Funding Will Soon Expire for Programs Serving Students with Cognitive Disabilities

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College programs serving students with intellectual disabilities face an uncertain future, according to The Hechinger Report.

Across the nation, 281 colleges offer transition programs for young people with cognitive disabilities, such as Down syndrome. But federal funding that has helped finance many of the programs expires next year, forcing colleges to search for other options.

Some of the programs — which provide tailored academic and occupational training — “are looking to nonprofits or foundations for support, while others are considering scaling back staffing or raising fees,” Cate Weir told The Hechinger Report.

Weir is project director of Think College — a national organization that advocates for inclusive higher education options for students with cognitive disabilities. The group is seeking to bring attention to the funding crisis in part because the on-campus programs have proven so effective in helping students find meaningful work and independence.

A recent survey of participants from 25 different federally funded programs found that nearly two-thirds of graduates secured paid work within a year. Nationally, the employment rate for adults with intellectual disabilities is 19 percent.

College is the “perfect incubator” for young adults with disabilities, Weir told The Hechinger Report. “The skills they learn related to employment are important, but part of it is that their view of themselves changes,” she said. “It’s hard to measure, but it’s quite obvious when you see it. They talk more, they look you in the eye more.”

Read the full article and learn more about college programs for students with cognitive disabilities.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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