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Special Education

Chapter 688

As of September 1, 2017, the Bureau of Transitional Planning (BTP) no longer accepts Chapter 688 paper referrals on behalf of students with disabilities. This includes submissions directly to human service agencies as well as to the BTP. All referrals should be submitted using the new T22/Chapter 688 referral application which is accessed through the EOHHS Virtual Gateway. For more information, please go to the BTP website.

Chapter 688 ReferralWhy do it?

The primary goal of filing a Chapter 688 referral is to plan for needed adult services for students with severe disabilities. Filing a Chapter 688 referral creates documentation that students with severe disabilities will need adult services and supports. This documentation alerts Transition Agencies (e.g., the Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, the Department of Mental Health) and the state legislature regarding the future needs of these students. In cases where a student is determined to be eligible for agency services, yet services are not provided due to a lack of funding or program availability, agency personnel can advocate to increase funds in the budget planning process for the next fiscal year in order to provide the needed services.

Filing a Chapter 688 referral sets in motion a two-year planning process for students whose entitlements to special education services will end when they graduate from school or turn 22 years of age. This planning results in the creation of an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) that describes how the student will connect with needed supports and services after exit from school. This planning process can be particularly important if the student is not deemed eligible for state agency services, if agency services are limited because of lack of funding or program availability, or if formal coordination of services is required among more than one state agency.

Transition Agencies typically ask that the student complete an eligibility application concurrent with the 688 planning process. This is beneficial, because if a student's eligibility for services is established, the ITP can include more specificity with respect to the programmatic and fiscal planning required to provide services.

688 Referral ProcessAppropriate for which students?

Students who receive services in accordance with an IEP and receive SSI/SSDI and/or are on the registry at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) are automatically entitled to a Chapter 688 referral. Other students who may be appropriate for Chapter 688 referral are those students with severe disabilities who are in need of continued services and are unable to work 20 or more hours per week in competitive, non-sheltered, non-supported employment at the time they are ready to leave school.

Questions about a student's appropriateness for a Chapter 688 referral should be directed to the Disability Determination Division of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), 1-800-422-7200.

Refer 2 Years before Student Graduates or Turns 22

Only school systems can submit a Chapter 688 referral. A referral must be made at least 2 years before the student is expected to graduate from school or turns 22 years of age.

Specific guidelines on selecting a recipient Transition Agency can be found in the Chapter 688 - Guidelines for Referral document above. Districts are encouraged to review the guidelines and select a Transition Agency that provides the expertise and services that most closely address the student's areas of need. Districts are encouraged to contact the BTP if more than one Transition Agency seems appropriate or if further guidance is needed with a selection. As a final option, the referral may be sent to the BTP for routing to an agency.

Individual Transition PlanA planning document outlining needed adult services

Special education services provided while a student is in school are entitlements mandated by federal and state law. Chapter 688 is not a continuation of special education services and is not an entitlement to services. If a student has been referred under Chapter 688, an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) is required and written for each student.

The receiving Transition Agency case worker or service coordinator convenes and chairs a meeting which includes the student's education team, the student and/or guardian or family members, treating clinicians where applicable, and any other party the student sees as helpful to the transition planning discussion. The product of this meeting is a fully drafted Individual Transition Plan (ITP), which contains a description of the student's disability-related needs which will require support after exiting school, the agency or entity responsible for the provision of such services, the location at which such services will be provided, and the expected duration for the provision of services. According to the Chapter 688 law, ITPs must be developed no later than six months prior to the date the student exits school.


Appeals of Individual Transition Plans are made to the Bureau of Transition Planning (BTP). For more information, call BTP at 617-573-1600.

Last Updated: July 26, 2022

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