Transition Planning for Students with Mental Health Issues

  • Transition services must begin at age 14.5 in Illinois.An image of some step stones in the ocean
  • Transition planning is an integral part of the student’s IEP.
  • The IEP team develops the transition plan.
  • Student must participate and be invited to any transition planning meeting.
  • The IEP team should consider the following: vocational training, post-secondary education, employment, independent living and community participation.
  • Must be coordinated set of activities oriented toward producing results.
  • Are based on the student’s needs and must take into account their interests and preferences.

Transition Services Defined:

  • Transition Services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is designed with a results oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation.

The Transition IEP:

  • State the student’s post-secondary goals (what he or she hopes to achieve after leaving high school).
  • Be broken down into IEP goals that represent the steps along the way that the student needs to take while still in high school to get ready for the post-secondary life after graduation.
  • Describe in detail the transition services that the student will receive to support his or her achievement of the goals. (e.g. mobility training, job shadowing).

Domains of Adulthood**IEP should include planning in each of these areas:

  • Post-secondary education.
  • Vocational education.
  • Integrated employment.
  • Continuing and adult education.
  • Adult services.
  • Independent living or community participation.

Specific Activities for the IEP Team to Consider:

  • Instruction.
  • Related Services.
  • Community experiences.
  • The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives.
  • If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation. *Evaluations may be necessary in other areas as well.


  • Disabled adult can’t drive.
  • Cannot force medication, hospitalize or residentially place.
  • Making bad decisions doesn’t necessarily lead to a guardianship.
  • Powers of Attorney or Mental Health Declaration are more limited but may be the best way to help a young adult with mental health issues.

Transition IEP Tips:

  • Start early.
  • Determine and write on the IEP who will be responsible for doing what tasks.
  • Agree on timelines for completion.
  • Develop measurable goals/learn to distinguish between a hope and a goal.
  • The school will not do all of this for you. You as a parent must take charge of planning.

Decide Where You Want to End Up:

  • Diploma-When?
  • Vocational.
  • Post-Secondary.
  • Independent Living-timing.

Transition Goals:

  • Measurable.
  • Accurate present levels of performance.
  • Realistic.
  • Data Driven.
  • Identify who will be responsible for implementing the goals.
  • How are we going to get there?
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About Micki Moran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship, and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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