UCEDD Success Stories - Sonoran UCEDD at University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

April 5, 2022

Website Link  ttp://sonoranucedd.fcm.arizona.edu/


The Transition Exploration Study funded by the AZ Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, focused on completing a statewide assessment of the current state of transition services in Arizona to identify exemplary practices, areas of need, and recommendations for improving post-school employment rates for youth with disabilities. A comprehensive qualitative and quantitative approach was utilized to gather information from multiple stakeholders involved with transition services for the purpose of contributing to data-informed policy and programmatic decision-making. Multiple methods were employed to ensure a representative picture of the state of the state in transition services was captured and reported. The proposed goals guiding project activities were as follows: 1) Gather information from stakeholder groups in twelve representative school communities across the state using qualitative data collection strategies, and 2) Develop a questionnaire for completion by school and vocational rehabilitation personnel to gain their insights using quantitative data collection strategies.

A total of 75 Individuals were interviewed virtually due to COVID and represented educators, community members, and state agency representatives. After qualitative data collection and analysis was completed, a quantitative survey was composed and distributed statewide. A total of 102 respondents participated in the study representing education, vocational rehabilitation, developmental disability, and provider organizations. A report, five-page executive summary, two infographics, and four geographic profiles were developed for dissemination of findings. Two sessions were conducted with participants to confirm the validity of results and recommendations and ensure there were no other ideas or suggestions that were overlooked. A presentation was provided for the Arizona Special Education and Directors Conference with over 100 participants attending the session. Attendees indicated the study documents would assist them in advocating for additional resources of time and funding as well as improving areas of their current professional practice.

Results indicate that only 18% of schools see transition success, as defined as competitive employment and/or post-secondary outcomes, at their schools. Transition resources were most frequently reported to be inadequate. The top three identified challenges include transportation support, funding resources, and relationships with agencies and families. The most frequently identified strengths were found to be community, staff, and networks in transition. Informal networks and Communities of Practice in Transition were found to be promising practices that were recommended to be developed across additional community networks not based solely on geographic proximity but rather across communities sharing similar characteristics. For example, a Native-focused community connection or rural community connection in transition could offer valuable opportunities to scale emerging best practices across communities who may not be near to one another geographically--but are nonetheless facing a similar post-school transition landscape.

Sonoran UCEDD is pursuing opportunities to address community transition needs identified by the report. Recommendations have been shared with the DD Network, incorporated into our pre-Employment Transition Services project, added into our new five-year work plan, informed our Employment First initiative, and used as a framework for leveraging additional dollars. The study findings were used as a foundation for developing a comprehensive review and analysis for the Administration on Community Livings Transition Planning Grant awarded to our sister UCEDD at Norther Arizona University with a subaward collaboration with our Center.