Florida Talks Transition! Focus Groups Chipley Jacksonville Viera Tampa Ft. Myers Miami
The goal of the focus groups was to obtain the following information: • preferred communication style of students with disabilities, family members, agency personnel-caregivers, and school personnel; • current methods of receiving information; • perceptions of students with disabilities, family members, and agency personnel/caregivers, and school personnel’s involvement in transition as it is or should be; • factors that contribute to dropout, graduation, employment, and postsecondary education and training; and • supports needed for effective family involvement.
The Sites • April 27, 2009 Miami (FDLRS South) • April 28, 2009 Ft. Myers (Lee County Public Education Center) • April 29, 2009 Tampa (Manhattan Center) • May 6, 2009 Chipley (PAES) • May 18, 2009 Jacksonville (Schultz Center) • May 19, 2009 Viera/Brevard County (Educational Services Facility)
The Schedule… • 4:30-5:45 School personnel Agency personnel and caretakers • 6:00-7:15 Parents and family member Students
Focus Group Instrument… • Statement of Purpose and Introductions • Receiving Current Information about Transition • Preferred Communication about Transition • Parent/Family Involvement in Transition • Student Involvement in Transition • Drop-out Issues and Graduation • Employment • Postsecondary Education and Training • Closing Remarks
The Results… • NVivo8 • Categories (student involvement) • Nodes or themes
How Agencies/Schools would like to disseminate information… • outreach to students and families, • utilization of print materials, • utilization of electronic media, and • IEP information and involvement.
Team Members in Transition and IEPs should include: • Students/clients • Parents • Agency Personnel • Teachers
Team Members in Transition: Agencies and Caretakers Sample Commentary about agency attendance and involvement: We do attend-- all the time, unless there is a conflict Our agency wants to attend if they know what our attendance means. By the time the students reach 17 to 18, agencies should be there. APD has fewer case workers & we get to all IEPs Sometimes if there are conflicts I telephone parent I know it’s important. Interagency Council helps with information.
Sample Commentary about Specific Barriers to Agency Involvement Lack of communication and/or collaboration: The schools need to contact agencies earlier. I am not invited. I get such short notice from the schools. Some schools are excellent about communicating agency information; some are not Information is disseminated/but not at the beginning of the year.
Barriers: Agency Resource, Time and Personnel Shortages • I have 9 different schools • The sheer numbers of IEPs held at the same time – in early spring • There’s not enough agency staff to cover all of our responsibilities. • Information overload; agencies change their way of doing things. • Agencies are interested, but due to numbers, they can’t be at all IEPs. • Schools need to set-up IEPs back to back so agencies can stay one day.
What are the barriers to parent involvement in the transition process and IEP development? Responses were categorized under the following themes: • Student-focused practices, • unfriendly environment, • lack of information, and • lack of time/resources.
Common theme: • “Information needs to be in a central place. One publication to tell us options. “ • “I would like a centralized transition agency-just too many places to go!”
Students with Disabilities Who Drop Out of School. • Lack of options or opportunities • Over-emphasis on academic standards • Lack of support • Life pressures/choices • Lack of self-determination
Thoughts from school personnel: students who drop out There’s no opportunity for vocational education. It’s too academic (School personnel). Vocational classes are closed to students with a special diploma in some districts (School personnel). It’s relevancy—they are getting standardized curriculum and benchmarks, when they need real life skills (School personnel). There is no opportunity to access technical education and learn something they are good at (School personnel). If a student is not successful academically, they must do remediation, and that knocks out electives. It’s mandated (School personnel). They don’t participate in extra-curricular activities (School personnel). There’s a lack of vocational and technical programs (School personnel).
Barriers to Employment • Lack of opportunities or community support • Lack of resources for career exploration or employment • Adequate time for career exploration or employment preparation • Lack of preparation or information about career exploration or employment
What worries you the most about employment after graduation? Sample Student commentary: My disability. How well the job pays bills. I will need to make payments on time. Just getting started. What do I do when I get in? I need people to get me going. I don’t know what to expect. I never worked, but I volunteered Getting stuck in a dead-end job, like minimum wage. Having job satisfaction, and communication. Income, the kind of job The economy going down. Having work clothes.
What do you worry about when you think about students attending college or training programs? • Lack of information about college or training school requirements • Lack of knowledge: disabilities and needed supports: postsecondary personnel • Lack of student preparation • Lack of student self-advocacy and independence
Barriers for Agencies Inadequate understanding of agencies’ role and support • Students are not coming to the table with enough information about their disability and the accommodations they need. • One of the biggest gaps, I think is understanding adult responsibility vs. school; they have to follow through with agencies (families). They don’t see the school’s role ending. • 100% of students are referred to V.R. , but 98% are non-compliant. There’s just no follow through. • Parents who have been involved think that agencies haven’t done anything. • Parents don’t always know “who” they want.