A Brief Overview
- Person-Centered Planning (PCP) is a method for helping a person map out a future with intention and support.
- PAVE staff member Michele Lehosky, PCP facilitator, provided a training at PAVE’s Tools 4 Success conference in March 2020. Here’s a YouTube video from that virtual conference: Build Your Dream Map.
- Read on for more information about what Person-Centered Planning is like.
Everyone dreams about what they might do or become. Individuals with disabilities might need additional support to design the plans, set the goals and recruit help. The Person-Centered Planning (PCP) process is a tool that works like a Global Positioning System (GPS) to help a person figure out where they are starting and how to navigate to a planned destination.
A PCP session is a gathering that can happen in a specific physical location, such as a school or a community center, or in a virtual space online. The people who get together might include family members, friends, teachers, vocational specialists, coaches—anyone who might help brainstorm ways to plan an enriched, full life for a person of honor.
The first step is to celebrate the gifts, talents, and dreams of the person. Then the group develops action steps to help that person move closer to their dreams and goals.
Throughout the gathering, the attendees listen, ask questions, and draw pictures or write down words that contribute to the process. Respect for the person’s goals and wishes is a priority, and participants withhold judgment to honor the individual completely.
Person-Centered Planning explores all areas of a person’s life. All people experience various times in their lives that are transitions. High-school graduation is a major example. Job changes, moving to a new home, entering or leaving a relationship: Those transitions happen for individuals with and without disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities have some additional transitions. For example, when a person leaves the special education system of public education at graduation or after age 21, there is a change in disability protections. A student receiving special education is protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In adult life, the right to accommodations and non-discrimination is protected solely by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
There are specific transitions that occur for individuals who qualify for support from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), which in Washington is part of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Employment and workforce training programs often are part of the transition from high school into what happens next.
During major life transitions, many service agencies focus on a person’s inabilities or deficits. Person-Centered Planning, on the other hand, focuses on what’s positive and possible, based on the dreams and goals of the individual.
A PCP session includes a set of maps where information is collected in words and pictures. Here are some examples:
People in my Life
This map names important people and their roles in concentric circles. These are people that the individual trusts for help and support and may include paid and unpaid supporters. Those who are closest to the person are in the circles closest to the center of the map.
Who am I? My Story, My History
This map is built during the session to describe the person’s story from birth up until the gathering. This map reflects what is most important to the individual. The facilitator might ask:
- What parts of your life are important for people to know?
- What are some stories of your life that would be helpful for a coworker or a friend to know?
- Are you a sibling? A spouse? A parent?
- How old are you?
- What activities do you participate in?
- Have you had any jobs?
- Where do you live? Go to school?
- Do you have a medical concern that someone spending time with you might need to know about?
Likes and Dislikes
The “Likes” list includes favorites, things that make the person happy. Favorite colors, foods, activities, places, people are listed.
The “Dislikes” list includes the opposite of all those things and might also list triggers (bright lights, loud noises, angry voices, bullies) or other sensitivities.
What Works/ Doesn’t work
The first part of this map asks: When learning a new activity or skill, what are steps and learning tools or activities that work for you? Answers might look like these examples: frequent breaks, accommodations, a written schedule, a list of duties, instructions in larger print, a preferred time of day to start something….
The second part asks: When learning a new activity or skill what activities do not work for you? Answers might resemble these examples: waiting in line, too many instructions, too many people barking out orders, standing or sitting for too long, verbal instructions, unclear expectations….
Gifts, Talents and Strengths
This map asks several questions:
- What are you good at?
- What can you do that is easy for you?
- What are your best qualities?
- What do people like about you?
Examples for answers: best smile, cleaning, giving, caring, natural dancer, very social, great with computers, good with numbers, great at sports, good listener, good with animals, etc.
The My Dreams map asks: Where you would like to see yourself in a few years? Follow-up questions:
- What will you be doing?
- What would your dream job be?
- Where are you living?
- Do you live on your own or with family or a roommate?
- How are you keeping in touch with your friends?
- What is an action you can take to move toward your dream or goals?
The Nightmare Map asks: What do you want to avoid? Follow-up questions might include this one: Where do you not want to be in a few years? This is not to make the person feel bad but to make an out-loud statement about what the person doesn’t want to happen. This can include actions or thoughts that someone wants to avoid.
The Needs map asks: What do you need help with to avoid the nightmare? A follow up question might include: What areas do you need support with? Answers might look like these examples: budgeting money, learning to drive, training to ride the bus, cooking lessons, looking for a job. The goal is to recruit support to help the person stay away from the nightmare and work toward the dream.
A map that show Action Steps includes the specific help that will assist the individual in moving toward the dream. This chart typically details what needs to be done, who will do it, and by when.
Goal: To Write a Resume
What: Call Mark to ask for help.
