Domain Seven

Interagency Collaboration

In their article, "Improving Interagency Collaboration: Effective Strategies Used by High-performing Local Districts and Communities" Noonan, Morningstar, and Erikson define interagency collaboration as a, “concept that encompasses formal and informal relationships between schools and adult agencies in which resources are shared to achieve common transition goals” (p. 133).  In addition, they identified 11 effective strategies for successful collaboration which are:

  • Flexible scheduling and staffing

  • Follow-up after transition

  • Administrative support for transition

  • Using a variety of funding sources

  • State-supported technical assistance

  • Ability to build relationships

  • Agency meetings with students and families

  • Training students and families

  • Joint staff training

  • Meetings with agency staff and transition councils

  • Dissemination of information to a broad audience (Noonan et al. (2008).

Transition planning is the process that brings together students, families, educators, and outside agencies, to help students with disabilities prepare for postsecondary education, employment, and independent living. “Many researchers have defined recommended transition planning practices as: student-centered planning, employment experiences during high school, family involvement and interagency collaboration” (Plotner, Shogren, Shaw, VanHorn, & Seo, 2017).  Interagency collaboration requires a joint effort between special educators, transition coordinators, administrators, families and agency staff.  Community transition teams or transition councils, which include representation from local educational agencies (LEA’s) community representatives, disability-related agencies, local colleges, families and students can be formed to improve postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities.  “Community transition teams focus on services at the local level and are better able to:

  • Share resources

  • Hold informational fairs

  • Influence local policies and procedures” (Clark & McDonnell, 1994) (Noonan et al.).

Interagency collaboration involves a joint effort of multiple individuals and agencies.  It relies on openness and knowledge sharing, as we work together to prepare our students with disabilities for adult life. “With the increased focus on supporting students with disabilities to successfully transition into adult environments, there is an increased interest in promoting the collaboration of multiple adult service stakeholders in transition planning and the development of postschool supports for youth with diverse needs.  There is also a growing interest on how transition teams can best work together to maximize service delivery to youth” (Plotner et al., 2017).

There are four key stages of collaboration:

  1. Information sharing

  2. Cooperation

  3. Coordination

  4. Collaboration (Frey, Lohmeier, Lee, & Tollefson, 2006).

For students with disabilities to have positive postsecondary outcomes, much needs to happen before they graduate from high school.  It requires the expertise and resources of several agencies in partnership with the LEA’s.  Interagency collaboration supports the students' goals for education, employment and independent living.

One way LEA's foster regional collaboration is through the agencies that work together as a result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This act was the first major reform to a federal job training program in 15 years.  It is landmark legislation that is designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.  "WIOA contains a number of important changes to the Rehabilitation Act aimed at elevating access to high quality workforce services to prepare people with disabilities for integrated and competitive employment post-school.  Specifically, WIOA promotes accessibility to employment and training services, which means greater need for agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation, to collaborate with Local Education Agencies (LEA’s)" (Plotner et al., 2017).

As students with disabilities approach graduation, one agency to consider including in transition planning is the Centers for Independent Living (CIL).  "CIL's are a natural collaborator in the secondary transition process, particularly as they have established community relationships, expertise in disability rights and self-advocacy and are staffed primarily by individuals with disabilities" (Plotner et al., 2017).  They are authorized under the Rehabilitation Act, 1973, 1998 to provide 5 core services:

  1. Individual and systems advocacy

  2. Peer counseling

  3. Independent living skills training

  4. Information and referral

  5. Transition (transition from high school to adult life and the transition from nursing homes/institutions to the community) (Plotner et al., 2017).

 

Interagency collaboration between LEA’S and adult service agencies must collaborate, communicate, and work together to improve students with disabilities postsecondary outcomes.  

