As your children enter the high school years, parents and teens are faced with the next chapter of life. In Massachusetts, students with more severe disabilities should file a Chapter 688 which documents the need for continued support and services. The goal is to provide two years of coordinated planning for students whose entitlements to special education services in the public setting end when they graduate from high school or turn 22 years of age. Only one referral per student can be processed.
Students who receive services in accordance with an IEP and receive SSI/SSDI are automatically eligible.
Additional criteria includes students who are on an IEP or a 504
Have a severe disability and are in need of continued services
Inability to work up to 20 hours per week in competitive, non-supported place of employment
Students who receive services from DCF or DYS
How does the referral process work?
The school system determines if a student is eligible and works collaboratively with families and at individual agencies to coordinate services that may be available at the end of school.
The referral MUST be made in this timely manner due to funding and planning through the state. This 2 year lead time allows agencies to anticipate the cost of services which is submitted before the legislature each year. Filing late can jeopardize funding availability and limit services.
One of the biggest differences that can affect what services can be offered is entitlement vs. eligibility. While enrolled in school, students receive special education services because they are entitled to a variety of services to help them learn as mandated by federal and state law.
Upon graduating or turning 22, students are no longer “eligible” for the same services. However if an agency has received a 688 referral and a student meets their eligibility criteria, services may continue and will likely be different from what they received through public education. Services are based on availability and eligibility.
Resources include DDS, MRC, DMH, MCB and DCF
Chapter 688 isn’t a continuation of special education services or an entitlement. If a child meets the 688 eligibility requirements, an ITP, Individual Transition Plan is required and written for each student by the agency who determined eligibility. The school personnel, parents, student and appropriate agencies work together find available services which are dependent of annual state budget.
Amy Bond, M.S., OTR/L
Career Resources and Training:
Job Corps. Massachusetts Job Quest, The Haverhill Career Center
Adult and Youth Services:
A-Snap- Social Programs, Autism Housing Pathways, Cambridge Family and Children’s Services, Northeast Arc, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, Partners for Youth with Disabilities