By When: Next Monday, April 6, 2020
This process involves many support people in the person’s life and identifies, in a self-directed way, areas where help is needed to meet personal goals. The gathering involves the important people in someone’s life because they can help through the process and step up to offer support for the action steps.
How to get a Person-Centered Plan
Here are places that might help you find a PCP facilitator in your area:
- Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
- School District
If you live in Pierce County, Wash., PAVE offers PCP facilitation. Please fill out a Helpline Request Form at wapave.org and ask for PCP support. One of our coordinators will contact you.
Here are a few additional places to seek information about Person-Centered Planning:
The Washington State Legislature passed a law in 2019 that changes graduation requirements and may impact students who receive special education services. House Bill (HB) 1599 changes the rules about which tests students must pass in order to graduate and how they can earn a diploma.
The new law removes the direct link between statewide assessments and graduation requirements by discontinuing the Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) after the graduating class of 2019 and the Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) after the graduating class of 2021.
Students in the class of 2020 and beyond will need to demonstrate career and college readiness through one of eight graduation pathway options that align with the High School and Beyond Plan, a requirement for all Washington students. The High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) is expanded by the new law, and districts will be required to provide an electronic HSBP platform available to students beginning in 2020–21.
After-high-school plans are a critical aspect of the Transition Plan written into a student’s individualized Education Program (IEP) by age 16, and the expansion of the HSBP provides for improved alignment between these future-planning tools.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the agency responsible for oversight of all public schools and non-public agencies in Washington State. OSPI maintains a website page with information about graduation requirements. Visit OSPI’s Graduation Requirements page for compete and updated material. The page includes a link to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
This article provides a brief overview of the new requirements, and parents can take this list to an IEP meeting to ask questions and create a plan to ensure graduation success. For more general information about planning for the transition from high school, take a look at a Recorded Webinar on PAVE’s website and/or read an article called Tips to Make a Well-Informed Transition into Life After High School.
Class of 2019, Take Note!
Some students in the Classes of 2014 through 2019 may be eligible to have their assessment graduation requirements waived in English language arts (ELA), math, or both. The Expedited Assessment Appeals Waiver requires that the student show that he/she has the skills and knowledge to meet high school standards and possesses the skills necessary to successfully achieve college or career goals established in the High School and Beyond Plan.
Students may use one of the following to meet the assessment graduation requirements:
- Graduation standard on Smarter Balanced or WA-AIM (ELA and math)
- Passing a dual credit course
- Passing a Bridge to College course
- ACT or SAT score
- Advanced Placement score
- Passing Locally Administered Assessment (COE-Local)
- Grades Comparison
- CIA cut-score on Smarter Balanced (“L2 Basic”) (for some students with disabilities)
- Locally Developed Assessment (LDA) (for some students with disabilities)
- Off-grade assessment (for some students with disabilities)
- Expedited Assessment Appeals Waiver
Further information about the waiver is provided in an OSPI Bulletin.
Class of 2020: What will change?
Students will need to demonstrate readiness for post-secondary career or college via one or more pathways. Students in the Class of 2020 will also have access to a waiver. The pathways available to the Class of 2020 are:
- Graduation standard on Smarter Balanced or WA-AIM (ELA and math)
- Dual credit
- Bridge to College
- C+ in AP, IB, or Cambridge class or achieving certain score on AP, IB, or Cambridge tests
- ACT or SAT score
- Also, if completed during the 2018-19 school year: Locally Administered Assessment (COE-Local) This option is not available in 2019-20.
Students must demonstrate skills via a pathway for ELA and math. The above options can be used interchangeably to meet both requirements.
Tips to Make a Well-Informed Transition into Life After High School
A Brief Overview
- Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) need to have a Transition Plan written into the IEP by the school year when they turn 16, but it’s never too soon to start talking, planning and envisioning the future.
- Students can stay in school until they are 21—an option for youth who need more time to learn and prepare for adulthood. The IEP team determines a projected graduation date and writes this date into the IEP document.
- Transition Services in the IEP can support a High School and Beyond Plan, Washington State’s toolkit that is a state requirement for all students to get ready for next steps. Various state agencies serving transition-age youth provide a comprehensive guidebook that describes how to align the HSBP with IEP Transition Planning. Included are career-planning tools and linkages to current information about graduation pathways, which changed in 2019 when the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1599.
- In Washington, a student takes charge of educational programming at 18 unless other arrangements are designed. Read on for more details.
- See our companion articles about Student-Led IEP meetings and a new option for pre-employment support through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
Senior year is loaded with projects, planning and a big push to finish requirements and figure out what happens next. For students with special needs, there can be a few extra steps, and it’s never too soon to start thinking and planning for this important transition.
