Transition to Adult Health Care

Transitioning to Adult Health Care

Young woman in a wheelchair talking to a young man

As youth get older they will need to transition from pediatric family health care to adult care. Youth with special health needs face additional challenges when making this transition that many of their peers do not have. There is an increasing awareness for the need to ensure youth with special health needs are able to make this transition successfully.

Our vision is that all youth with special health needs receive services necessary to access high quality and developmentally appropriate health care as they move from pediatric to adult care.

What is Health Care Transition?

“Health care transition is the process of changing from a pediatric to an adult model of health care. The goal of transition is to optimize health and assist youth in reaching their full potential. To achieve this goal requires an organized transition process to support youth in acquiring independent health care skills, preparing for an adult model of care, and transferring to new providers without disruption in care.” (Got Transition, 2015) Find more information on the March\April 2015 issue of Pulse, a monthly newsletter from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP).

It is important for all youth to be connected to programs, services, activities, and supports that prepare them to manage their physical, mental and emotional well-being and develop life skills to make informed choices. The ability to manage one's health is a critical factor in success in school and transitioning into employment. This is especially true for youth with life-long health conditions.

According to the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs only 47.1 % of Minnesota youth with special health needs receive the services necessary to make appropriate transitions to adult health care, work and independence. (NS-CSHCN 2009-2010)

The benefits of purposeful transition care include:

  • Provides youth with ongoing access to primary care and subspecialist care
  • Promotes competence of disease management
  • Fosters independence
  • Social and emotional development through teaching self-advocacy and communication skills
  • Allows for a sense of security for support of long-term health care planning and life goals.


Family Voices of MN: “Family Voices of Minnesota makes a difference for families by providing support, information and tools that assist in accessing needed healthcare services and navigating systems of care.” View the Transition Toolkit for tools and resources to assist providers, families and youth in making the transition from pediatric to adult care.

Got Transition/Center for Health Care Transition: “... is a cooperative agreement between the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health. [Their] aim is to improve transition from pediatric to adult health care through the use of new and innovative strategies for health professionals and youth and families.”

PACER: “The mission of PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families.”

Blind young man walking using a white caneDisability Benefits 101: “gives families tools and information on health coverage, benefits, and employment so that they can plan ahead and learn how work and benefits go together.”

CYSHN 2013-2018 Strategic Plan: Read the Strategic Plan that guides the work of the Children and Youth with Special Health Needs Section of the Minnesota Department of Health. Transition to Adulthood is Vision Element Number Six (pg. 30).


If you have questions about the information on this page, or about the Minnesota Department of Health's work on transition to adult healthcare, please contact us.