SEPTA to host 'What's Next?' workshop on transition planning

 SEPTA logoWhen Debbie Goddard led her Special Education parent-teacher organization in Ossining, she often recruited specialists and professionals to share expertise with families.

Now Ms. Goddard is among the experts brought in by the Southern Westchester BOCES SEPTA to share her knowledge and experience. A Family and Community Educator with the Westchester Institute for Human Development, she recalls the challenges of her own son’s transition from school to adult services.

“I consider myself a very knowledgeable parent, and still I felt very unprepared for what was happening next,”  Ms. Goddard said.

She and three other facilitators will be featured at the June 10 event titled “My Next Move: Life After High School.” This virtual workshop will offer an overview and description of services provided to eligible adults by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), including day programs, employment, self-direction and transportation.

 vintage Volkswagen busWhat: My Next Move: Life After High School
When: 7 p.m., June 10, 2021
Where: Zoom - See flyer here for login information.

The other facilitators are Matthew Faulkner of the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health and Jacie Feuer, Transition Services Director at Arc of Westchester. The workshop starts at 7 p.m.

Ms. Goddard says families often focus on fighting for the educational services to which their children are entitled. She advises them to take a long-term view with transition because there’s a lot more of life to live after the school years end.

It took her two years to establish her son, who is now 25, on the path he is on. She hopes to give workshop attendees a sense of the resources available to them.

“Even at that, it is still going to be hard, but at least you know what your options are,” she said.

The workshop is the second in an ongoing series. Facilitator Kit Casey said that following an introductory presentation on transition planning in April they heard from participants who wanted more specific information about options after high school.

“Really it came out of what the participants asked for,” said Ms. Casey, a Transitional Specialist with the Lower Hudson Regional Partnership Center.

The goal is to equip people with options, since every family’s experience will be different. It is not usually a linear process. “There’s no specific blueprint,” Ms Goddard said, “but knowledge is power.”

Organizations like the SEPTA are invaluable for networking and as clearinghouses of information, both Ms. Goddard and Ms. Casey agreed. They commended the parents who work hard to keep it an active, vibrant force of advocacy and support for families.

Ms. Casey compared the transition process to putting together a puzzle. You lay out all the pieces, and you know there’s a picture there. You have to put in the time and energy required, and sometimes you have to ask for help.

“Eventually,” she said, “that puzzle will come together, and it’s a beautiful picture.”