Here are some practical tips and a range of resources to help youth and families make well-informed decisions.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) must include a Transition Plan with individualized Transition Services by the school year in which a student turns 16. Best practice is to start planning for this in seventh or eighth grade, as outlined in the state-required High School and Beyond Plan. If you are starting later than that, don’t worry! Get started now, and your efforts will certainly reap benefits into the future.
When a Transition Plan is added to an IEP, consider that this life-after-high-school planning now focuses the IEP on post-secondary goals and outcomes. Helping the student engage with the IEP team in conversation around these three questions can help direct planning and school supports that will help the student reach the written Transition Plan Goals:
- Where am I now? (strengths, interests, capacities—the Present Levels of Performance in the IEP)
- Where do I want to go? (aspirations, dreams, expectations—Transition Plan Goals in the IEP)
- How do I get there? (transition services, courses, activities, supports, service linkages, community connections, help to overcome barriers—Annual Goals, Accommodations and other provisions included in the IEP)
The graduation standards for a student eligible for special education are the same as for all other students. In our state, a district’s flexibility in determining how a student fulfills those requirements comes from the Washington Administrative Code (WAC Section 180-51-115). Each school district will have its own policy for implementing these state rules, and you can request a copy of your district’s policy. If there is any confusion, you can encourage the school to consult the district special education office for guidance.
In short, the student’s IEP team determines how the student will meet graduation requirements and how long she/he will stay in school.
A student doesn’t have to graduate at the end of a traditional senior year. A student remains eligible for special education until graduation requirements are met and the student has earned a high school diploma (WAC Section 392-172A-02000). However, a school does not have to hold back credits for a student to remain eligible. The student’s IEP team determines the student’s graduation plan, including the planned graduation date. The student could potentially meet all graduation requirements, but if the IEP team has determined that the student needs further schooling to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), then the student has a right to stay in school to age 21.
In the meantime, a student can participate in commencement ceremonies at the end of a traditional senior year, with peers, under a Washington provision called Kevin’s Law. Students and families should communicate with a special education teacher, case manager or school counselor to ensure that all information about graduation and senior year events is clearly understood and shared. Plan early for needed accommodations at senior year events.
When assessing the Transition Plan in the IEP you can ask these questions:
- Is the plan age appropriate?
- Is information provided by more than one source?
- Do the post-secondary goals consider all areas of life after high school, including employment, further education, independent living and community engagement?
- Are the goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely?
- Is a target graduation date included in the IEP?
In Washington State, the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has provided a guidance document for all students called the High School and Beyond Plan. You can access that plan and the state’s graduation requirements on OSPI’s Website.
For Special Education students, the plan is not replaced but can be further supported by the plan that includes Transition Services in the IEP. Each school district determines the precise guidelines for students to meet the requirements of the High School and Beyond Plan, and some schools use tools with different names. Becoming familiar with the state-recommended format and then comparing this tool to your school’s requirements and the student’s specific IEP programming is a good way to participate in making sure your student has a robust plan.
A student takes charge of educational planning and programming at the Age of Majority, which is 18 in Washington. According to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC Section 392-172A-03090), “Beginning not later than one year before the student reaches the age of 18, the IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of the student’s rights under the act, if any, that will transfer to the student on reaching the age of majority.”
Parents have a few options if they wish to continue to have rights to participate in their child’s education:
- Guardianship (org)
- Power of Attorney (Washington State Legislature)
- The student can choose to include “other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student” on the IEP team (WAC Section 392-172A-03095).
- Another option is supported decision-making. Informing Families has a helpful tool for designing this voluntary, informal plan.
Families will want to clarify what specific roles and powers parents will retain under the arrangement designed by your family and the school. The special services office at your school may be able to help with this; without legal guardianship or Power of Attorney your student will need to sign consent for you to attend meetings and participate in decision-making.
Regardless of the arrangement, families will want to have some conversations to help a student envision a future and start to see how to get there. A variety of tools are available, including these:
- OSPI’s Guide to Transition Services
- Person-Centered Planning: PAVE has a video and an article about PCP
- PACER Center’s Guide to Preparing your Child with a Disability for Life Beyond High School
- Informing Families High School Transitions Toolkit
- Transition Coalition Workbook
For youth who struggle with behavioral health challenges, transitions can trigger some additional challenges. These resources may provide some helpful tips:
- PAVE’s article about the transition to adult services
- Pathways Research and Training Center
- CASEL Core Competencies
Another resource that might help with planning is the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Each school is assigned a DVR counselor to assist with pre-employment training. You can look up the name and phone number for your school’s DVR counselor online through a link provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. A new option for youth and families to receive pre-employment counseling is from a program called Foundational Community Supports. Check out PAVE’s companion article about this program.
Good luck with your planning! If you need more specific support unique to your situation, get help from one of our Parent Training and Information (PTI) resource coordinators by filling out a Help Request Form or by calling 1-800-572-7368.