The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL) is receiving nearly $10 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for postsecondary transition opportunities for students with disabilities.
Pathways to Partnership, part of the Disability Innovation Fund, awarded nearly $199 million in funding to 20 model demonstration projects. These projects focus on improving economic self-sufficiency for children and youth with disabilities by creating systemic approaches to enhance post-school outcomes.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) “is committed to providing children and youth with disabilities the support they need to access self-advocacy training, career pathways and independent living. The Pathways to Partnerships will bridge gaps from school to adult life, independent living and career success,” said Glenna Wright-Gallo, assistant secretary for USED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which oversees RSA.
The goal of Kentucky Transition 360, a project that will be overseen by KDE’s OSEEL, is to create a model demonstration project focused on collaborative partnership among state agencies to enhance and improve postsecondary opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities.
The “360” in the name signifies a holistic approach that encompasses all angles of the transition process, ensuring students have access to robust experiences in underserved areas.
KDE’s OSEEL will partner in the project with the Kentucky Centers for Independent Living, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network (KY-SPIN) and the KY-SPIN Parent Training and Information Center to provide training for mentors and assist in developing resources and curriculum for transition activities.
“Through this project, we will strengthen partnerships across our state to improve post-school outcomes for our students by engaging and supporting families through innovative services. We are committed to breaking down barriers in order to promote equal access to competitive, integrated employment opportunities for all Kentuckians,” said Gretta Hylton, KDE associate commissioner in OSEEL.
OSEEL supports 171 school districts of the Commonwealth, the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) and the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD), providing a wide array of supports and resources for the education of all exceptional children and early learners.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to continue to lead the state in the area of transition education for students with disabilities,” said Hylton.
Pathways to Partnership grant recipients will receive full funding for a five-year project period, meaning applicants receive all project funds at the beginning of year one. Through the five-year project period, recipients will refine and implement their proposed projects while collecting and analyzing project data.
“This investment will not only require state and local agencies to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities by finding innovative ways of working together, but it will also look to unlock post school and career success for those individuals,” Wright-Gallo said.
Kentucky is one of 20 states that received grant funding from Pathways to Partnership.
OSEEL received an additional $5.6 million from the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), which will go toward these initiatives and transitions for children with disabilities.