Dane County Transition Timeline and Policies

The transition of young adults with developmental disabilities from high school into the Dane County adult service system follows a specific timeline and is guided by several policies. This document includes the timeline and policies and their relevance to the transition process:

Transition Timelines for Students with Developmental Disabilities
This guideline identifies the activities and milestones appropriate for transition age students, 18 to 21 years of age.
Dane County Transition Policy regarding High School Graduates with Developmental Disabilities
This policy describes the criteria used for funding vocational support for graduates exiting school with community employment.
Guidelines to the Dane County Transition Policy
These guidelines describe the circumstances under which Dane County may approve exceptional support based on the extraordinary behavioral or medical needs of an individual student.
Guidelines Regarding Transportation Outside Para-Transit Service Boundaries
This guideline explains the approach taken by Dane County in identifying appropriate transportation for individuals residing outside the Madison Metro Para-Transit service area.
Funding Supported Employment Services
This policy describes the philosophy and practices that guide Dane County’s supported employment services, including how the County determines the appropriate level of community support to be funded.
Dane County Policy for Graduates Interested in Self-Employment
This policy provides guidance for those grads interested in self-employment as an alternative to traditional supported employment.

Transition Timelines for Students with Developmental Disabilities

If applying for Long-Term Support through Dane County Department of Human Services (DCDHS):
18 years old (or at least two years prior to transition)
  1. Send to Dane County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) – High School Transition Team:
    • Service Request Form
    • Functional Skills Screen
    • Signed Releases of Information
    • Referral information (i.e., recent M-team)
  2. Eligibility Determination will be completed by ADRC after all documentation is reviewed and an in-person assessment is completed.

For questions regarding eligibility determination, contact the ADRC at (608) 240-7476.

Typical School Services related to Employment:

18 years old
Vocational exploration occurring through the school.
19 years old
  • Job site try-outs arranged through the school.
  • Referral to DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation).
20-21 years old
Placement in permanent job(s) that will transition with the student.

Dane County Department of Human Services (DCDHS) Transition Assistance:

During the student’s final year of school, a Transition Coordinator or Case Manager will assist with the planning necessary to maintain the student’s employment post-high school. DCDHS will determine an individualized support rate and will work with the student/family to select a Support Broker and vocational agency.

Call the Dane County Intake Unit with any questions related to the transition to Long-Term Support at (608) 242-6440.

Dane County Transition Policy Regarding High School Graduates with Developmental Disabilities

In response to extremely long waiting lists for vocational services, the Dane County Board has established a policy affecting young adults with developmental disabilities attending school districts in Dane County. Previously, schools were spending energy and resources training young people in jobs, only to find that when the individual left the school system at age 21 there were no follow-up services available. The person was usually placed on Dane County’s vocational waiting list. The result was that these productive workers lost skills, jobs and income as they sat at home, often for many years, waiting for services.

The Dane County Board decided that it is sound fiscal and ethical policy to continue the on-the-job training and support after the person turns 21 years old, when the schools were no longer responsible for students with developmental disabilities. However in order to be fair to the waiting list, the policy emphasizes continuity of service as opposed to new or increased service. This means that students for whom taxpayer funds have provided job training and placement will receive the needed support to maintain that job schedule when the student has completed school services.

The following conditions need to be met in order for a student to receive county-funded community vocational services at age 21:
  1. The student remains within the school system throughout the year that the individual turns 21 years old.
  2. The student is working in paid employment at the time of transition.

Funding for vocational supports from Dane County will continue for as long as needed. It is expected that other funding sources will be utilized if available, specifically DVR and Medicaid waiver programs.

This policy is contingent on the availability of Dane County funds.

This policy is a tremendous advantage for the young people with developmental disabilities who are leaving the school systems; the alternative could be years of waiting for county funding for vocational services. In order to make this policy work for students, the county, school systems and families need to work together to provide a solid and meaningful transition.

Guidelines to the Dane County Transition Policy

Community Employment for adults with developmental disabilities is the community standard in Dane County. People with disabilities have the same needs and expectations for paid employment as other workers: financial stability, social opportunities, and a sense of achievement and purpose. The Dane County Transition Policy has supported these goals by providing Supported Employment to students leaving school with paid jobs. Most students have greatly benefited from avoiding a stay on waiting lists for vocational services and being able to have a smooth transition between school and work.

