This paper provides an overview of Project Panther PLUS (Postsecondary Learning for Universal Success), an inclusive postsecondary transition program for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) ages 22-26 at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, USA. With an emphasis on employment and independent living, Panther PLUS provides students with the tools needed to change their lives for the better, specifically in areas such as Self-Determination and Career Development and Employment. During the two-year program, students have the opportunity to participate in the STAR PCP (Students Transitioning to Adult Roles Person-Centered Planning) process in which they invite members of their support system to help plan their future by setting short-term and long-term goals around five transition domains (e.g. Campus and Community Engagement). Setting and committing to these goals are crucial for success in the program as students are required to participate in specialized internships and an intensive year-long independent living component during their second year. Unlike Panther PLUS, many postsecondary transition programs focus on younger student populations, usually between the ages of 18-21. When designing PLUS, it was imperative to consider the older population and its implications in terms of program design and support. Since these older students have been out of school for up to six years, we have learned, during our first year of implementation, that they often require more support and have modified the program design to better align student needs while still keeping with the primary goals of meaningful, paid employment and independent living upon graduation.
Jennifer Martin, Florida International University, United States
Diana M. Valle-Riestra, Florida International University, United States
Stream: Special Education, Learning Difficulties, Disability
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