Competencies

7.1

7.2

7.3

7.4

7.5

7.6

7.7

7.8

7.9

7.10

7.11

7.12

Serve as a liaison between families and community agencies

Learn about the range of community services and supports

Identify the roles, capacities, and constraints of community agencies

Develop strategies to collect, share, and use relevant data to identify community needs

Develop and provide transition-related resources and materials to others (e.g., students, parents, educators, service providers, employers)

Facilitate student/family referral to community services

Coordinate interagency agreements between schools and outside agencies

Work with professionals from other disciplines, schools, and agencies

Problem-solve with agencies to address transition barriers

Participate in community-level transition teams (transition councils)

Collaborate with agencies to share funding and staffing for transition services

Help students develop natural support networks in the community

San Gabriel Valley Transition Task Force

The San Gabriel Valley transition task force is made up of 18 different school districts, the Regional Center, and the San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Center in the San Gabriel Valley of California.  Each month a group of transition specialists,  job developers, employment specialists, and program specialists gather to discuss secondary transition, Workability I, trainings, internships, and work place opportunities for students with disabilities.  I've been a member of this task force since September of 2016.  I've included here a few of the agenda's from various meetings and our meeting schedule from 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.  I've learned a tremendous amount by being able to collaborate with other people about what their districts are doing in secondary transition and share some of the different things our district is also doing.

Competencies: 7.8, 7.9, 7.10

College, Career & Workforce Development Task Force

In September of 2017, I met with our Director of Adult Education and Career Technical Education.  The purpose of my meeting was to share with him what I was doing in the area of secondary transition and find ways we could collaborate together to keep our students with disabilities engaged in school.  In addition, I wanted to find out about the different programs the adult school offered, so I could connect students with their different programs.  The College, Career and Workforce Task Force was formed a few years ago to bring together local businesses, colleges, educators, and outside agencies to collaborate and share resources.  I have been attending their monthly meeting for about a year now and have made several different connections.  I've attached several meeting agendas and sign-in sheets, so you can see the variety of people who attend the meetings.  One woman I met is a financial planner.  She was willing to come out to our four comprehensive high schools and teach a financial literacy class to our seniors.  The class was one period a day for four days.  She taught students about money and the concept of saving some, spending some and investing some money.  Students were very engaged as they learned about how important it is to understand money.  I've included her handout here.

 

Competencies: 7.8, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11  

Department of Rehabilitation

The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) works in partnership with students, families, schools and other stakeholders to provide services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living, and equality for individuals with disabilities.  Consistent with this goal and with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), DOR is priortizing service that support student success.  DOR student services are available on a statewide basis to all students with disabilities, 504 plans, and IEP's (Individualized Education Programs).  Through these services and ongoing collaborations with schools, regional centers, America's Job Center of California, and business partners, the DOR seeks to maximize student success in the transition from high school to higher education, employment, independence, and economic self-sufficiency.  

DOR student services consist of pre-employment transition services, provided in accordance with the needs and interests of the student, that fall within the following five categories:

  • Job exploration counseling

  • Work-based learning experiences

  • Postsecondary counseling

  • Work readiness training

  • Self-advocacy training

Students can participate if they:

  • Are 16 through 21

  • Are enrolled in a recognized education program (including home school and alternative high school programs)

  • Have an IEP, a 504 Plan, or a disability  (California Department of Rehabilitation, 2018)

In June of 2018, I met with the three DOR Counselors who will be working in our school district.  We discussed ways we could work together to provide pre-employment transition services to our students with disabilities.  We worked out which teachers and  classes would be best and decided we would begin in September, 2018.  I've included the agenda for that meeting, some information about their services, and an email communication prior to our meeting.

Competencies: 7.3, 7.4, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 7.9, 7.11

Regional Center

The San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center (SG/PRC) is one of 21 regional centers in California operated by private nonprofit corporations which contract with the State Department of Developmental Services to coordinate services for people with developmental disabilities. Each regional center is governed by a Board of Directors that sets policy and direction for the regional center. The SG/PRC Board of Directors is made up of volunteers from the community. The composition of the Board as defined by the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, shall be composed of at least 50 percent parents and/or persons with developmental disabilities. Our school district, along with several others in the San Gabriel Valley, have been collaborating together to establish a Local Partnership Agreement (LPA).  This collaboration is between three state agencies:

  • Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

  • Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

  • Department of Education (DOE)

The goals of our LPA are to:

  • Improve collaboration and coordination between the three departments to prepare and support all individuals with ID/DD who choose Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE)

  • Increase opportunities for individuals with ID/DD who choose CIE to prepare for and participate in the California workforce development system and achieve CIE through existing resources.

