VALLEY — The Transition Interagency Group Envisioning Realization of Self (known as “T.I.G.E.R.S.”), located in rural Colorado, began in 2002 to address “transition to adult life” for youth with disabilities. T.I.G.E.R.S. has grown to include a diverse group of community partners representing various aspects of life including school, work, recreation/leisure, independent living, and adult health care.
The team, which has received state and national recognition for its efforts, has learned to function as a fun, flexible, informed group, sharing the role of hosting meetings, traveling throughout the San Luis Valley to provide school trainings, and recognizing employers who provide employment to T.I.G.E.R.S. youth.
T.I.G.E.R.S. uses a Memoranda of Understanding to ensure that community agencies remain committed to the group and its mission even if individual members change. This level of commitment has allowed the group to be a valuable resource to the community for ten years without a specific funding source—a measure of success by any standard.
T.I.G.E.R.S. provides education, consultation, and technical assistance not only to families and youth but also to community partners such as school personnel, employers, and medical providers. T.I.G.E.R.S. has developed numerous materials and tools useful to others in emulating this work.
In support of TIGERS, a local interagency group, SLV BOCES contributes connections to schools, students and family members to provide opportunities for connection and information sharing. This connection provides a foundation for relationship building with post-secondary agencies and a means to begin long and short term planning for students to meet their post-secondary goals after they graduate from high school.
In addition, SLV BOCES provides instructional guidance to mandates from IDEA as they apply to local Transition to Adulthood IEP services.
Families and students benefit from gaining understanding on the impacts of the service they have been receiving and the service they are going into. SLV BOCES role in TIGERS is to support information sharing regarding the differences between public education and post-secondary supports and services for youth with disabilities. These differences and the impacts of these differences can be difficult to comprehend and plan for in post-secondary education, employment, community participation and meeting health care needs. It is imperative to support students with disabilities and their families as they make the shift to what it means to receive services that are not mandated and have differing eligibility requirements.
Blue Peaks Developmental Services provides services for persons with developmental disabilities in an effort to keep consumers as independent as possible. Services can start at birth and go through the life span. Services for adults include day programming, home and community services, supported employment and funds for dental, hearing, vision, therapies and adaptive equipment. Blue Peaks operates group homes in Alamosa and Monte Vista.
In support of TIGERS, a local interagency group, Tu Casa, Inc. contributes its experiences, expertise, and educational resources associated with serving child and adult victims of domestic violence, sexual assault/abuse, stalking, elder abuse and hate crimes. Since 1979, Tu Casa and its multiple valley-wide partners have worked to serve this vulnerable population with its free, bilingual, confidential victim advocacy, counseling and outreach services. Tu Casa’s role in TIGERS is to support information sharing regarding available services and resources for victims and their families, including the future Children’s Advocacy Center of the San Luis Valley (SLV CAC), a program under Tu Casa’s umbrella and supported by 24+ partnering agencies.
Trinidad State Junior College
TSJC’s role in supporting TIGERS is to assist the high school graduates continue their education at a post-secondary level. To receive services, students must provide documentation verifying eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), and Section 504 & 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students continue receiving student services through a collaboration of programs on campus (TRiO Student Support Services, Student Success Center, Financial Aid, Registration and Advising); and many of the agencies listed in the article. For more information, please call 589-7000.
The School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) is designed to provide employment-related assistance to youth and young adults with disabilities, who are experiencing mild to moderate barriers to employment. Disabilities can take the form of physical, emotional, or learning disabilities. SWAP provides assistance that not only produces a desirable employment outcome (such as a career-path job), but also teaches appropriate job seeking and job retention skills that can be utilized throughout a lifetime. SWAP has been involved with T.I.G.E.R.S for about 10 years and has been able to reach more individuals transitioning from Academic to Vocational. If you would like more information please call: 587-5410.
Division of Vocational-Rehabilitation
Across Colorado, too many workers with proven skills are currently left out of the workplace. As Colorado’s leading placement organization for people with disabilities, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is working to change this by bridging talent and ability so companies and employees succeed.
DVR is an active participant of TIGERS to provide youth and their parents with information on eligibility criteria of our program along with services that may be available to assist youth with identifying an appropriate employment goal and with placement into employment.
DVR is committed to helping our employer partners find candidates who are skilled, loyal, and committed to your success. Even after placement, employers and employees get ongoing support from DVR’s professional staff, including job training, guidance on the ADA regulations, and information on disability and employment guidelines. We can also help with financial incentives and facilitation of tax credits.
The Training Advantage (TTA) is a partner in the Colorado Workforce Centers in the South Central workforce region. TTA provides the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs for youth and adults, which focus on intensive employment assistance. The Youth program involves career exploration, work readiness support, job search assistance and occupational training opportunities for low income young adults between the ages of 17 and 21. Participants can be either in school or out of school, and are challenged by barriers such as being deficient in reading and math, being a high school drop-out, a parent, an offender, or runaway or homeless, or needing additional assistance to develop a post- secondary education and employment plan.
Department of Social Services
Chafee is an independent living transition program for youth offered by Alamosa County Department of Human Services. The mission of the Chafee Program is to teach independent living skills and offer assistance to youth who are/or have been in foster care or adoptive assistance care. Chafee offers workshops and some financial assistance, if necessary; however the main objective is to teach youth to live independent, stable, productive lives. This is all in hope and expectation that the transition to self-sufficiency will be a success.
Workforce Centers provide a variety of free services to assist employers and job seekers alike. These include: job listings, computer & internet access, career counseling & training for job seekers; and recruitment of workers, pre-screening & referral services, tax credits, and training reimbursement for employers. Customers can choose either self-service or staff-assisted options to meet their employment needs. (Website)
SLV Mental Health
Please see the T.I.G.E.R.S. web page at