The P.A.C.E. Transition Program
Purpose of the Program: The P.A.C.E. Transition Program is designed to assist young men and women who are graduates of the P.A.C.E. Program in the next step toward independence. Adjustment to the broader world of work, apartment, and community life presents new challenges for most P.A.C.E. graduates. Maintaining a connection to the P.A.C.E. Program at this new level helps graduates to benefit from uninterrupted service and support in a familiar environment when facing new life challenges.
The P.A.C.E. Transition Program provides continuity and instruction for students as they build skills necessary for independent living. Just as the P.A.C.E. Program provides a bridge from high school to life in a university setting, the Transition Program provides a bridge from the more protected world of school to transitional living and independence. Students receive instruction in skills needed for increased independence. Skills first introduced in the P.A.C.E. Program, such as instruction to learn and reinforce concepts, problem solving, utilizing available resources, and practicing to gain proficiency, are broadened and extended to suit growing needs and more independent lives.
Length of the Program: The average stay in the P.A.C.E. Transition Program is three years with diminishing services. The first year in the program is the most structured and supervised, with students receive full time services. The second year provides full time services, but supervision is dependent on the student’s needs. but is less intense, as reflected in the lower tuition rate. The third year is usually a menu of services during which the students receive one to four services according to their continuing needs in Social group, Job support, Independent Living instruction, and/or Classes.
The Transition Program extends the P.A.C.E. philosophy. Instruction and encouragement are partner strategies to promote independence. Students are faced with new challenges, but are supported with familiar strategies to meet new needs.
The Transition Program allows students to enhance their independent living, vocational, academic and social skills with staff support in each area. Students are taught to safely live in the community, while experiencing a full life, including work, time with friends, apartment maintenance and integration in the community.
Admission to the Transition Program
The choice to join the P.A.C.E. Transition involves a process of assessment and decision making for students, parents and staff. Much of the curriculum during the second year of the P.A.C.E. Program is directed towards issues of independence. Students are asked to think about and plan for the next steps in their lives. The P.A.C.E. Transition Program is one option, but not the only option after graduation from P.A.C.E.. For some, the Transition Program seems to be a natural fit, while for other students, remaining in the familiar dorm setting while focusing on enhancing skills for independence feels more comfortable. In some cases, returning to home communities or moving on to other educational opportunities proves to be the best fit. Each student is considered individually, along with their family, in order to identify the most appropriate choice for life after P.A.C.E..
Many factors are considered in assessing each student’s readiness for movement towards independence. Taken together, they tend to be fairly reliable indicators, including:
- Employability - Two years of internship experience gives a fairly accurate picture of professional ability. Also considered in this area are: interviewing skills; telephone skills; advocating for one’s self in a professional context; and enthusiasm. To be truly employable, students need to be motivated to participate in their job search and feel a sense of responsibility to work
- Life Skills - Another emphasis in the P.A.C.E. Program is developing skills in budgeting, hygiene, housekeeping, organization, and time management. Although some skills are still developing, and support continues to be needed, the student needs to show some proficiency in life skill areas, along with an interest and motivation to function independently and to create a home for oneself.
- Maturity - A main focus in the P.A.C.E. Program is on problem solving. Making good judgments and decisions, asking for help, awareness of problems, willingness to accept ownership, trying a variety of solutions, and handling crises and emergencies calmly and appropriately are all indications of maturity. Students should be developing the ability to take the perspective of others, and to work to compromise and cooperate in the best interest of the group.
- Socialization - Skills in networking and planning with each other are helpful in the atmosphere of independent living. When living away from the group, students must be motivated and skillful in creating a social life. Students should be developing the ability to balance their lives, taking an active interest in play and fun, as well as work and responsibility.
A limit of 25 students are admitted each year. Admission to the program is based on an assessment of each student’s readiness in the areas of employability, life skills, maturity and socialization.
Students generally benefit from participation in the transition program for about three years. As they become more proficient in independent living, they need fewer services and can transfer the skills they have learned to another community, including their hometown.
Areas of Concentration
Students are evaluated quarterly in four areas of concentration:
- Apartment Living - Being able to “live on your own” is a major step in a student’s personal development. After moving into an apartment, an independent living instructor assists each student in areas ranging from bill paying, cooking and cleaning to dealing with roommates and landlords.
- Jobs - Students are helped and encouraged at all points during the job search—as well as provided assistance in adjusting to, and then keeping, a new job.
- Classes - Weekly seminar classes are held on campus and in students’ apartments to encourage a pattern of lifelong learning.
- Community - As part of the process to become members of a larger community, students are required to participate in volunteer projects, plan dinner parties and other social events, take a class off campus, and mentor new students.