Service Provider's Perspectives on Barriers and Facilitators to the School-Community Transition Among Youth with Disabilities

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Schools are required to provide students with disabilities a free and appropriate education. At the age of 22, youth with disabilities must transition out of the school system into their community. The purpose of this study was to explore service provider’s perspectives of transition in rural and urban communities in Georgia.

Methods: Twenty in-depth interviews (N=11 urban; N=9 rural) were conducted with organizational representatives who provide disability services. Two researchers coded the data until 100% consensus was reached. Convergence and divergence across rural and urban perspectives were examined. Major themes were identified, and illustrative quotes selected.

Results: Whereas transition into the school system is easy, transition out is challenging. Service providers suggested schools begin the process too late, resulting in youth being faced with “nothing to do” and “nowhere to go,” especially those who live in rural communities. Many youth with disabilities are unsuccessful in gaining employment due to a lack of social skills – despite teachers’ instructional efforts. Overall, the main barrier to effective transition is a cycle of dependence that is created by government and school interaction with families and mediated by changing policy and lack of information.

Conclusion: Schools provide an important support system that ends with transition. Discussions with youth and families about transition must start earlier (e.g., middle school), with additional focus needed on health and social services. Future research should investigate ways to enhance social skills required for future employment. Finally, schools should partner with service providers to facilitate parents’ transition.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


New Orleans, LA