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Executive Ulman Launches Effort to Assist Youth with Disabilities in Transition from School to Workforce and Post-Secondary Education

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has launched an initiative to assist youth with disabilities in their transition from secondary education to the workforce and to more advanced training. County Executive Ulman has created the Howard County Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities, through an executive order. The Transition Council is comprised of 35 members who will oversee strategic recommendations, developed by an earlier workgroup created by the Howard County Public School System, that explored ways to improve post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities.“We need to create a seamless system so that young people with disabilities reach their full potential as adults,” said County Executive Ulman. “We need to show employers the value that these new workers bring, and we need more training opportunities.”

Headed by Judith Pattik, Coordinator for Special Education with the Howard County Public School System, the Transition Council began meeting in June.

“The work we are embarking on is very exciting given the breadth of knowledge, experience and passion of the Transition Council members.  I am certain we will realize powerful outcomes as we create new and customized options for our students as they transition from school to college and careers,” Pattik said. “We are most appreciative of Executive Ulman’s support in recognizing the importance of this work.”

Under the executive order, the group will create a transitioning plan that coordinates county and state workforce reform efforts, looks at performance outcomes and examines needs of cross-agency training and technical assistance.

“Families that have a child with special needs often face a question mark when they plan for their child’s future.  I think that the County Executive’s initiative will help Howard County families to find better answers,” said John Hussman, a member of the Transition Council who has a 19-year old son with autism.

Howard County Council Chairperson Jen Terrasa said that the Transition Council will “help the community address an important need. We can’t let young people fall through the cracks, and parents need to know that resources are there to help.”

An advocate on disabilities issues, Howard County Councilman Greg Fox added: “This is an extremely important and needed initiative for these children and their families.  I encourage the Transition Council to look at the needs of not just young adults in the workforce, but those who for whatever reason aren’t able to take that step.  We need resources for a broad spectrum of people with disabilities.”

The Transition Council includes nine representatives from the Howard County Public School System, six representatives from Howard County Government, six parent and student representatives and other members from non-profit organizations.  The Transition Council is to deliver a report to the County Executive by June 1, 2014.

To view the executive order, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/Executive.gov.