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Coordination between agencies an issue for disabled students

In a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released this month, the challenged for disabled students are facing major difficulties utilizing federal services aimed to transition from high school into college or the workforce. The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Labor and the Social Security Administration handle these transitions but lack inter-departmental communication.

There is no single strategy for the coordination of transitional services for students with disabilities. Further, the agencies do not evaluate the effectiveness of their programs.

Special education students are guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act plans and aides for their individualized education. However, this program ends when the students leave high school. The GAO report revealed that as of February 2012 the employment rate for disabled young adults from 20 to 54 is less than half of that of their peers.

The National Center for Special Education Research found in September 2011 that over half of teenagers with disabilities pursue education after high school. This reflects a need for these transition services. Assuming that at least half of teenagers with disabilities have the means to pursue post-secondary educations, there are likely many more that can't but would want to. The issues of the transitional system are not allowing these students to transition in a way which allows them to thrive and lead lives as adults in society. Rather, the inability to communicate between agencies or create an office to oversee and guarantee transitional services to teens with disabilities creates a need for legal representation to lobby for these services.

Source: Huffington Post, "Special Education Services After High School Uncoordinated, Unmonitored, GAO Finds," Joy Resmovits, Aug. 6, 2012

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