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STEPS serves students (ages 5-21) with severe and/or multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability, autism, orthopedic, traumatic brain injury, and medical health needs. The program is characterized by a low student:staff ratio, individualized special instruction, a modified curriculum, specialized equipment and materials, and a team of specialists providing additional instruction, therapy, and staff training and consultation to augment the variety of classroom-based services. Homebound services to STEPS-eligible students and extended school year services are provided. Specialists include nurses, speech/language pathologists, Regional service providers, and vocation/program specialists as well as supervisors who provide training and technical assistance to ESD and building staff. Districts provide classroom space/facilities, school day transportation, building-level administrative support, and custodial services.

STEPS Program Differentiated Models

The STEPS Program is now serving students in two differentiated classroom models which will focus more specifically on the individualized needs of students:

  1. STEPS CARE classes, and
  2. Transition class

View Models & FAQs

Model: CARE (Comfort, Attention and Response to Emergencies)
Purpose: To educate students with multiple/severe disabilities who have medically involved conditions in an environment that supports their independence in daily living, social, and motor activities
Focus: Visual, motor, communicative, and intellectual development
Specialists: Feeding and Swallowing Specialist, Augmentative Communication Specialist, Speech/Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Nurses, Vision and Hearing Itinerant Teachers, and Autism Consultants
# Educational Assistants Staffing will reflect the supports needed by each student. The staffing ratio is approximately 1 Assistant per 2 students
Curriculum Medically supportive environment with focus on regularly scheduled nursing procedures, emergency protocols, medication administration and feeding/swallowing protocols; consistent use and application of visual supports and assistive technology to support student independence in academics, social and vocational development


Model: Transition
Purpose: To educate post-high school age students with multiple/severe disabilities in order to support their education, employment, and independent living needs as they move into adulthood
Focus: Transition services
Specialists: YTP (Youth Transition Project) Specialist, Nurses, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Feeding and Swallowing Specialist, Augmentative Communication Specialist, Vision and Hearing Itinerant Teachers, and Autism Consultants
# Educational Assistants 1 Assistants per 3 students
Curriculum Focus on independence, functional life skills, and job experiences; consistent use and application of visual supports and assistive technology to support student independence; Person Centered Planning; integration with peers and community members to increase social, recreation, and leisure skills; collaboration with other service agencies; involvement of parents, family members, and other natural support systems

You may hear staff refer to the STEPS Program in general or refer to your child’s classroom as the STEPS CARE classroom, or the STEPS Transition classroom—all classroom titles falling under the umbrella of the STEPS Program.

Benefits of the differentiated models include more direct related service/special time for student instruction and staff training and support, and more focused curriculum and behavioral/Intervention approaches to address students’ individualized needs. Careful attention is taken to involve students in routine school activities and the regular education curriculum, and in Transition, appropriate community-based, life skills instruction and activities. In all STEPS classroom models, the IEP is the guide for student planning.

Q: Why are you making these changes? Who made the decision to change?
A: An examination of special education services, service delivery models, and costs by area superintendents and special education administrators resulted in decisions by some school districts to provide services to STEPS-eligible students in district-operated classrooms (instead of ESD-operated STEPS Program classrooms). The smaller number of students served by the STEPS Program led to restructuring the STEPS Program to serve groupings of students with more similar needs and patterns of behavior and development.

Q: Will I have to transport my child?
A: No. Special education transportation will be provided as it has been. Your resident school district is responsible for this element of your child’s special education services.

Why are some children going to STEPS classes and some going to a district class?
A: School districts make decisions each year about which special education services/classes they will provide directly and which they will receive from SOESD. Changes in service delivery by some school districts led to the changes in STEPS Program class locations as well as the differentiated models approach.

Q: Why is my high- schooler going to a middle school?
A: Because of the reduced numbers of students being served in the STEPS Program, it was necessary to change the age groupings to elementary (Kindergarten through Grade 6) and secondary (Middle and High School).


