Supporting people with disabilities to lead the lives they want to lead in the community. For the past few years, we have been using the Community Brokering Process to support people to transition into their lives in the community. It has been particularly useful for students who are in the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency Young Adult Program. Many of these students have spent years in special education programming from an early age. Now these students are in their early 20’s and are thinking about what they will do when they leave special education services.
Often students and their families have only been exposed to other special services for adults with disabilities. There are day programs and group homes available, but what are choices for leading a life in the community just like anyone else.
This is where Community Brokering comes in as we open up new possibilities for the student with disabilities, their family and friends. In a futures planning meeting, we use tools called MAPS or PATHS to talk about the student’s strengths and interests. Then, we look to the whole community to explore places and activities the student can do that matches these qualities. We ask their family and friends to support them through action steps that lead to meaningful activities, competitive employment and independent living arrangements.
While the student is still in the Young Adult Program, continuing to learn skills that they will need to navigate the community, we are able to prepare them for life after school. They can try new activities, volunteer, and sometimes even part time jobs. We also help them explore various living options in the community and think about what supports they will need to live independently.
Check out our video about Community Brokering here.
If you would like more information about using the Community Broker Process to transition into life in the community please contact Allison Hammond, Executive Director, The Arcadia Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-217-2205.