School Transitions

Transitions (changes) in school settings are part of the educational process for all children. For children with special health care needs (CSHCN) or children with disabilities, this can bring added challenges as a student must adapt to different sets of services, assistants and therapists who work closely with them, settings and expectations. This type of change can affect sensory processing, behavior, communication, and progress for the student. Subtopics included are:

Role of the Medical Home in School Transitions

The medical home (see About Medical Home) can support and help students and families throughout school transitions by:

  • Sharing knowledge and recommendations with school staff about the health and educational needs of students
  • Helping families and school staff know student's abilities and set goals that push students and are achievable
  • Working with schools to get needed services or equipment
  • Advocating on the student’s behalf when needed
  • Helping to look at the pros and cons of other approaches to services and accommodations

The medical home may not know about some school services or policies and may not routinely plan for these transitions for their patients. Families can help partner with their medical home by giving information, sharing concerns, and asking for advice and help.

Privacy and protection of sensitive information must be kept in mind when communicating between schools and health care settings. Two sets of laws apply, most often referred to by the name of the legislations: FERPA (Family Educations Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act). Most schools and healthcare providers will need parental consent before they share information with each other. See the HIPAA/FERPA page for details.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: January 2009; last update/revision: April 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Gina Pola-Money
Reviewer: Tina Persels
Authoring history
2012: first version: Alfred N. Romeo, RN, PhDR
AAuthor; CAContributing Author; SASenior Author; RReviewer