Former Board Members

Former Executive Director

Voices: Donald Bailey

Testimony before the SC General Assembly’s Higher Education, Tech and Cultural Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee on January 31, 2007

Donald A. Bailey, Board Chair of CTC: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you very much for this opportunity to speak with you today about an exciting new opportunity for students with disabilities in South Carolina. I am the chair of CTC [College Transition Connection], a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding education, employment and independent living opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities…

We have raised a total of $300,000 in donations and pledges of support, and we request $300,000 from the state to develop a model post-secondary program for students with intellectual disabilities. These are students with significant learning, cognitive or developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation. These students qualify for special education services until they turn age 22. However, they do not have the opportunity to participate in post-secondary education with students their own age where they can learn the social, academic and vocational skills needed to be successfully employed and live independently.

What happens to these students after they leave school? According to a federal report, 92% are not employed. The cost to the taxpayer can be as much as one and a half million dollars for an unemployed individual with significant disabilities from age 22 to 65. Unemployment, long waiting lists for housing and employment supports, isolation and living at home with aging parents is typical.

However, with education and the right support, these young people are very capable of learning, working, being a part of their communities and becoming taxpaying citizens. A new wave of post-secondary programs is emerging for these students across the country. Currently there are over 110 such programs in 28 states. Research is showing that students who participate in these programs are much more likely to become employed, live independently and participate in their communities.

CTC has formed a partnership with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), an organization that is taking a leading role in supporting the development of these post-secondary programs. NDSS has helped to connect us to national experts who are providing technical expertise in developing a model program here in South Carolina.

NDSS and CTC have established a Task Force of distinguished experts, including parents, individuals with disabilities, institutions of higher education, educators and state agency administrators who have extensive knowledge of transition and post-secondary education.

Our Task Force has created a partnership with three colleges in the Charleston area—the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern University and Trident Technical College—and we are reaching out to other colleges in the state. We plan to develop a model pilot program. After two years of operation, the model program is anticipated to be self-sufficient through agency funding and tuition. Technical assistance material will be developed that will help other colleges in South Carolina develop similar programs.

After researching successful programs, this Task Force developed guidelines to follow in developing a model program. The program will include academic enrichment, independent living skills, socialization, opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities and vocational experiences leading to competitive or supported employment. Students will participate in a mix of special classes and regular classes with support. Students will earn a certificate when they finish the program.

An exciting part of this project is the opportunity to help train future special and general education teachers. College graduate or undergraduate students majoring in education, special education and related fields will participate as teaching assistants, peer mentors, job coaches or in other roles. This will be invaluable training.

The funds we are requesting from the state will support the development, start-up costs and evaluation of the model program; development of technical assistance information for other colleges; and coordination among state and local agencies. We will also hold a Roundtable on Developing post-secondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities. This roundtable will be jointly sponsored with the University of South Carolina Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. This center, located in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Center for Disability Resources, is partnering with CTC in this project. At the roundtable we will bring together key national experts with leaders in South Carolina higher education, state and local agencies, parent organizations and students with disabilities. Highlights of successful programs, technical assistance in program development and collaboration will be discussed.

In the attachments to my written testimony I have provided data, research, and background information that I hope will be helpful. Please let me know if you would like any additional information.

In conclusion, those of us who have children with disabilities want the same thing for our children as everyone else wants—the opportunity for them to be educated, to work, to have friends and to live in the community. We ask for your support in making this possible. Thank you again for this opportunity to speak to you today.

« Back to Voices