Family Transition Planning should begin by Age 14

One of the toughest things for families is to start thinking about “Transition to Adulthood” when their student is just in the midst of transition to adolescence!


Transition planning, from the family’s point of view, should begin at 14 years of age.  While the law was changed in 2004 to shift transition planning requirements from Age 14 to Age 16:

Transition. Congress made extensive changes to the legal requirements for transition. IDEA 97 required “a statement of transition services needs” (beginning at age 14) and “a statement of needed transition services for the child” (beginning at age 16). The statement of transition services needs at age 14 was eliminated.

Under IDEA 2004, the first IEP after the child is 16 (and updated annually) must include:

“…appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills … and the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching these goals. (Section 1414(d)(1)(A)) – See more at:

It still makes sense for families to start discussing the needs and goals of a student as early as possible. Start discussing with your student their ideas about life after High School and specifically the following “domains of adulthood.”

  • postsecondary education,
  • vocational education,
  • integrated employment (including supported employment),
  • continuing and adult education,
  • adult services,
  • independent living, or
  • community participation


Getting an idea of where your student wants to go in life will help you when it’s time to start putting transition goals and services into the IEP. If you don’t feel your student is ready to start thinking quite that far ahead, you, at least, can start to plan ahead. There’s a great resource at the Transition Coalition website, called the Parent Transition Survey.