The basis for Transition Planning and Services is the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004). Here is an overview of the law and what it means for you and your child:

  • Transition planning is meant to help your child progress into the world of adulthood. There are many aspects of adulthood – education and work, of course, but also the ability to live as independently as possible, and participate in the community. Transition Planning and Services addresses each aspect of adulthood.
  • In the state of Maryland, Transition Planning and Services must begin in the school year when the child turns 14 years of age or younger if appropriate.
  • Transition planning is included as part of the child’s IEP. Starting at age 14, your child is a full member of the IEP team along with you and other educators and professionals. Your child must always be invited to IEP meetings that include discussions of his or her transition planning.
  • Transition Planning and Services, like other sections of the IEP, must be individualized for your child. Transition planning should be based on your child’s needs, interests and preferences.
  • According to the law, transition planning is “a coordinated set of activities” – the IEP team works collaboratively and with other service providers to plan and implement all of the parts of the process.
  • Young adults are entitled to Transition Planning and Services through the school year when they turn 21, as part of their free appropriate public education (see more below).

While formal Transition Planning and Services must begin for Maryland students when they reach age 14, families and schools can start supporting transition planning as early as kindergarten. Learn more in the Transition Timelines.

What is the transition process?

Members of the IEP team – including the student and her family-work together to develop realistic, post-school, long-term goals based on her needs, interests and preferences. The IEP team then looks at where the child is now (also known as the child’s “present levels of performance”) and then develops short-term goals and selects and implements supports to help her reach long-term goals.

Some of the key elements of the process include:

  • Ongoing and age-appropriate assessments – the IEP team must always know where the child is now in all areas of his life (relating to education, employment and independent living skills) so it can help plan for his future.
  • Helping the child to know himself better and to build self-determination and self-advocacy skills [Link] that will enable him to address needs and preferences – both now and later.
  • Improving the student’s academic and functional achievement in all areas.
  • Providing a wide range of training and experiences that will help prepare him for all areas of adulthood.
  • Connecting students with college, training options and employment opportunities in the community.
  • Connecting students with the adult service providers.

Who’s involved in the transition planning process?

  • General and special education teachers
  • Transition service coordinators
  • School administrators
  • School counselors
  • Current service providers
  • Health care personnel
  • Adult service providers
  • Potential employers
  • Postsecondary school personnel, including the Disability Services Office
  • Other members of your child’s support network

The most important participants include:

  • Your child
  • You


When it comes to your child’s future, all questions are good ones. Need more information? Ask the people on your child’s IEP team. Still need more information? Check out our comprehensive list of resources.


Transition planning is a TEAM effort!

No one person (not even you) can give your child everything he needs to make a successful transition to adulthood. Transition is a TEAM effort. And everyone on the IEP team—including you and your child—has something to offer, some area of expertise. Each member has an equally important role to play in promoting the successful transition from school to postsecondary education and employment.