Aligning School & Community Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
support improved service coordination?
The IDEA requires formal and systematic transition planning services
for students with disabilities. This planning is accomplished by
local interagency transition teams who create an Individual Education
Program (IEP) for each eligible student. A statement of transition
service needs must be included in each students IEP beginning
at age 14 (or younger if deemed appropriate). This statement must
include, when appropriate, a statement of interagency responsibilities
or any needed linkages. Specifically, IDEA requires the sharing
of transition programming responsibilities among special, vocational,
and general educators, employment specialists, and specialists in
vocational rehabilitation, postsecondary education, social services,
and mental health. Interagency coordination and alignment of services
is a critical component in helping youth with disabilities make
a successful transition to adult roles.
What resources can and should be aligned in a community to ensure
that youth with disabilities have full access to the services and
supports needed for transition?
There are a myriad of available funding streams, legislation, and
resources a community can and should align in order to meet the
needs of transition-aged youth with disabilities. Some of these
- Education. Various education agencies offer
programs including general education, special education, postsecondary
education, and vocational education and training, to name a few.
- Health and Human Services. Governmental programs
and services under Health and Human Services can provide resources
regarding Medicare, Healthy and Ready-to-Work programs, mental
health, and protection and advocacy. Other resources can be found
within developmental disability councils.
- Workforce Development. Resources under this
agency focus on training, employment programs, and service options
for youth, including youth with disabilities. Examples of workforce
development resources include such model programs as Job Corps
and the opportunities available under the Workforce Investment
Act. Other opportunities include those provided by employers,
business associations, and labor unions.
- Social Security. Local Social Security Administration
offices offer programs and services for youth receiving Social
Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance
(SSDI). These programs also offer resources that can be accessed
and aligned to meet the transition needs of youth with disabilities.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services. These
agencies offer an array of services for people with disabilities,
including career guidance and counseling, vocational evaluation,
vocational training, job placement, and follow-up services.
- Parents and Families. Parents and families
have a vested interest in seeing the alignment of community resources.
Typically, the family has the experience of assisting the child
through the entire transition process.
- Youth. Youth should always have a voice in
the design of initiatives that center around their needs. They,
like parents and family, have a unique and valued perspective.
This list is not exhaustive, as resources vary from community to
community. Communities can also access programs provided by agencies
for independent living, juvenile justice, transportation, agriculture,
and other agencies.
How can school and community services be better coordinated?
This coordination can be achieved through resource mapping, a method
used to link and align community resources with organizational goals,
strategies, and expected outcomes. As a result of mapping and aligning
resources, there can be better service coordination in the community.
Resource mapping is a collaborative activity in which a variety of informed partners:
- establish a shared vision, definition, priorities, and desired
- identify all complementary resources from multiple sources that
can be aligned to accomplish a vision;
- note any priorities that lack resources and then design solutions
to fill those gaps; and
- implement an ongoing process that maximizes all relevant resources
by employing them in a strategic way to accomplish common goals.
Resource mapping allows communities to identify existing resources
and determine what new resources are needed to build systems that
serve youth rather than targeting funds based on criteria and categories.
The process helps agencies and programs that share common goals
to begin a dialogue and build on each others efforts instead
of working in isolation. Furthermore, mapping resources can help
a community identify a need for additional policy or legislation
to fill a gap or enhance an existing program.
What are the benefits of aligning school and community resources?
The benefits of resource mapping are many. As a result of taking
part in this process, a community can develop a comprehensive youth
system so that every young person can access the services that allow
him or her to lead a productive and full life. Specifically, the
resource mapping process can help a community:
- gain in-depth information about an agencys policies, procedures,
funding streams, and collaborative practices;
- identify opportunities and challenges for meeting the transition
needs of youth with disabilities; and
- provide a comprehensive set of policy recommendations across
agencies and opportunities for interagency collaboration.
Other benefits of resource mapping include:
- identification of new resources to develop, enhance, and sustain
- determination of whether existing resources are being used effectively
to achieve expected outcomes;
- improved alignment and coordination of resources;
- enhanced coordination and collaboration among those with relevant
- development of new policies and legislation to better meet goals
Why is it so important to establish a vision statement at the beginning,
and to develop goals to guide the resource mapping process?
There is no point in engaging in resource mapping if you do not
have a clear vision of what you hope to gain through the mapping
process. An established vision helps to determine the resources
First, a vision statement provides a touchstone to which an organization
can continually refer. A vision statement establishes the reasons
for a resource mapping collaboration and describes why coordinating
and aligning resources is necessary. Second, the vision statement
determines organizational goals, partnerships, and strategies to
meet objectives. Finally, a good vision statement helps outsiders
understand the purpose of resource mapping and offers compelling
reasons for them to get involved.
All stakeholders should be involved in establishing the vision
statement, even though this may take some time. The resource mapping
process brings together community agencies around a common vision
and goals. Working together, key community partners identify those
resources — whether human, fiscal, or programmatic —
that best meet their vision and goals. The process is ongoing and
needs to be continually monitored.