When the bus no longer comes 

Making the transition from school to what’s next

Danielle is helping Danté with Core Competencies: Comprehensive Transitional Care, Person and Family Support, and Person and Family Support. 

Danté is at a crossroads. He attends high school but is at the point where he needs to transition to an adult life. This can be a challenging time for Members, but especially for parents.

Fear of the next step

A young man sits and smiles with a young woman behind him who is smiling.
Danté with his Care Manager, Danielle

“For me, the biggest challenge was to stop being paralyzed with fear over the thought, ‘What happens when the school bus stops coming?'” said Karlene Cimo, Dante’s mother. She shared that concern with Danté’s Care Manager, Danielle, who was confident they would find the right fit for Danté. “She said we should look at this as his next new adventure,” Karlene said.

Danté loves school, but according to Karlene, he isn’t suited for college. Day hab and employment may be a better path for him. “Like any other student graduating, a young person with an intellectual or developmental disability has a menu of options—college, vocational or tech school, job training, volunteering, attending a local day hab or moving straight on to employment, to name a few,” said Karlene. “No matter the choice, Danielle is there to make sure that Danté has the additional supports and connections to the community for him to succeed.”

Help to transition

Karlene says Danielle has been an incredible help getting Danté through this transition. Danielle has participated in monthly one-on-one meetings and joined Karlene in school meetings. Through her conversations with provider agency programs like The ARC’s school-to-work program, Danielle has understood Danté’s abilities, skills, likes, and dislikes.

Danielle advocated for Danté to participate in a work program through The ARC of Oneida Lewis. Danté’s day currently includes housekeeping at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in Utica in the morning and attending his high school classes in the afternoon.

More hurdles

The hotel would like to offer Danté a part-time job, but this would require a community worker to accompany him. Danielle is working with Danté’s self-direction budget to make this happen. Danielle is also looking for a day hab that’s the best fit for Danté to occupy his time that isn’t filled with work. “I thought, why switch it up if things are going well?” said Danielle. “Danté’s so well suited to the hotel job. He’s their guy!”

“Having a Care Manager create a schedule for Danté is a big lift for me as a working single mother,” said Karlene. “Some parents don’t understand that if they don’t have a plan for their child, they may be nowhere when the bus stops coming.”

Tips for Transition

Here are some tips for parents/caregivers who need to guide their children in transition.

  • If a school offers to bridge the transition to adulthood, involve your Care Manager in the school’s transition planning process. Discuss your student’s progress and goals for after graduation.
  • Start early! OPWDD states that “schools can help students/families initiate school transitioning with OPWDD staff before the student is 15 years old, with the student’s goals identified on their Individual Educational Program (IEP).”
  • Remember: Transition planning is a collaboration. Your Care Manager is there to make the connections to those resources that will give your young adult the supports needed to be at their best. There is no reason to step into the next phase alone.