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SSD transition services

Transition tools

Checklist for the first 21 years (PDF)
SSD Transition Guidebook (PDF)
Key terms and acronyms


SSD transition services
Simply put, transition is change – movement from one situation to another. For students with disabilities, one of the most significant transitions in life is moving from high school into the adult world.

Following is an overview of SSD transition services:

Transition from school to adult life must be addressed in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) beginning at age 16, and earlier if appropriate. Often, students are prepared at the time of graduation from high school to meet their post-secondary goals for employment, education and independent living. However, when a student has attended four years of high school and still has transition needs in order to successfully meet post-secondary goals, then he or she may be considered through the IEP process for the Vocational Skills Program.

The mission of the Vocational Skills Program is to provide a continuum of supports and services to students and families to assist the students in gaining skills needed to achieve realistic and meaningful post-secondary goals.

The Vocational Skills Program services are provided at one of the many community-based classrooms/work sites that are located across St. Louis County. Contact information is included below.

Casey Wisdom, Director of Transition Services: 314.989.8399

Laura Bedo, Area Coordinator: 314.989.8191

  • Barnes Jewish Hospital, Children’s Hospital, DePaul Hospital, Garden Villas North, Mercy Medical Center, Missouri Veterans Home, SSD Distribution Center, SSD Learning Center, St. Louis Lambert Airport, St. Mary’s Hospital, University City Children’s Center, UMSL, Village North

Aimee Pullen, Area Coordinator: 314.989.8530

  • Accent Group Solutions, Cape Albeon, CleanTech, Friendship Village, Green Park Senior Living, Maritz, Missouri National Guard-JB, Monsanto Chesterfield, Monsanto Creve Coeur, Missouri Baptist Medical , St. Clare Health Center, Tesson Heights, Veterans Administration-JB, Center, St. Luke’s Hospital

To assist the Vocational Skills Program leadership team with assigning community-based classroom locations, parents are asked to complete and return the Parent/Student Survey (PDF) to the case manager before or at the time of the IEP meeting.

CBVI: Community-Based Vocational Instruction
Community-Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) is designed to help high school students learn work behaviors in a real-work environment. Students who have post-secondary goals for employment that need to learn appropriate work behaviors in a real-life setting and will need supported employment are eligible for this program. Worksites are developed close to the high school. Transportation to the worksite is provided by SSD or Metro and students are accompanied by a teacher and teacher assistant. Students may spend anywhere from one to five days per week at the worksite for a specified amount of time. Teachers record student progress on work skills and appropriate behaviors or soft skills that are needed in order to be successful in meeting post-secondary goals for employment. SSD currently has CBVI programs in more than 100 local businesses.

Graduation requirements
According to the state of Missouri, a student with a disability may graduate if:

  • IEP goals and objectives, as measured by the evaluation procedures and criteria specified in the IEP are met, or
  • By taking and passing regular courses with or without modification
    After meeting local graduation requirements and receiving a diploma, a student may choose to:
    • Work with or without support from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) or Rehabilitation Services for the Blind
    • Attend a college, university, community college, or vocational or trade school with or without support from the VR or Rehabilitation Services for the Blind
    • Participate in a daytime activity or volunteer in the community

COOP: Cooperative Work Experience
The Cooperative Work Experience program (COOP) is available to qualifying high school students with disabilities whose IEPs indicate the need for work experience in a competitive setting and who also are eligible as clients of VR. Program goals include acquiring general skills related to performing work under supervision, as well as job-related skills.

COOP offers students:

  • The opportunity to earn elective credit toward graduation for their work
  • The opportunity to be released from school for at least one hour per day
  • Supervision by the Work Experience Coordinator (WEC) from the school who will assign credit based on hours worked and provide off-campus supervision
  • An opportunity to find entry-level employment prior to graduation
  • Support for increasing their ability to find and hold jobs
  • Motivation to stay in school
  • The opportunity to earn up to four units of elective credits during the school year for off-campus work experience

Participants in COOP must be:

  • Enrolled in a school where there is a certified WEC and COOP agreement
  • At least 16 years old and have an IEP
  • Certified eligible by VR
  • Able to find their own transportation to and from work
  • Competitively employed
  • Able to turn in pay stubs to the WEC
  • Enrolled in or be receiving related instruction

For more information about the COOP or to explore the possibility of applying, speak to the case manager during the IEP meeting. Decisions about enrolling in the COOP should be made at the IEP meeting well in advance because the certification process for VR may take up to 60 days to complete.

Productive Living Board Opportunities for Students With Developmental Disabilities

SWEP: Summer Work Experience Program

The mission of the Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) is to provide a meaningful work experience that will assist students in a smoother transition into the world of work. SWEP is designed to provide the experience of working to those who have limited or no work experience or who need extra support in being successful on the job.

SWEP offers:

  • Eight weeks of summer employment
  • A twenty-hour work week
  • A paycheck
  • Jobs that match the participant's preferences and support needs
  • Job coach support
  • "Lessons learned" curriculum
  • Documented work history
  • The opportunity to explore a new job
  • The possibility of a permanent job

Participants in SWEP must:

  • Live in St. Louis County
  • Be between the ages of 16 and 20 and planning to return to a school program in the fall
  • Be an active client of Department of Mental Health (Regional Office)
  • Be committed to working the entire eight weeks of the program
  • Have transportation to and from work

Applications are available through schools during October and are due Feb. 1. Student applicants who are the oldest will be served first. SWEP is made possible with funding from the Productive Living Board (PLB) of St. Louis County, in collaboration with SSD, family members, employers and adult service providers.

Contact information for accessing transition supports in your area

Leslie Caldwell, Transition Effective Practice Specialist: 314.989.8264
Diane Thames, Transition Facilitator: 314.989.8157

  • Brentwood, Clayton, Hazelwood, Jennings, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, Normandy, Ferguson-Florissant, Riverview Gardens, University City school districts, North Technical High School, Northview, Vocational Skills Program-North County sites

Jeff Schneider, Transition Effective Practice Specialist: 314.467.8170
TBD, Transiton Facilitator

  • Parkway, Pattonville, Ritenour, Rockwood school districts; Neuwoehner; Vocational Skills Program-West County sites

Sandy Kempf, Transition Effective Practice Specialist: 314.989.8258
Anne Carroll, Transition Facilitator: 314.989.8476

  • Affton, Bayless, Hancock Place, Kirkwood, Ladue, Lindbergh, Mehlville, Valley Park, Webster Groves school districts; South Technical High School, Southview, Vocational Skills Program-South County sites

Casey Wisdom, Director of Transition Services (District-wide): 314.989.8399

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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