Employment First Transition Framework

The Employment First Transition Framework is a results-oriented process that leads to individual community employment outcomes for youth with developmental disabilities. The Framework is a system of practices that are present at the state, regional, and individual levels that reflect person-centeredness, are agency neutral, and are outcome focused.

Individuals and service agencies regularly commit time and resources to activities that are meant to assist youth to prepare for and realize meaningful adult lives, including community employment. Service systems provide assistance that is intended to sustain the young adult as they move from the school years to adult living. Despite these efforts youth and young adults, especially those with more complex disabilities, continue to be unemployed, underemployed or in sheltered employment. Studies and follow-up data indicate that a significant number of youth with disabilities continue to fail to achieve productive engagement as adults.

Transition was first introduced into law in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1990 with the intent that, by fulfilling the requirements, youth would experience a seamless transition from school-based to adult services and supports. However, IDEA is education- based legislation. At this juncture in a youth’s life, a common multi-agency process is needed in order to achieve the outcomes of a meaningful adult life.  This common process should assist all professionals to plan, prepare, empower, educate, and connect across systems so as to consistently assist youth with disabilities to realize meaningful, community employment and other valued aspects of adult life.

This transition process was developed with a team of stakeholders to provide a common approach for transition planning and service delivery across systems that serve transition youth. The result is a Transition Framework that is built on the foundational elements that are person-centered, agency neutral, and outcome focused.

Watch an introductory video of Realizing Employment First for Youth: A Transition Framework

Download Employment First Transition Framework FAQ


Tools of the Transition Framework

The Transition Framework is NOT a procedure, form or a service. It is a process. To that end, tools have been developed for regions and individuals to use to facilitate planning and service delivery for effective Transition Planning.

Community Investment in Transition Youth with Disabilities Tool

The Community Investment in Transition Youth with Disabilities Tool was developed to assist agencies (including schools) and organizations that teach and support transition age youth with disabilities to prepare for adulthood. The tool is a self-assessment process that will guide the agency to examine their readiness and capacity to serve the transition needs of youth in community employment. The tool assists in the identification of areas for improvement and supports the development of a plan for improvement.

Download Investment Tool (PDF)

Download Investment Tool Guidance Document (PDF)

Quick Guide- Guiding Questions for Employment First Transition Team Development

Getting started with a local Employment First Transition Youth Team? Use these 10 guiding questions to help you get started with the development of a local or county Employment First Team for Transition Youth. This tool could also be used to double-check your plans to implement the Employment First Transition Framework for youth with disabilities in your school district or county.

Download Quick Guide

NEW RESOURCE: Evidence Based Practices and Evidence Based Predictors for Adult Success

Evidence Based Practices and Predictors are research-based strategies that focus on transition youth. These Practices and Predictors provide guidance to develop and improve youth skills for community employment and participation. The Practice and Predictors are useful to transition professionals across systems and in multiple environments.

Practices and Predictors:  Similar Terms but Different Uses

Evidence Based Practices are instructional methods and strategies proven through research to be effective to teach youth specific transition-related skills. The Practices can be used in a variety of settings, such as, classrooms, work sites, community environments, social settings, etc.   The Practices are useful to teach a variety of skills, such as those associated with employment, daily living, communication, academics, job-routines and tasks, independence, and workplace behavior.  

Evidence Based Predictors are activities, services and supports that occur during the school years that have been identified through research as being associated with higher rates of success as youth enter adulthood.   The Evidence Based Predictors provide regional teams with ideas for programs and services to build community capacity and investment in serving transition youth. 

The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) identified these sets of Evidence Based Practices and Predictors based on high quality research. The NSTTAC website (www.nsttac.org) provides the supporting literature, research methodology, tools, and links about the Practices and Predictors.

Employment First Evidence Based Practices and Predictors Tools

The Ohio Employment First Transition Framework includes tools to assist individuals and teams across agencies to understand, learn more about, and use Evidence Based Practices and Predictors. These tools provide a brief introduction to the practices and predictors and links to more information (including the NSTTAC website). Each document provides a review tool to help individuals and teams identify areas of strength and to prioritize need. Individual youth teams can use the tools to review the IEP and other agency documents to ensure that Evidence Based Practices are individualized and included. District or regional teams can also use the tools to help plan access to Evidence Based Predictors to improve post school outcomes. 

