The province is taking action to help young adults with special needs successfully make the transition from high school to independent living. The Department of Education and the Department of Community Services agreed today, July 14, to provide interim funding for the Access to Community Education and Employment program (ACEE) while the program’s operator, the Independent Living Resource Centre, tries to secure federal funding. The provincial funding will keep the Halifax-based education and employment program operating over the next year. The program will help up to 24 recent public school graduates with special needs obtain life skills, job development and employment training. It is designed to support young adults with special needs who do not yet qualify for adult social services after finishing high school. The federal government has been funding the program but has yet to commit to supporting the program for the next year. “This is an extremely valuable program and our funding means the program will go ahead in September,” said Community Services Minister Judy Streatch. “We will support the Independent Living Resource Centre’s ongoing efforts to obtain federal funding.” Education and Community Services will provide the Independent Living Resource Centre with up to $205,000 so it can continue to offer support to young adults with special needs. Over the past several weeks some parents of students with special needs have raised concerns over the lack of access to continuing education for their children once they graduate. Education Minister Karen Casey said it is important students have the opportunity to get the skills and training they need after they have fulfilled all their high school requirements and can no longer benefit from the school system. “This is an attempt to bridge those gaps in service so these adult students can reach their full potential,” Ms. Casey said. Lois Miller, executive director of Independent Living Resource Centre, said provincial funding will give her organization time to re-apply for federal funding. “We are working hard to convince Ottawa to continue funding this valuable program,” she said. “The centre and our clients are extremely pleased that the provincial government is helping to keep this program in place for at least another year.” “ACEE has offered youth with disabilities an important option to let them move confidently into employment or further education,” said Ms. Miller.