The transition from high school to young adulthood is a critical stage for all teenagers; for students with disabilities, this stage requires extra planning and goal setting. Factors to consider include post-secondary education, the development of career and vocational skills, as well as the ability to live independently. These links and resources may be helpful as a student moves from their educational entitlement to services and supports they may be eligible for as an adult.


    In New Jersey, a child becomes an adult at the age of 18, and all parental rights transfer to the child upon reaching
    this age of majority.
    If you expect your child with disabilities will need help to manage the responsibility of making important adult
    decisions, do you know about the support options?

    Transition Planning: Start the Discussion Early
    At least three years before a child turns 18, the child’s IEP must include a statement that the child and the
    parents or guardians have been informed of the transfer of educational rights from the parents or guardians to
    the child/young adult upon reaching the age of majority. The purpose of providing this information is to protect
    the child’s rights, and will allow the child and parents or guardians time to consider additional support options
    depending on the unique needs of the child. The support options are based on the child’s ability to make
    informed decisions. The least restrictive option being Supported Decision–Making.
    Supported Decision-Making
    • Maintains the young adult’s decision-making ability with the assistance of an individual or individuals
    appointed by the young adult.
    • Family members, friends, or professionals may be appointed to serve as their support in making decisions.
    • Studies have shown that people with disabilities who exercise greater self-determination have a better
    quality of life, display more independence, are more likely to be employed, and are more likely to be
    involved in the community.
    Supported Decision-Making can help people with disabilities to:
    • Understand information, issues, and choices;
    • Focus attention in decision-making;
    • Weigh options;
    • Ensure that decisions are based on their own preferences; and
    • Interpret and/or communicate decisions to other parties.

    Ages 18-20

    • Apply for Medicaid eligibility. (It is recommended that individuals turning 18 apply for SSI, since approval of SSI makes you automatically Medicaid eligible in New Jersey.)
    • Submit the Application for Determination of Eligibility to the Division. (If you were already determined to be eligible for developmental disability services through the Children’s System of Care, within the Department of Children and Families, you may be able to submit the SHORT Application.)
    • After the Division receives and reviews your application, you will be scheduled to complete the NJ Comprehensive Assessment Tool

    During the school year in which you are or will turn 21

    September-June: Preparation and Planning

    • Participate in activities offered through Planning for Adult Life.
    • Use the Division’s Person-Centered Planning Tool to identify your vision for work and life, and the supports that may be needed to achieve it.
    • Learn about Support Coordination and service providers.

    February-April: Support Coordination Agency Selection and Assignment

    April-June: Service Plan Development

    • The Support Coordinator is responsible for writing the Individualized Service Plan (ISP), with guidance from the planning team (student, family, providers, etc.) and information gathered during the Person-Centered Planning process and completion of the NJCAT.
    • *The ISP should be completed and approved before the student exits the school system so that services will be in place upon graduation.