1. Organizational Setting - The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities has developed and, if funded, will implement, with assistance from other entities (LIFE of MS; Title V CSHCN program, etc.), a statewide project entitled “Healthy Futures: Adolescent Transition in Mississippi.” The Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities is a statewide, consumer-controlled, non-profit organization established in 1989 and composed of 28 cross-disability constituent organizations representing the disability community throughout Mississippi. Activities are directed by a Board of Trustees composed of a majority of individuals with disabilities and their families.
2. Purpose - Healthy Futures will provide the catalyst to establish a strong, responsive system of transition services for adolescents with special health care needs (ASHCN) in Mississippi, bringing together diverse groups and individuals, building community infrastructure, and resulting in successful transition to adult health care, employment, and independent living.
3. Challenges - An examination of Mississippi’s socioeconomic and health care statistics reveal the greatest challenge in providing health-focused transition services to Mississippi’s large number of young people with special health care needs Mississippi, one of the poorest and most rural states in the nation, has more health problems and disability, and less health insurance than other states. Other challenges include fragmentation in service delivery, lack of communication among service agencies, transition planning which emphasizes employment and education goals but does not stress health care or independent living skills, and lack of coordination and knowledge of exemplary programs across the state with large regions of the state having little or no transition programs in place, particularly ones that emphasize health care.
4. Goals and Objectives - The goal of Healthy Futures is to establish and fully implement a replicable model system of comprehensive, family-centered, culturally competent transition services, with a primary focus on health, which prepares adolescents with special health care needs in Mississippi to make successful transitions to adult and community life including adult health care and related services, employment, and independent living. Objectives of this project are (1) Mississippi adolescents with special health care needs receive services necessary to make successful transitions to adult and community life including adult health care and related services, employment, and independent living; (2) Families of adolescents and children with special health care needs receive training and on-going support services to help them and their CSHCN confidently transition from a pediatric health care setting to adult health care providers; and (3) Health care professionals and service system agencies receive training and support equipping them to facilitate successful transitions for adolescents with special health care needs from pediatric care to adult health care providers.