With graduation season approaching, parents are planning for their kids’ launch into adulthood – ready or not.
For parents whose children have special needs, the process of transitioning out of high school and into lives with varying degrees of independence can be daunting.
On Tuesday, March 24, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, offers its biennial Transition Fair for students in grades 8-12 and their parents to help smooth the way.
“You need someone to understand your kids,” said Cathy Feole, whose daughter is a junior at Carrboro High.
“If your child can’t make decisions, you may have to get guardianship,” she said. “Some parents get a power of attorney for medical and financial matters instead. It’s complicated.”
Many children with disabilities, even very significant challenges, successfully graduate from high school and go to college or get full-time employment through job training. That’s where the Transition Fair comes in.
The fair offers a “one-stop shopping” opportunity to learn about community resources and services. Representatives from more than 80 programs will offer information on postsecondary education and training, advocacy, employment, support services, recreation and leisure, legal assistance, Medicaid and Social Security services.
All students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a “504 Plan” in Orange County (covering the two public school districts, charter and private schools) are invited to attend.
The IEP is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.
The Transition Fair occurs every other year, said Susan Lombardo, East Chapel Hill High’s transition facilitator.
“We know that the involvement of community agencies and organizations is vital to the success of all transition planning, that is transition from high school to adult life,” she said. “The school-to-community connection helps to ensure that students with disabilities experience successful adult outcomes.”
In years past, the fair has engaged as many as 100 families.
Participating vendors include many of the UNC system’s campuses, area community colleges, residential services, job-training advocates and legal experts.
The fair will feature presentations as well as break-out sessions highlighting vocational rehabilitation services, housing options and guardianship issues.
For more information on the Transition Fair or to participate as a vendor, contact Susan Lombardo at 919-969-2482, ext. 27023 or firstname.lastname@example.org