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Kentucky students with disabilities get access to post-secondary mentorship through new program

Marvin Young 2022
Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL) recently received a nearly $10 million grant to go toward helping students with disabilities transition into post-secondary life. Officials said the Kentucky Transition 360 program will be focused on hiring and training family mentors to work with parents and schools to empower students to take charge of their transition.

Jason Wheatley, Post-Secondary Specialist with OSEEL, said his agency is thrilled to have this opportunity to work with students and families and give them all the tools they will need to be successful.

“We’ll have policies and procedures and just, norms, that involve agencies working together with the student, the person, at the forefront,” said Wheatley.

Wheatley said the 360 program will use virtual reality to teach students about and get experience with different aspects of adult life. 18 trained mentors across the Commonwealth will then advise participants through the transition process.

“These mentors are going to be providing training to students and parents and families on the different services that are provided by our identified partners, so those Kentucky Centers for Independent Living, those centers across the state,” said Wheatley.

Other partners include the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network (KY-SPIN) and the KY-SPIN Parent Training and Information Center.

Wheatley added the Federal Office of Special Education Programs is encouraging training initiatives like Kentucky Transition 360 to begin even earlier in a student’s life, with the hopes that early communication about these ideas will help foster independence in students.

The program is funded through a grant from Pathways to Partnerships, part of the Disability Innovation Fund. The money will support the program for five years.