Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


The transition from high school to adulthood is challenging for all youth, but especially for youth with disabilities. Youth with disabilities face a number of barriers to experiencing postschool success. Youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) in particular struggle to access employment and postsecondary education (PSE) after exiting high school. Recent research has focused on identifying means of improving postschool outcomes through transition services; however, much of this research examines the experiences of youth with learning disabilities, even though youth with ID appear to struggle the most with the transition to adulthood. The present qualitative study examined the perspectives of four transition service providers (i.e., teachers, a work coordinator, and a school social worker) in order to identify the barriers preventing transition-age youth with ID from accessing employment and PSE and to explore means of improving transition services to promote greater postschool success. A content analysis of participants’ interviews revealed a number of critical factors contributing to postschool success (e.g., work- related experiences, collaborative service delivery), barriers to postschool success (e.g., unrealistic expectations, inadequate work opportunities, lack of PSE options), and ways to improve transition services (i.e., build more community partnerships, develop more PSE options, change transition program structure). The findings of this study emphasize the need to further explore ways in which to establish and maintain a variety of community partnerships in order to better prepare youth with ID for adulthood, as well as the need to evaluate and further develop PSE options designed for individuals with ID. Implications for social work practice, policy, and research are discussed.

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