Keywords: Finland, young adults, intellectual disabilities, transition programme

On the Verge of Adulthood

The Finnish Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability (KVPS) has developed ‘On the Verge of Adulthood’, a transition programme for moving on from secondary education. KVPS works with young people and their families to set individual goals and develop a plan to achieve them in areas such as work, housing and further study. 434 young people have been supported since 2013 and KVPS is looking to expand this further.

About the practice at a glance
Name of OrganisationKVPS Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability
Type of organisationNGO
Country
of Implementation
Finland
Year started2013
Funding modelPublic funding (Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations -STEA)

IMPACT

We function nationwide in Finland, expanding to 3-5 new regions each year. Since 2013 we have not only created the model, but co-created it and worked together with:434 persons with disabilities, 757 family members, 505 professionals, 35 municipalities.

Most of the participants have expressed that the process was meaningful to them, they got new information, they were able to make their own life decisions or they were more certain on what they want to study in the future. Professional have said that they got new information and tools to work with families and plan the future together with them. Families and pupils have got a chance for peer-support and new friends.

Our targeted regions have incorporated specific practices, tools and forms of networking and begun the process of integrating them into their own practices. The model has had impacts, for example there are new housing opportunities for young people in some areas that we’ve been working on.

We are reporting the outcomes and impacts of our program yearly to our funder. 

THEORY OF CHANGE

We asked projects to outline their impact model (also called Theory of Change) – their main target groups, the key activities they offer these target groups, and what impact they want to achieve:

Target GroupActivityImpact
Young person with support needs
PCP – person centered planningHas a clear view on hopes, dreams and possibilities for the future after primary school.
Family members (also siblings)Peer-support & family coachingHas capacity to support the child with the future planning, is ready to “let go” as a parent, when the child is ready to become more independent
Supporters: school staff, disability services, authoritiesService DesignA clear plan for the future to which the authorities are committed to

REPLICATION EXPERIENCE

Our practice has been modelled and all activities are scalable and adjustable to the needs of the target region or group. The existing practice is our basis and core when we enter cooperation with a partner, but at the same time we are able to make amendments if required. People’s needs at the specific time are our driving motivator and we always adjust to the requirements at hand.

We are planning to replicate the work that we have done with families and municipalities since 2013. During the years we have been developing ideas through experimentation that has given us a lot of tools, operating models and innovations, but we do not have yet a model of the ensemble that we could replicate to other municipalities.

Our idea for the future is also to train other professionals that could coach the “On the Verge of the Adulthood” model in their own organisation and municipalities. We have been working with young people with support needs, families, schools and authorities all over Finland, but we wish to include more families and municipalities as well as professionals who would be interested in continuing the work in their own organisationsOur role is to find the key stakeholders, bring them together, help and inspire them to find shared goals and plan the future, so that the person with support needs and families are not been left alone when the primary school ends. Our role is also to share information of service design methods, available and possible services, housing arrangements etc.

ORGANISATIONAL CAPACITY AND STRATEGY

We are a nation wide non-profit organisation with our roots in parents associations. Quality work and scaling-up our innovations is part of our current strategy: for example our organisation is currently working on getting the ISO9001 standard. Our organisation has a specific development team which focuses on co-creation of support and services together with persons with support needs, families, municipalities and other stakeholders. The development team is a resource for our own organisation, but also for our stakeholders. Three members of the development team are also part of the board of directors. Our board members are mostly family members who share the ideology of supporting families and scaling-up our innovations to other families and stakeholders. Our organisation is also an active member of EASPD. Our activities and materials are available for everyone.

Petra Rantamäki, Partnership Director at KVPS, will be representing us in the program. She has gained 10 years of experience of the field working in KVPS, but even longer experience as a family member of person with support needs: https://www.linkedin.com/in/petra-rantamäki-a2868641.  

MOTIVATION

We have good skills in supporting families and bringing up the strengths of young people with support needs. We have a lot of information of the service system. We can inspire people working together and to co-create something that they would not do without us. We are always excited to develop something new with our partners. This is part of our organisational culture that we are proud of. However, we need support to model, replicate and document our work, tools and innovations. Our vision is that in the future we could model the activity and “train the trainers”, so that more families and municipalities could have “On the Verge of the Adulthood” processes in their own areas – with and without us. This would scale up the innovation, help larger group of young persons, families, schools and municipalities and it would also give us more resources on our development work. But before we can train others or share our innovations we need support in replicating and documenting – to share our vision and to gain visibility.

Our vision is to get a clear and simple model that is based on our years of work with the families and municipalities that is easy to share, easy to commit to, easy to communicate and train to others, who can continue our work. We are sure that by the program we would be able to scale up our innovation and to learn skills to do that which will be useful also in other parts of our work.