Students with disabilities face several longstanding challenges accessing services that may assist them as they transition from high school into postsecondary education or the workforce—services such as tutoring, vocational training, and assistive technology. Eligible students with disabilities are entitled to transition planning services during high school, but after leaving high school, to receive services that facilitate their transition they must apply as adults and establish eligibility for programs administered by multiple federal agencies. Students with disabilities may face delays in service and end up on waitlists if these programs are full. In addition, while all five states GAO contacted have taken steps to coordinate their transition services and assist families with the transition process, officials said that it is still difficult for students and their parents to navigate and for providers to coordinate services across different programs.
The Departments of Education (Education), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (Labor), and the Social Security Administration (SSA) coordinate transition activities to some degree, but their coordination has limitations and they do not assess the effectiveness of their efforts.Some detail from the report:
Officials in each of the states we contacted also said that certain groups of students with disabilities are more likely to face limited service options or gaps in service because their disabilities may be less visible or because they are less likely to qualify for adult programs. These groups include students with developmental or cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health disabilities, autism, and mild disabilities.