Turning 22 - Dept. of Developmental Services

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Dept. of Developmental Services Turning 22 program funds services for eligible young adults with disabilities who have graduated from special education. This line item pays only for a share of services provided during the transition year in which the young adult turns 22.

When students with disabilities reach their 22nd birthday, they are no longer eligible for the services to which they were entitled under the state’s special education laws. Chapter 688 of the Acts of 1983 (the “Turning 22” law) provides that each young adult will have a personalized transition plan describing the potential service needs for this young adult, but does not guarantee that the Commonwealth will provide those services.

In FY 2009, the Turning 22 line item funded the array of supports available from the department for this cohort of young adults, including 165 adults receiving community-based residential services, as well as some adults receiving support for day and employment services, transportation, and family supports or respite. During that year, there were 618 young adults in all served by these various programs.

Over the past few years, the number of young adults graduating from special education eligible for services from the department has continued to grow. Funding, though, has not kept up with need. The budget was cut during the recession and has only been partially restored.

With growing caseload, increasing costs, and funding cuts, the department concentrates the majority of funding for community-based residential services (primarily in group homes) for only those determined to be most in need. These young adults typically have behavioral challenges as well as cognitive impairments and cannot live safely at home, or do not have families capable of supporting them (such as the young adults leaving the foster care system.) The majority of adults living at home receive far fewer services and much less funding - an average of less than $1,000 per person.

Updated February 2017

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