Chapter 688 Referrals
Until your twenty-second birthday, the school district provides the majority of your services. Upon your twenty-second birthday, however, the school district abdicates this responsibility to various outside service providers. Chapter 688 is a law that addresses the needs of young adults who will lose entitlement to special education services but will continue to requires services to live as independently as possible due to a severe disability. You are automatically eligible for Ch. 688 services if you are receiving SSI or SSDI benefits from Social Security (We will discuss Social Security in the next chapter) or you are listed in the registry of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. If you are not automatically eligible, you may still be eligible for services if you are 1.) receiving special education services, and 2.) in need of continuing services because of the severity of your disability, and 3.) unable to work 20 or more hours per week in competitive employment. Once the IEP team determines you to be in need of continuing services, they will begin the referral process.
At least two years prior to turning 22, the IEP team will make a referral to an outside agency so that services may be provided to you upon completion of your special education program (Bureau of Transitional Planning, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, web 2 May 2010). You or your legal representative will need to sign a permission form so that the school can make this referral to an outside agency and send them your records and test results. The school district, once you have given permission, will invite representatives of outside agencies to your IEP meetings during the last two years of your secondary school experience to provide for a smooth transition from school to adult services. The human service agency will then write an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) that will include time lines, goals, and objectives to helping you become as independent as possible.
The ITP outlines the day, vocational, residential, and support services you may need and the agencies providing those services. (Bureau of Transitional Planning, web 2 May 2010). Human Services agencies providing services in Massachusetts are the Departments of Mental Health (DMH), Developmental Services (DDS), Social Services (DCFS), Public Health (DPH), and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (Mass. Rehab.). You may receive services from only one of these agencies. Your IEP team will determine which outside agency best fits your individual needs.
Bureau of Transitional Planning
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Department of Education
Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office