  • Support the ability of individuals with ID/DD to make informed choices, adequately prepare for, transition to, and engage in CIE

This task force demonstrates my ability to be involved in interagency collaboration.  I've included our draft of the LPA.  It's our road-map to guide the implementation activities to support the achievement of CIE for individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities over a five-year period.

Competencies:  7.7, 7.8, 7.9, 7.11, 7.12

Transition Fair

The San Gabriel Valley Transition Task Force along with the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center put on a Collaborative Transition Fair.  This event hosts over 50 local agencies such as colleges and postsecondary and work training programs that are in our local area. They provide information about their services for students and parents.  I've volunteered the last two years to work at the registration table.  I've included the flier here.  I distribute this flier to all of our high schools and adult transition program.  It has proven to be an excellent opportunity for students and families to explore their postsecondary options.

Competencies:  7.1, 7.2, 7.12

America's Job Center

Through the College, Career and Workforce Development Task Force, I have established a relationship with our local America's Job Center of California.  One of their Job Developers and I have worked together on different opportunities for our students with disabilities.  Each week he sends me different jobs, and in turn I send this information on to our Education Specialists to pass on to their students.  Below are some of the different job opportunities that he has shared and what documents students need to bring with them to the job center to sign up and apply

Competencies: 7.1, 7.2, 7.12

Resources for Students and Families 

The resource directory that I have include here has information for students and families on transition planning, the transition process, the law, transition assessments, graduation requirements, college entrance and a suggested transition planning timeline.  It also includes numerous resources for:

A. Financial & Legal Supports and Services (SSI, Medicaid waivers, wills & trusts, guardianship, etc.) 
B. Extensive Supports & Developmental Disabilities 
C. Employment (competitive, supported employment, job training, etc.)
D. Independent Living & Advocacy (Centers for Independent Living, transportation, family supports) 
E. Mental Health & Other Health-Related Needs
F. Community Living and Participation (transportation, postsecondary education)

I completed this directory for SPED 859

In our district, we also have a Family Support and Resource Center for all families.  They provide services to help families improve the quality of their lives and establish homes that allow children to thrive.

Competencies: 7.2, 7.5, 7.6, 7.8

Secondary Transition Brochure

I created a brochure for students, parents, educators, service providers, and employers to provide information about secondary transition.  It's a great introduction to what secondary transition is all about.  

Competencies: 7.5

References

Clark, G.M., & McDonnell, J. (1994). The role of local transition councils in rural communities. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 13, p. 3-8.

Department of Rehabilitation. (n.d.). California Department of Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://www.rehab.cahwnet.gov/.

Family Support and Resource Center, 605 North Park Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768 https://edline.pusd.org/pages/PUSD/Departments/PupolResources/SMHS.

 

Frey, B. B., Lohmeier, J. H., Lee, S. W., & Tollefson, N. (2006). Measuring collaboration among grant partners.  American Journal of Evaluation,27(3), 383-392. doi:10.1177/1098214006290356.

Noonan, Pl, Morningstar, M., & Gaumer Erickson, A. (2008). Improving interagency collaboration: Effective strategies used by high-performing local districts and communities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31, 132-143.

Noonan, P. M., Erickson, A. G., & Morningstar, M. E. (2012). Effects of Community Transition Teams on Interagency Collaboration for School and Adult Agency Staff. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals,36(2), 96-104. doi:10.1177/2165143412451119.

Plotner, A. J., Shogren, K. A., Shaw, L. A., Stinnett, C. V., & Seo, H. (2016). Centers for independent living and secondary transition collaboration: Characteristics for enhanced service delivery for adolescents in the United States. Disability and Rehabilitation,39(13), 1287-1295. doi:10.1080/09638288.2016.1193904.

San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sgprc.org/about-us/contact-us.

The Rehabilitation Act. (2017, February 27). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/reg/narrative.htmlWorkforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.edd.ca.gov/Jobs_and_Training/Workforce_Innovation_and_Opportunity_Act.htm&p=DevEx.LB.1,5067.1