Download Evidence Based Practices

Download Evidence Based Predictors


Additional Resources:

Use the link below to watch the archived training from OCALI's Third Thursday about helpful tools for future planning - from the time your child enters school to when he's ready to move on to adulthood.

Transition Planning Tools


Watch the archived training from OCALI's Third Thursday training about  how to identify and discuss the evidence-based practices that promote a transition outcome of integrated community employment.

Employment First and the 8 Predictors of Transition Planning Success


Read this guide for how to determine what is the best option for each person after exiting school. This publication was co-written by members of the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT). YouthACT is a national initiative to get more youth with disabilities and their allies involved as leaders who partner with adults and organizations to improve opportunities for youth to succeed in life.

Hitting the Open Road After High School


This guide is for any student pursuing a degree or other type of credential (e.g., certification, license) at a two-year or four-year community college, college, or university. You will find information on a variety of topics relevant to preparing for and succeeding in college and transitioning from college into the world of work. Much of the information provided is relevant to all students, but the primary focus of the guide is on navigating the college experience for students with disabilities or those who think they may have a disability.

Making My Way through College


Transition Assessment Planning Guide

Transition Assessment is NOT a test, a set of tests or a protocol of tests administered to all youth during pre-set time periods or at certain grade levels. Transition Assessment is an ongoing process individually tailored to a youth’s needs that will yield information that answers specific questions about the youth’s skills, interests, needs, preferences, resources, etc. in relation to the youth’s desired adult outcomes.

All agencies responsible for working with transition age youth have a requirement to conduct assessment. Transition Assessment, it is a perfect opportunity for schools, community organizations, and adult agencies to work together with the youth and family to design and implement a plan of individualized transition assessment. This guide will assist multi-agency teams to plan together the assessment activities that result in meaningful, individualized, and important data.  By working collaboratively within a multi-agency team, transition assessment can be co-planned to eliminate duplication of assessment efforts and ensure each agency gets the assessment information they require.

Download Transition Assessment Planning Guide (PDF)

Download Transition Assessment Planning Guide (Word Version)

Watch an introductory video of Transition Assessment Team Planning Guide

Backward Planning Tools

Planning for the transition from school to the adult world requires a multi-year plan that bridges the transition from school-based to adult services. The Backwards Planning process provides a single plan, managed by a multi-agency team, designed to guide a young person through high school and into the first years of adulthood as they assume adult roles as an employee, a life-long learner and a community member.

Backwards Planning is just want the name implies: focus first on the adult outcomes for the youth’s future, then ‘plan back’ from there to the present in order to define a logical sequence of actions providing the youth with the instruction and experiences to achieve the outcomes.

Several tools have been created to assist team to backward plan. These include the Backward Planning Annotated template, a brief guide to each step of the process, a template to capture the team’s planning process, and a Facilitator’s Guide to assist teams to learn to use the process.

Download Backward Planning Tools (ZIP)

Download Backward Planning Tool (Word Version)

Watch an introductory video of Backwards Planning

Vocabulary Crosswalk

Transition teams consistently identify poor communication as a barrier to collaboration and successful transition planning among multi-agency teams. Agency words and terms can lead to misunderstanding, limit discussions, and prevent collaboration. The Vocabulary Crosswalk is a reference tool that can be consulted to clarify confusing vocabulary.

Download Vocabulary Crosswalk (PDF)

Agency Table

Youth, families, and transition teams will explore a variety of partner agencies to determine which agencies can offer support, services, and resources to assist the youth along the path to employment. This exploration can be overwhelming. To assist the navigation of these agencies, this multi-agency overview can assist team members with a place to start and a way to organize the information.

Download Agency Table (PDF)

Path from School to Employment Folder

This folder is a “conversation starter” with families and youth. It gives a broad overview of the possible steps, questions, services and decisions that need to be considered during the years of transition planning. Click here to order.

Download Pathway from School to Employment (PDF)

Watch an introductory video of Employment First Transition Framework Resource Tools

Profiles of Ohio’s Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Ohio’s Postsecondary programs deliver inclusive college experiences for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) that include internships, college classes, housing and social experiences that result in improved access to gainful employment.  

Download Ohio's Postsecondary Program Summaries