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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition

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 participation.

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 Alcohol

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 audiences;
  • Creating transition strategies and activities based upon the “bigger picture,” and
  • 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 funds.

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 council.
  • 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:

Michael Stoehr
Pattan Pittsburgh

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.

Table of Contents

Cover Page


Background on Interagency Transition Teams

Four Tools for Interagency Transition Teams
Overview/Introductory Tool: Using Teaming Principles to Guide Your Work
Tool 1: How to Build an Effective Interagency Transition Team
Tool 2: How to Determine Initial Roles, Responsibilities, and the Team Vision
Tool 3: How to Conduct Interagency Transition Team Meetings
Tool 4: Knowing if Your Interagency Transition Team is On-Track and Meeting its Goals

Examples of Evidence-Based Models of Interagency Transition Teams


Additional Resources

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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.

Permission is granted to duplicate this publication in its entirety or portions thereof. Upon request, this publication will be made available in alternative formats. For additional copies of this publication, or to request an alternate format, please contact: Institute on Community Integration Publications Office, 109 Pattee Hall, 150 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 624-4512, icipub@umn.edu.

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.