There is a small group of students with high medical or behavioral support needs who are unable to attain full-time, if any, employment and who are in precarious situations. This document is intended to provide a guideline for teachers, parents, and students in those circumstances.

Due to medical, stamina, and/or behavioral needs, a person could require support and modification beyond which is typically and reasonably provided by a community employer. In this situation, and if the person meets the county priority criteria for services, a plan will be developed to meet the individual’s unique needs. The plan should be completed at least two years before exiting the schools and be based on vocational assessments and/or situational assessments. The plan will identify expected outcomes through the time the student leaves the school. Participants in the plan development will include the family, school, county representatives and DVR.

Assessments explore the feasibility of Supported Employment by evaluating students in different environments, doing various tasks, using assistive technology, offering varying types of supervision, and seeking different options for work settings. Based on the assessments, the plan may offer an alternative to a standard workday. An alternative workday may include a part-time job and a time for rest and medical treatment. A student’s outcomes should include community employment to the degree the student’s disability allows as determined by the assessment.

The Dane County Developmental Disabilities Unit will determine if a student’s situation meets the priority criteria. The county will decide whether to approve the plan for funding and will establish the funding level. Plans that are as cost-efficient as possible, and based on thorough assessment and analysis are more likely to be approved. If a student does not meet the county’s priority criteria, the Dane County Transition Policy applies.

Guidelines Regarding Transportation Outside Para-transit Service Boundaries

Given the limited funding available to consumers in the adult service system and the high cost of transportation in areas not served by Madison Metro Para-transit, it is the practice of Dane County Adult Community Services to investigate alternatives to county-funded transportation whenever feasible. These alternatives may include:

  • Requesting parents, other family members, or friends/neighbors/coworkers to assist with rides. This would include rides to work or home from work or both, if possible.
  • Using a Social Security Work Incentive, such as an Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE), to help pay for rides.
  • Investigating ride share arrangements, such as state van pools, to commute to/from work.
  • Walking or riding a bike to and from a job.

The actual amount of support a person requires at a job site is the determining factor in setting a vocational rate and does not include the expenses involved with transporting someone to and from a job site. Requesting a vocational agency to provide transportation services is an option to be used if other alternatives cannot be found; however, since transportation costs are not included in the initial rate, the actual amount of job support is likely to be less.

Funding Supported Employment Services

Dane County follows supported employment best practice when funding the supports individuals require to maintain their jobs. This means that workers with disabilities should be matched with positions where individuals can work most independently with the least amount of paid support. This approach accentuates the competence of workers and creates more opportunities for natural integration into the work environment.

Dane County Intake assesses individuals to determine their eligibility for long-term support. Beginning in 2008, those found eligible are also evaluated (using school assessments and other information) to determine the likely level of support required for successful community employment. As much as possible, this determination will be made at least 1 year before exiting school services. For example, those evaluated to have low support needs would likely require occasional “spot checks” to maintain their jobs while those with medium support needs might require the support of a job coach that can be shared with other consumers also on site. Those with high support needs might require the continuous presence of a job coach and periods of 1-to-1 assistance as needed.

Due to the long waiting list for services in Dane County and the need to provide supports in the most cost effective manner, Dane County may be unable to fund support for jobs that exceed the level of support (Low, Medium, or High) determined by Dane County staff. Starting in 2010, 1-to-1 job support will not be an option unless exceptional needs are demonstrated in a supported employment assessment and funding is available.

If you have questions, please contact the Adult Community Services Intake Unit at Dane County Department of Human Services: (608) 242-6440.

Dane County Policy for Graduates Interested in Self-Employment

High School graduates who intend to receive county-funded community vocational services at age 21 for a Supported Self-Employment (SSE) venture should plan for this outcome well in advance (2 to 3 years) of their transition to adult services. Graduates must meet the following criteria:

  1. Complete the Micro-Enterprise Development Questionnaire in order to confirm self-employment as a realistic vocational goal.
  2. Develop a written business plan that includes all elements specified in the Dane County Supported Self-Employment Business Plan Outline by January 31st of the year of graduation.
  3. Receive written approval from Dane County that the business plan meets the requirements of the Supported Self-Employment Program as a viable enterprise (i.e., shows a trend toward profitability by March 1st of the year of graduation).
  4. Be accepted into the DVR Supported Self-Employment Pilot Program no later than the date of the student’s transition from school services to adult DD services. The Pilot Program will address barriers related to business growth and expansion.