School Transition for Students with Developmental Disabilities

Life After School

The transition from school life to adulthood is a turning point in a young person's life. This is no different for a teenager with developmental disabilities.

Moving from school to adult life can lead to continuing education, getting a job or taking part in other meaningful activities, such as volunteering and job or life-skills development.

This takes advance planning and OPWDD works with the New York State Education Department, local school districts and special education staff to assist students to transition from school and to help plan for the supports that will be needed in adult life.

Facts About Transition Planning

Schools are the bridge that connects students to their futures. 

Transition planning is the process schools use to help students with disabilities and their families as they plan for their lives after high school. 

The sooner the process begins for the student, the better, and schools need to inform students and families about that process and help them navigate through it.

Some facts that schools need to know:

  • Schools can help students/families initiate school transitioning with OPWDD staff before the student is 15 years old, with the student's goals identified on their Individual Educational Program (IEP).
  • Students interested in OPWDD adult supports should begin working with OPWDD at least three years prior to completing their educational program.
  • To be able to work together, schools need to get signed consent forms from the student's family in order to share records with OWPDD or to tell OPWDD about students who may be eligible for OPWDD services
  • Parents or guardians interested in allowing the school and OPWDD to share information must fill out a Consent to Release Information form (found below).

Consent Forms

If you require these documents in a language other than those listed below, please contact OPWDD's Statewide Language Access Coordinator at 1-866-946-9733.

Other School Transition Information

If you require these documents in a language other than those listed below, please contact OPWDD's Statewide Language Access Coordinator at 1-866-946-9733.


To learn more about eligibility for OPWDD services, go to the Eligibility section of this website.

School Transition Toolkit

As a school administrator, you can take advantage of OPWDD's School Transition Kit which includes important materials for you to share with students who are preparing to move from school life to adult life. Contact the local school transition coordinator at the OPWDD Developmental Disabilities Regional Office in your area to get one.

Additional Resources

NYS Special Education Task Force - This task force provides a forum for parents, advocates, attorneys, school personnel, service providers and people with disabilities to discuss issues, policies, proposed changes to law and regulations impacting students with disabilities. The website includes a Special Education in Plain Language guide.

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) - The NYS Education Department's ACCES-VR provides services to help ensure that all youth with disabilities are prepared for employment, post-secondary education and community living when they leave school. ACCES-VR can provide a range of services to help eligible people reach employment goals. 

Transition Source - This website, for parents, professionals and others in New York State, provides transition information that is intended to help advance the post-school outcomes of students with disabilities.

Transition Planning for Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) - This article discusses the importance of transition planning and outlines some of the steps in the process for students with IEPs.

NYSCQC (Commission on Quality of Care) Disability and Law: Transitioning from School to Work Series - This three-part video series, Disability and the Law, explores the importance of preparing young adults with disabilities for the world of work through informative interviews with attorneys, administrators, transition coordinators, teachers, parents, students with disabilities and employers.  It's aim is to educate and inform viewers about the legal rights of people with disabilities.

Ten Sigma and - These links to Ten Sigma's website and an assortment of videos the organization has produced, are designed to provide teachers and schools with practical tools to teach, assess and better ensure student success with transition.

Guide To Internet Plans For Low And Fixed-Income Households - This covers a comprehensive list of financial assistance and Internet Service programs for eligible people.