Navigating a highly legislated yet under-resourced special education program can be tough enough for parents of children with disabilities, but the greater challenge may be figuring out what paths are available for those children after they finish high school. An event next Tuesday ​— ​the first of its kind in Santa Barbara ​— ​aims to help parents and students make the leap to life after 18.

A workshop called Transition Planning 101 and cohosted by The Santa Barbara Unified School District, the county Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), and Alpha Resource Center will feature speakers and offer resources on the transition to post-secondary education. When students are ready to enter the work world, “That’s like dropping off a cliff for a lot of people,” said Lynn Rodriguez, a former school board trustee and the mother of a student with Down syndrome. Rodriguez has organized a series of public forums called the Community Education Series ​— ​this being the third ​— ​to better facilitate communication between schools and families.

Patty Moore of Alpha Resource Center and mother of a developmentally disabled son said that transition “is a time of taking stock and looking at what you want for your child, but more importantly what your adult child wants for her- or himself.” Parents often come to her asking, “How do we continue to work on life skills? What kind of job options are out there? What public benefits are out there? How do I help my child access those?” Alpha will hold its own annual workshop on March 7.

Event organizers hope to attract not just parents but school staff and administrators, as well as representatives from community agencies, to the San Marcos High School cafeteria on Tuesday night, January 29, from 6-8 p.m. Representatives from SBCC, The Dyslexia Project, and sbSNAP will be present. Translation and childcare are both available, but an RSVP to either the school district or SELPA is necessary.


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