The blog this week was written by Deb Wild, Principal of the KRESA Young Adult Program. When I first became the Principal of the Young Adult Program (YAP) four years ago, I used the analogy of a relay race to describe how YAP fit in the transition of a young adult to their adult world. In this scenario, the High School program passed the “baton” to YAP to develop skills in the areas of Career/Employment, Community Participation, Adult Living and Post Secondary Preparation. When the IEP team felt that the student was ready for their adult life or they reached the age of 26, YAP passed the “baton” to agencies that would support that person for perhaps the rest of their life. Now, thanks to Arcadia Institute, and Community Brokering, we look at the transition to adult life very differently.
Community Brokering begins by looking at a map which includes the student’s dreams, gifts, goals and action steps necessary to live the adult life they desire. Identifying community circle allies and connecting the student to the community are also an important part of the process. What happens next is very exciting because the student begins to live part of their “adult life” one step at a time. Let’s say the student really wants to live in their own apartment. While YAP focuses on providing instruction to develop Adult Living Skills, someone connected with Community Brokering is working with the community and looking for the ideal fit for the student. Now that the student has their apartment, Arcadia may begin to explore options for community participation or work/volunteering. The student now begins to live their adult life bit by bit. During this time, the students has one foot in YAP and is receiving services and instruction necessary to be as independent as possible and one foot in their adult life and is supported by both. Gradually, their time in the Young Adult Program is adjusted to allow them to focus on living their adult life and eventually the student is ready to exit the Young Adult Program with lifelong community supports in place. This works!