local education agencies in implementing research-based practices
related to improving transition services to students with disabilities.
The schools were required to commit to improving student results. All
projects were expected to report quantitative data related to subsequent
changes in student achievement and measurable objectives. Clear evaluative
methods were required.
- Mentoring mini-grants (up to $7,500) were available for 2002 Transition
Conference program participants who wished to enter into a mentoring
relationship with others replicating a substantial part or all of their
program or project. To qualify for a mini-grant to replicate one of
the transition mentor projects, a school district, charter school, or
approved private school team had to be comprised of an administrator,
teacher, parent, local IU transition consultant, and a community agency
representative. Agency participation was strongly encouraged and teams
were required to attend the conference. Mini-grants were awarded in
the following areas of transition: employment community living/participation;
career development/awareness; interagency and community partnerships;
self-determination; transition assessment; postsecondary education,
and interagency referral process. Oversight of the mini-grants occurred
through the PaTTAN system.
When does the team meet?
In fall 2000, a series of meetings were held in seven locations across
the state. In planning for one of the first statewide trainings, the IDEA-MOU
interagency team met and discussed how to advance an interagency approach
to service delivery for students with disabilities. They concluded that
local service providers had to have a basic understanding of the range
of services provided by schools and other agencies before they could be
expected to invite or be invited to the table to cooperatively plan for
and provide services to students and clients. These first meetings provided
this information by having staff from each of the departments, member
offices, and bureaus present basic information about programs, services,
and contact information. A cross-systems audience including educators,
agency staff, and parents attended the training.
How does the team evaluate its work?
Several evaluative strategies are used, including: determining the feasibility
of a cross-systems data-sharing system to identify and track transitioning
youth with disabilities across agency boundaries; designing and piloting
a postsecondary follow-up survey of youth with disabilities leaving the
education system; and establishing data elements and database design to
compile data from the OVR transition projects, so OVR is in a position
to do a multiple-year follow-up of the employment outcomes of youth with
disabilities and the potential impact of the project.
For more information, contact:
This section provides examples of some outstanding state interagency
transition teams. These states were selected through a Web search for
information, personal correspondence with individuals familiar with interagency
state transition teams, and in some cases, correspondence with state representatives.
While the authors tried to be consistent with information from one state
to the next, the unique nature of each state and its interagency transition
team sometimes did not lend itself to this objective. Further contact
information is included if more indepth information is desired.
The authors express thanks to each of these states for sharing information
or giving permission to use their data in this Essential Tool.
503k, 64 pages
Citation: Stodden, R. A., Brown,
S. E., Galloway, L. M., Mrazek, S., & Noy, L. (2004). Essential
tools: Interagency transition team development and facilitation. Minneapolis,
MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National
Center on Secondary Education and Transition.
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This document was published by the National
Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). NCSET is supported
through a cooperative agreement #H326J000005 with the U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions expressed
herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department
of Education Programs, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
The University of Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Education, and the
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition are equal opportunity
employers and educators.