Youth Services

The transition from youth to adult – and from home to independence – is difficult for many individuals, and youth with disabilities face even more challenges during this period due to issues with accessible environments, health care, and a change from youth to adult-based services. Programs that assist youth with disabilities during these transition years – defined here as ages 14 -26 are vital in ensuring their independence.

Disability Network/Lakeshore offers a wide variety of youth programs that are offered in partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and the Bureau Services for Blind Persons (BSBP). Interested in learning if your child is eligible to receive services from either one of these agencies?
MRS – Holland : (616) 395-8495
BSBP – Grand Rapids: (616) 356-0180 

Students eligible for receiving services through one of our partners are able to participate in programs such as:

  • Self-advocacy
    1. Accessing College Supports  – explore the difference between high school and college
    2. Living Independently – rental basics, housing rights and responsibilities, financial literacy
    3. Self-Advocacy 101 – learn the IEP process and the importance of self-advocacy along with self-determination
    4. Self-Advocacy 102 – effective self-advocacy practices and personal responsibility in the workplace
  • Career Readiness
    1. Career Exploration – exploration of careers per students interests and post-secondary plans
    2. Get Hired, Not Fired – behaviors and actions necessary to become a good employee
    3. Beyond the Paycheck – in-depth exploration of taxes, deductions, and most importantly How to Read a Paystub!
    4. How to Get a Job – overview of the job search process
  • On the Job
    1. Work Experiences – gain a realistic perspective of a given career (job shadows, informational interviews, volunteering)
    2. This is the Job – up to 80 hours of hands-on paid work experience

DNL also offers services that are not dependent on a MRS or BSBP referral and may fit with students are attending Young Adult services or other programs:

  • Healthy Community Workshop
  • Social Security Benefits Training for parents and teachers
  • Budgeting
  • Safety in the Community
  • Knowing when and HOW to ask for an accommodation

What is an IEP and a 504 Plan?

IEP Defined

The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.

504 Plan Defined

The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.

Important Differences Between an IEP and a 504 Plan


Not all students who have disabilities require specialized instruction. 

  • For students with disabilities who do require specialized instruction, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) controls the procedural requirements, and an IEP is developed. 
  • The IDEA process is more involved than that of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires documentation of measurable growth. For students with disabilities who do not require specialized instruction but need the assurance that they will receive equal access to public education and services, a document is created to outline their specific accessibility requirements.

How is a Section 504 Plan Similar to IEP?

  • Evaluation
  • Accommodation on standard testing
  • Related services to assist in accessing regular education
  • Appeals made to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals BSEA

How is a 504 Plan Different from an IEP?

  • No progress reporting
  • Limited discipline protections
  • No stay put

Information from: