What is Transition?

Transition is the period of time when a student prepares to move from life as a student to life in the adult world. For students with developmental disabilities this means planning not only training and careers, but also identifying adult service providers. Maryland students are entitled to a free, appropriate and public education. Students with disabilities receive this entitlement until they complete the school year in which they turn 21; after this—eligibility and availability of funds determine services. Finding adult service providers is the responsibility of the student and the student’s family.

What is The Governor’s Transitioning Youth Initiative (GTYI)?
GTYI helps people with disabilities work and contribute to Maryland’s future after leaving school. GTYI offers Supported Employment Services and Day Programs through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

Who is eligible?
A student qualifies for services through the GTYI if he or she has a developmental disability, and transition services have been written into his or her Individual Education Plan (IEP). The student becomes eligible for service between his or her 21st and 22nd birthday, or if the date of graduation or exit from school is after the student’s 21st birthday, the student is eligible for one year from the graduation or exit date.

How do I obtain services?
Families should help students apply for DDA services by the age of 14. If you are over age 14, please apply immediately. The most effective way to apply is to coordinate your efforts through your local school. You can also call the DDA regional office at 301-362-5100, or click here for more information about DDA’s role in transition.

Work with the IEP Team to make sure transition services are written into the IEP by age 16. The student will not be eligible for the GTYI program unless services are written into the IEP.

Families should gather as much information as possible about the transition process. The Arc of Prince George’s County offers a Transitioning Youth Series that walks families and youth through the transition process. Workshops include introductions to the Developmental Disabilities Administration, Social Security Benefits, Housing, Employment Opportunities, Futures Planning, and more. The Arc, Resource Connections, and Prince George’s County Public School also have a collaborative program: Ready At 21. This three-part series prepares high school juniors and seniors to lead service provider interviews, IEP and IP meetings. Students learn the principles of Self-Awareness, Self-Determination, and Self-Advocacy. Call The Arc at 301-925-7050 for more information of check the calendar of events for upcoming session times.

Students can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) one month before their 18th birthday by calling 1-800-772-1213. Visit their website at The student becomes an adult at age 18, and the family’s income is no longer considered for eligibility purposes.

Students should apply to the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS) before their last year of school. Visit the DORS website at or call 1-888-554-0334 to apply.

Your family should begin interviewing multiple local service providers during the last two years of school. Find a provider with which your family feels comfortable and who offers programs that fit your needs. Click here for a listing of DDA regional providers in Maryland.

What is the LEAP Program?
Life Enrichment Awards Program (LEAP) jumps into action at The Arc! The LEAP grant, sponsored by the HSC Foundation, provides goods and services that are usually not available from public service and government agencies, and are directly linked to transition planning and implementation. Funds may be used for a variety of purposes including: Career Related Courses, Equipment, Business Attire, Job Exploration. Eligible applicants with a disability must be between the ages of 14-26 and may NOT have received a LEAP Grant within the last 3 years. For more information please contact Deborah Goins at or 240-532-6001. Download an application.

Click here to download a copy of the Transition Planning Guide from the Maryland Department of Education.

Click here to visit the Maryland Transitioning Youth website.