A team comprised of various Shelby County stakeholders recently met to discuss ways to help young adults with special needs transition into the community. The Shelby County School’s Community Transition Team held its first meeting January 26 to introduce the vision, mission, and outcomes of the group.
“The purpose of the meeting is to bring together school personnel, community and business leaders, former educators, parents, student advocates, and many more to collaborate on how to better serve, prepare, and transition our students with special needs into the community,” said Cindy Vinson, Job Coach with Shelby County Schools.
The mission of the Community Transition Team is to help youth with disabilities achieve a successful integration into community life by providing continuous improvement resources to stakeholders, practitioners, and citizens who assist these young people with their transition to adulthood. The Shelby County team is being modeled after a similar team in Jefferson County.
Guest speakers at the meeting included Janis Braue, Director of Adult Services at United Cerebral Palsy and former Special Education coordinator for the Jefferson County School District, and Hoover City Council member Jon Lyda. Braue gave a brief overview of the benefits of having a Community Transition Team. Lyda spoke on the topic of transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, and the potential impact they might have in solving the issue of lack of transportation for these young adults.
Hoover is one of the several local municipalities who have recently passed ordinances to allow the ride-sharing companies to operate within their city limits. Helena’s mayor Mark Hall was also in attendance at the meeting and shared his hope that these types of companies will help get people where they need to go – especially to their places of employment.
Lyda said mass transportation in the Metro Birmingham region has been an on-going issue for many years and he doesn’t see it improving in the near future. The solution is to embrace new technology and business models that can improve transportation.
Vinson said the lack of transportation for young adults with special needs trying to transition into the community has definitely been a problem in the past. They can’t always rely on bus service or ClasTran because service times and locations don’t always match up with their individual needs. That has caused situations where they are waiting for hours to be picked up, which isn’t an option for them or their worried parents.
Collaborating on these types of issues is exactly what the Community Transition Team hopes to accomplish in order to improve services for these young adults. Vinson said the team will initially work to establish a set of goals. Subcommittees for each goal will be established and those members will meet to come up with strategies and ways to complete their goal.