A number of questions and misinformation have been raised about the Young Adult Transition (4+)Program so we thought we would take some of the most commonly asked questions and answer them in a Frequently Asked Questions Document.
Last Updated August 13, 2020.
Q: Is this program for high schoolers?
It is designed for students who have completed the academic requirements to graduate from high school, but still have Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals to achieve.
Q: What is the age range for students in the Four Plus Program?
Students will generally range from 17–21 years of age.
Q: Why is this program needed?
Four Plus programs already exist throughout the state of Iowa serving students with all types of disabilities. Many of these are run by school districts and community colleges. These programs have little to no experience working with blind students. Very often, this results in lowered expectations and no provision of the adjustment to blindness skills blind students need to be independent. The Braille School (IESBVI) has created a program on the campus of the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs. There are more students in need than can be served by this program. Additionally this program is not conveniently located for students outside the western part of the state. The IESBVI program also does not use structured discovery in its skills training, whereas the YATP does.
As an added bonus, the costs associated with this program are considered Pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) expenditures. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires that 15% of our federal grant be spent each year on pre-ETS services.
Q:So why do these students not go directly into the adult adjustment-to-blindness orientation center?
It would be ideal if all students exiting high school had the self-care and personal management skills needed to attend our adult orientation center or go directly to college and employment. However, we are finding a number of students we serve who don’t yet meet the basic requirements of the center. In the past, some students have started the center without these skills and it has caused the student not to be successful and/or it has taken significant staff time away from other center students. YATP students need extra assistance in areas such as preparing meals, managing money, and personal care.
IDB will have previously worked with these students while in high school, and most will have participated in our summer LEAP program. Students who leave high school ready to go directly into the adult orientation center will continue to do so as we want students to be independent and self-sufficient as soon as possible!
Q: Will blindness be the primary disability?
Yes, our focus is on helping all students gain the blindness skills they need to achieve their employment goals. As we do in all of our programs, we will adapt our teaching strategies and techniques to best serve the unique learning needs of each student. Because the majority of the students served by this program have disabilities in addition to blindness, We will work with school districts, service providers, and other partners to help the student obtain any tools or techniques to overcome other barriers that student may be facing.
Q:Will there be a nurse or psychologist working in the four plus program?
No. While we do not administer medication, we provide training and support to students learning to administer their own medication.
Q:What is the structure of the four plus program?
The Four Plus Program will run throughout the school year. Students may continue in the program more than one year if IEP goals have not been met, however, the objective is for the student to graduate and move on to the center, post-secondary education, or employment as soon as possible. The program provides intensive training with lots of hands on practice combined with a positive attitude toward blindness that we anticipate will result in a rate of progress not previously thought possible.
Q: So what does a typical day look like?
During the day, students will work on activities related to achieving their IEP goals. This will be done in cane travel, communications (braille and technology), and careers classes. Students will work on home management and daily living skills with instructors in the evening times cooking meals and cleaning up the kitchens and their room areas.
Q: Will there be business classes and confidence-building activities?
Q:How will going out for dinner and eating on the weekends be covered?
There will be staff present to work with students during evenings and weekends.
Q:Will students receive maintenance to cover their expenses, and, if so, how will budgeting be handled?
Yes, and instructors will work with students on budgeting and handling this money.
Q: Will this interfere with the adult orientation students work spaces, such as in the kitchen and industrial arts areas?
No, YATP students will cook primarily in one of the apartments on the 5th floor. Also with the recent addition of two new kitchens into the Home Ec area, , there is now enough room to allow other programs to use some kitchen space without disrupting the center. The YATP students will not be taking industrial arts as a regular class. YATP classes will be held in other spaces in the apartment and 2nd floor and there is enough space for everyone.
Q: What is the student to staff ratio?
During the first year, we have kept the program intentionally small. This will allow us to get staff hired and trained, refine curriculum, and implement other steps to improve and expand the program. There will be 7 staff to 5 students. In future years, we intend to grow the program to ten or more students and keep the staffing level around 8.
This need has existed for many years. We are excited to have the opportunity to provide a 4+ program with IDB’s positive attitude, high expectations, and non-visual training. While there have been many challenges created by the enactment of WIOA, meeting this long-felt need is a real opportunity. We are very excited to be able to empower the young people to be gainfully employed and live independently. If you have further questions, please contact Helen Stevens at (515) 829–7411 Helen.Stevens@blind.state.ia.us or Emily Wharton at. (515) 802–7313Emily.Wharton@blind.state.ia.us.