For more information, email:
541-776-8590 ext. 3137


Students enrolled in this program represent a distinct population of students, who present difficult and challenging behaviors. They have multiple, severe disabilities, cognitive deficits and/or significant medical/health needs. The disabilities may include developmental disability, hearing and vision impairment, communication disorder, orthopedic impairment, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment, autism and behavioral disorders. Students’ projected achievement level does not typically exceed 2nd grade benchmarks. These students lack social, behavioral and communication skills required for success in other self-contained life skills classroom placements. Their behaviors are so severe that they require a staffing ratio of 1:1. Some of the students may require a 2:1 or higher staffing ratio in order to keep them safe and provide safety for the staff and other students.

Programs for these students will focus on determining the cause of severe behavior and teaching skills to communicate, self-regulate and manage behaviors in a more positive way. The program is characterized by a low student-staff ratio, individualized special instruction, special equipment and materials, and a team of specialists providing additional instruction, therapy, staff training and consultation services. STEPS PLUS uses evidence based curriculum to teach fundamental behavioral communication goals (i.e. using picture cues to request), and it implements sensory strategies to help children tolerate typical environmental stimuli and adult-supported behavioral regulation. STEPS PLUS programming does not include ‘levels’ type of behavioral system appropriate for students with more sophisticated cognitive capacity. Focus is on teaching behavior management, social and communication skills to students, so they can function more independently and be placed eventually in a less restrictive environment, whether it is a regular self-contained life-skills class, community, recreation or a work program. It is understood that some students may continue to require the highly structured environment and 1:1 staffing to be successful in the learning environment.


For more information, email:
541-776-8590 ext. 3137


Download the STEPS Plus Referral Form

Long Term Care and Treatment (LTCT)

Long Term Care and Treatment (LTCT) provides education programs for students who have been placed by state agencies, school districts, or private placement in day and residential treatment facilities. The goal of Long Term Care and Treatment Education Programs is to provide a high quality, therapeutic environment where children will gain the behavior skills and abilities to function successfully in a non-institutional environment.


541-776-8590 ext. 3137

Transition Network Facilitator -Region V

The role of the Transition Network Facilitator (TNF) is to support the Governor’s Executive Order 15-01 to further improve Oregon’s systems of designing and delivering employment services for students with disabilities. The TNF works to support the collaborative efforts of Vocational Rehabilitation and Local Education Agencies in Oregon in the implementation of the Workforce Innovate Opportunity Act and the provision of Pre Employment Transition Services.


  • Offer technical assistance to educators for students with disabilities who are of transition age.
  • Develop strategies for successful team facilitation and planning.
  • Continue to develop relationships with community partners such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Developmental Disabilities Service, County Mental Health, family advocacy programs, etc.
  • Implement training and professional development for regional partners on policy and systems change.
  • Provide support to districts in understanding Pre-Employment Transition Services (PRE-ETS).
  • Provide Curriculum to check out and resources

Participating counties are Jackson, Josephine and Klamath.


541-776-8590 ext. 4814

For further information, visit the Transition Community Network.

Youth Transition Program

The Youth Transition Program (YTP) is a comprehensive transition program for youth with disabilities operated collaboratively by Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the University of Oregon (U of O), and local school districts statewide in Oregon. The purpose of the program is to prepare youth with disabilities for employment or career related post-secondary education or training.

Participants: YTP serves youth with disabilities who need additional support, beyond the services typically offered though the general or special education program, to achieve their secondary and post-secondary employment and continuing education goals. YTP youth are representative of all youth with disabilities nationally with respect to gender and primary disability categories; however, the majority of youth in the program experience a number of additional individual, family, or school system barriers such as poor academic skills, limited social and independent living skills, negative job experiences, and low levels of family involvement or support. Over 50% of youth currently served through the YTP live in low income families.

Pre-Employment Transition Services: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) – Creates the expectation that VR in collaboration with local educational agencies (LEA) shall provide or arrange for the provision of pre-employment transition services for all students with disabilities in need of such services who are eligible or potentially eligible for VR services. The 5 pre-employment transition services offered are:

  1. Job exploration counseling
  2. Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school or after school opportunities, or experience outside the traditional school setting (including internships), that are provided in an integrated environment to the maximum extent possible
  3. Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs at institutions of higher education
  4. Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living
  5. Instruction in self-advocacy which may include peer mentoring.



541-776-8590 ext. 4814

Visit the YTP website for more information

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