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Transition is keyword for ‘Parent Connections’ meeting

MADISON — The recent “Parent Connections” meeting focused on transition, a timely topic for upcoming changes in spring.

Parents of children with disabilities in Madison City Schools and Central Office staff met March 4 at James Clemens High School. “The spring season allows for ‘Transition’ meetings to take place from school to school … and school to the workforce/workplace or post-secondary education,” coordinator of special education Jamie Hill said.

Dr. Maria Kilgore is the district’s director of special education.

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) provides valuable information for vocational options. ADRS’ largest division is Vocational Rehabilitation Service (VRS), which helps Alabamians with disabilities achieve independence through employment, Hill said.

VRS offers training to assist teens and adults with securing jobs. “VRS works with middle schools, high schools, junior colleges and universities statewide to assist students with disabilities in receiving appropriate educational opportunities,” Hill said.

When children are 14 years old (earlier, if appropriate), Madison City Schools uses a “results-oriented process,” easing the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, Hill said. These activities may be post-secondary, vocational, continuing or adult education; independent living; community participation; and integrated employment.

Based on the individual child’s needs, this process considers the child’s strengths, preferences and interests. “Transition also includes appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals,” Hill said.

Another topic was the community-based work program in Madison. Local businesses who place Madison students with special needs include The Westin Huntsville, which has received awards from the district and Madison City Disability Advocacy Board; Huntsville Botanical Garden; Domino’s Pizza; Von Braun Center; Madison Public Library; Raytheon; ARC; and McAllister’s Deli.

Carisa Yeary, vice president of Ability Plus, discussed the organization’s offerings in “a community-inclusive home environment to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” Hill said. Residential homes have staff trained for CPR, first aid and medication.

Parent Connections will meet April 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Columbia Elementary School to discuss referrals for pupil support teams and addressing behavior within Individualized Education Plans.

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