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Transition Truths: An Overview of Transition Systems

December 30, 2015 Publication

This tool describes the systems that may affect youth with and without disabilities as they transition from youth to adulthood. Youth can use this tool with youth service professionals and other caring adults to learn about their rights within these systems, plan for their transition, and identify changes they can advocate for in their communities. Youth service professionals can use this tool in working with youth and in identifying ways to connect youth to additional supports.

What is Transition?

Transition is a process or period in which something or someone undergoes a change and passes from one stage, form, or activity to another. For this resource, transition is the period of time when adolescents are moving into adulthood and often involves planning for postsecondary education and/or careers. Youth transition to becoming adults roughly between the ages of 14 through 25.

What is a System?

A system is a group of people, places, policies, and programs that connect and interact for a common purpose. For example, the healthcare system brings together people like doctors and patients, places like hospitals and pharmacies, policies like the Affordable Care Act, and programs like health insurance. All these pieces work together to protect the health and well-being of all Americans.

The Healthcare system is just one of the many transition systems that youth may connect with in order to access the supports they need to become successful and independent adults. Knowing about these different systems can help them with transition planning and ultimately better prepare them to take charge of their futures. This tool also shows youth how different systems are related and all work together for the common goal of helping youth successfully transition to adulthood.

This document is an overview and does not reflect all of the important information about transition systems. Please note that systems may operate in slightly different ways from state to state.

Transition Systems

This tool provides a primer on 11 different youth transition systems. Select any of the systems below to learn how the system works, the people and places included in the system, policies and programs related to the system, and eligibility for services within the system. The systems outlined include:

Youth Tool

Youth may review these systems and take a look at the My Transition Truths worksheet at the end to fill in information specific to their own needs and goals.


© 2023 NCWD/Youth