California State University, Northridge’s Family Focus Resource Center will host a conference exploring the options available to people with special needs who are transitioning from high school to the adult world, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at the Santa Clarita Activities Center.
“Transition to Independence: Creating Options for Individuals with Disabilities” is being organized by state Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley) and Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita, Simi Valley), along with the Family Focus Resource Center. Both legislators worked on bills promoting assistance for special needs programs in K-12 schools.
The conference will include discussions on such topics as state legislation impacting special education, employment options and more independence for children with special needs.
The Santa Clarita Activities Center is located at 20880 Centre Pointe Pkwy, Santa Clarita. Attendance is free, however, space is limited. To register for the conference, visit http://tinyurl.com/jfn9z9w.
Sen. Runner expressed her excitement for the upcoming event, saying it will shed light on the breadth of assistance parents can receive.
“The ‘Transition to Independence’ conference will provide valuable information and resources to parents getting ready to face the potentially difficult time of helping their special needs children grow into adulthood,” she said. “Assemblyman Wilk and I are excited about the opportunity to come alongside these families as they deal with this transition and work with them to support their children.”
Assemblyman Wilk added that he was looking forward to providing parents of disabled children a platform to have their voices heard.
“I’m excited to be joining Sen. Sharon Runner in hosting ‘Transition to Independence’ so we can ensure the voices of the developmentally disabled, and those who care for them, are heard and concerns understood.”
The daylong conference also will ease the minds of parents of disabled children, said CSUN special education professor Ivor Weiner, who works with the center.
“Families need to understand that their children can live productive lives and have the same opportunities that many other young adults have — to feel a sense of purpose and be valued as a member of society,” he said. “My hope for the conference is that we are able to highlight resources for families whose children are struggling with adult transition.”
Victoria Berrey, the center’s program manager, said parents — like herself — of special needs children often do not know where to turn for help. The conference will be a great resource for parents who want to learn about different ways to prepare their children for a more independent lifestyle, she said.
“I have two sons who are autistic. This impacts me personally,” Berrey said. “There are a lot of parents like me who have kids that are about to leave high school. We need information and guidance to figure out what’s next for our kids.”
Weiner added that the Family Focus Resource Center hopes to show a broadening field of opportunities for transitioning adults.
“While supports and services are [currently] limited, employers and educational agencies are adapting to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and we are hopeful that the unemployment rate of 80 percent for individuals with disabilities will be drastically reduced in the coming years,” he said. “Knowledge is power and we hope that this conference will bring a renewed sense of hope for our families and their children.”