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Parents Learn about Post-High School Opportunities for Students in Special Education Program at “When the Bus Stops Coming” Workshop

The Office of Special Education hosted its annual “When the Bus Stops Coming” workshop on Saturday, Feb. 3, to provide families of students receiving special education support with information about services available for their students when they exit high school. 

The workshop featured a panel of students and their parents who shared about their participation in LCPS’ Community and Schools Together (CAST) program and Project SEARCH. Through both CAST and Project Search, students gain workplace and independent living skills by completing internships with local businesses. CAST is available to students who have graduated with an Applied Studies Diploma and can return to school through their 22nd birthday. Students can participate in CAST for multiple years. Project SEARCH is also available to students who have graduated with an Applied Studies Diploma and can return to school through their 22nd birthday. Project Search is a one-year program. Students who participate in Project Search are expected to exit the program for paid employment upon the completion of the program.

During the panel discussion, the four students shared about their work experiences and life skills gained through the programs. The students interned with local businesses, including Lansdowne Resort, Harris Teeter, Salamander Resort and Ashby Ponds Senior Living Community. Some of the life skills they spoke about included accessing transportation options and setting up and accessing bank accounts. 

One student panelist said, “Project SEARCH is a good program for those who still need help and are looking for job opportunities.” 

The student’s parent encouraged other parents to attend the “When the Bus Stops Coming” workshop every year “because things change year over year.” He continued by encouraging parents to ask questions, network and learn about all of the options available. “Take advantage of all the resources available and be flexible – you never know where your child is going to go.”

Other parents echoed this sentiment, encouraging parents to start job training skill development early and reiterating the need to take advantage of services offered to help parents and teachers learn more about their student’s strengths. 

Following the panel discussion, the workshop included presentations by the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services and the Loudoun County Office of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services. Participants also had the opportunity to learn more about services offered by area businesses and government agencies at a resource fair. Thirty agencies and businesses shared information at the adjoining resource fair. 

“The goal of ‘When the Bus Stops Coming’ is to provide an opportunity for parents to learn about the supports that may be available to their students when they exit high school,” said Jenna Arndt, Special Education Supervisor. “Many of our students will require some type of support into adulthood in order to navigate employment, continued education and independent living. This workshop allows parents to hear about what is available and how to connect with the agencies. We recognize that we share a lot of information, so we invite families to attend this workshop annually with the hope that they learn more each time they attend. It is never too early to start attending the workshop.”

If parents are interested in learning more about CAST or Project SEARCH, Arndt advises that each high school has a special education transition teacher who can provide information about these two programs. In addition, the Office of Transition Services is available to answer any questions.

Published February 16, 2024