The Arc Westchester Launches Transition Academy for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Innovative programs help individuals build critical skills, work towards employment

Vincent was very interested in gaining employment when he began his first transition curriculum at The Arc Westchester. With the help of the team, Vincent learned how to advocate for himself – so much so that he applied his enhanced advocacy skills to help secure a slot in Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement, which will help him to build the skills he needs for employment.

The Arc Westchester announced the creation of a Transition Academy to support young adults with developmental disabilities as they transition out of high school. The Transition Academy will deliver a coordinated, integrated set of transition and employment services to help young adults who have already transitioned out of high school, or are about to, create a person-centered adult life plan that includes both personal and professional development supports that meet the needs of transition-aged individuals, their families, and other professionals.

“Over the next ten years, an estimated half a million young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will turn 21 and age out of high school, losing their eligibility for services through the education system,” said Tibi Guzmán, Executive Director/CEO of The Arc Westchester. “The Transition Academy fills a services gap, provides a continuum of support and paves a way for individuals existing high school to work towards employment in the community.”

Core programs offered through the Transition Academy include:

Prep4Success & Transition Services Full-Year Program

Prep4Success is designed for people with developmental disabilities who are preparing to exit high school. The program, which was previously offered as a pilot program serving t cycles of participants in 2021, will now become a year-long offering. Under this new model, Prep4Success will deliver more than 700-hours of curriculum/instruction over the next three years in person and virtually. All participants and their families will receive community transition services from The Arc Westchester.

Employment Connection Pilot Program

Designed to assist individuals with gaining meaningful community employment, this pilot program will provide individualized supports to young adults with developmental disabilities as they transition into successful placement with Supported Employment Services. It will offer an array of supports which will include careful exploration of each person’s interest and career goals, assessment of skill level, and opportunities to observe and try out actual jobs in the community that relate to their interests and career goals.

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement (PSAE)

This community pre-vocational internship program takes place at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s (NYPH) campus in White Plains, NY, where interns are totally immersed in the workplace facilitates to learn different processes as well as marketable work skills. PSAE was created by NEXT for AUTISM in partnership with The Arc Westchester, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and New York-Presbyterian’s Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. The program is designed for individuals whose goal is competitive employment and has graduated 64 individuals since its inception.

Acquiring and retaining meaningful employment is critical to independence in adult life, yet people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities are disproportionately unemployed. The Transition Academy delivers a suite of services to help individuals identify their passions, interests and strengths while working towards achieving their goals for life after high school.

“The Transition Academy delivers a critical support system for individuals who have lost the structure and stability provided by the educational system,” said Nancy Patota, executive director of The Arc Westchester Foundation. “We are pleased to have the investment of a generous funder to help make our dream of expanded transition services a reality and to witness the remarkable progress that young adults in Westchester County will make by participating in our continuum of innovative programs and supports.”

To learn more about The Arc Westchester’s innovative continuum of transition services, visit www.arcwestchester.org.

 

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