Students from Cape May County Special Services School District (CMCSSSD) help with retail and inventory at a new Community-Based Instruction (CBI) placement called Boardwalk’s Best, which was added this spring. The staff at CMCSSSD look forward to further expanding their CBI placements using this grant funding.

Seven New Jersey county special services school districts have been awarded funding from the state Department of Education to further support programs for individuals with disabilities ages 18-21. Each will receive between $1,071,420 and $1,428,560 to enhance transition-focused programming from June 1, 2024 through May 31, 2026. The New Jersey Department of Education recently developed this new grant, Maximizing Post-School Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, as an opportunity to maximize and promote positive post-school outcomes for students ages 18-21 with special needs.

Districts already share best practices as members of the New Jersey Joint Council of County Special Services School Districts. They have a framework in place that starts with partnerships. Working with local schools, community organizations and businesses, they have built programs that provide students ages 18 to 21 with opportunities to live and work within the local community. The programs are designed to help young adults achieve their own highest level of independence, whatever that may look like for them.

The new grant provides districts with up to $71,428 in additional funding per student, for up to 20 students, for the full 24-month project period. With the assistance of this grant, each district’s program receives additional funding to put toward:

  • Supplementary training for staff members, such as receiving a commercial driver license to transport students to different locations, or other professional development that would enhance services offered to students
  • Costs for hiring additional work-based learning coordinators and job coaches as well as stipends for staff members who supervise after-school activities
  • More field trips to employment and volunteer locations and expenses associated with increasing the number of job sites
  • Partnerships with local community colleges and adult education programs where young adults can earn industry certifications
  • Increased community-based instruction opportunities to provide valuable real-world experiences that promote independence
  • Teaching young adults to safely use public transportation and other forms of transportation in the local community

“This grant not only assists with creating more opportunities that are customized for each student’s unique needs and abilities, but enables districts to set up young adults with a solid foundation for the next phase of adulthood,” said Jamie Moscony, Joint Council Chairperson and Superintendent of Cape May County Special Services School District. “The grant extends each district’s ability to solidify a program or employment placement for students, through the use of job coaches and specialized supports, and also facilitate important connections between these young adults and local support agencies such as New Jersey’s Department of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Housing, and Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. The enhancements of individualized job training based on student needs will increase positive outcomes for our graduates who are aging out of our transition programs.”

The New Jersey Joint Council of County Special Services School Districts comprises districts from eight counties across the state: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Gloucester, Mercer, Salem, and Warren. The mission of the Joint Council is to promote the unique role of county special services school districts as providers of highly specialized placements for students with severe and multiple disabilities and cost-effective shared services for local districts.