Does your youth with disabilities know what job he or she wants after high school? How about how to get that job? Or does your youth know what job skills are needed before applying for a job? The Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, otherwise known as Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), provides a wide variety of individualized services to people with disabilities who need assistance getting a job or going back to work.
Often it can be scary for a youth and his or her parents as the youth leaves high school. Having a VR Transition Counselor involved in transition planning as early as 16, helps youth and parents build a relationship with the counselor. The counselor will help a youth and his or her parents understand the services they may receive, build trust, and feel confident in transitioning into adulthood. Transition Counselors can help make sure youth have everything planned out, and all the steps in between taken care of, so youth have a game plan right when leaving high school, rather than having at graduation added anxieties, such as “where do I go from here?”=
The beginning of high school is when a youth and his or her parents should start planning what the youth will do after finishing high school. Youth will have time to learn about and try different career choices. Decisions the IEP or Section 504 Team make together at the beginning of high school affect how well prepared your youth will be when he or she leave school. Remember, youth can start working with a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor starting at 16 years old!
Services Offered to Students in Transition
Vocational Rehabilitation services can offer a great deal to students with disabilities to help them explore, choose, prepare for, and enter a career. Vocational Rehabilitation has counselors that specialize in transition for high school age students. A vocational rehabilitation transition counselor has been assigned to every public school in the State of Utah! Having an assigned counselor that specializes in Transition Services has multiple benefits.
The VR Transition Counselor can:
- Give a youth information about careers and job opportunities to help him or her decide on a job goal.
- Suggest ways to find out about his or her abilities, interests and needs for help through a career assessment.
- Help choose a work goal that fits the youth’s choices, needs and abilities.
- Make recommendations on how the school program can help youth develop job skills.
- Help a youth find the training to prepare for his or her goal, whether it is college, trade school or on-the-job training.
- Help a youth find a job and follow up to make sure it is the right job for him or her.
- Attend the IEP or Section 504 planning meetings, which can be a helpful resource in transitioning into adult services, training, or employment.
- Help keep the IEP Team on the same page. The youth’s teachers, counselor, principal and parent etc. will all know who your VR Counselor is, and the best way to get the counselor involved in your plan.
Who is eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
Eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services requires that an individual have a physical or mental disability meaning that he or she have difficulty getting or keeping a job, and require VR services to become employed. This may include students who have IEP’s, Section 504 Plans or Special Health Care Need Plans. The counselor will work with the youth to find out if he or she is eligible and what type of services are needed to prepare for work. If a youth is eligible, his or her vocational rehabilitation counselor will help the youth plan an Individualize Plan for Employment (IPE) to help the youth prepare for employment.
How Does a Youth Apply for VR Services?
Here is some information you can share with your student. To apply for VR Services, your student can do one or all of the following:
- Let the youth or parents inform the IEP Team that he or she would like a vocational rehabilitation counselor to attend the IEP Meeting. Parents need to sign a school form giving his or her school permission to contact vocational rehabilitation. Make sure the request is given three to four weeks before the meeting in order for a counselor to attend.
- Watch the Student Orientation Video online at Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/USORVideos
- Make an appointment to see a Transition VR Counselor at your local Vocational Rehabilitation Office. You can find the location of your local office by calling (801) 538-7540 or toll free at (800) 473-7530.
- Bring in any records or information about the student’s disability to his or her appointment. Records can include information from a student’s doctor, psychologist or the school. If you do not have information the counselor will arrange for an evaluation.
- Know that youth can bring someone with them to appointments.
If A Student Is Eligible For Services, What Happens Next?
Understand that VR does not have one program that fits everyone, instead services are individualized. The student and parents, if the student is under age 18, will meet with the student’s vocational rehabilitation counselor and together write up an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). It will show the youth each step to take to get the job he or she wants. In order for a youth to develop an IPE he or she will use “informed choice.” Informed choice is the process of making a decision after considering relevant facts and weighing the pros and cons of the decision.
What Type of Services Can A Student Receive Through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)?
A youth may receive many different types of services through vocational rehabilitation (VR). The services are based on the youth’s individual job goals and personal needs. All services provided must be included in the IPE and approved in advance in partnership with his or her VR Counselor.
Some examples of possible services are:
Counseling and Guidance
The VR counselor will meet with the youth one on one to help him or her reach the job goal the youth has set. The VR Counselor is a specialist who is trained to understand the many aspects and issues of disability and employment.
These are services that a youth would need to help them reach his or her job goal.
Assistive Technology (AT)
At is special equipment or software that will help a youth to reach his or her job goal.
Training and Education
This may include vocational training, on-the-job training, supported employment, self-employment or a college or university education.
When the youth is ready for work, his or her counselor will decide what help is needed to find a job. Help like a job coach, on-the-job training, or a referral to an employment service may be needed.
After at least 90 days of working, the youth and his or her counselor will decide whether or not to close the youth’s VR case. Even if the case is closed, individuals can still get post-employment services if needed to keep the job.
Other services may include interpreters, readers, transportation for job training, licenses and fees, tools, equipment, and other services a individual and his or her counselor think are needed to reach employment goals.
Hopefully parents and youth will work together to get Vocational Rehabilitation Services involved with the school team which will result in a smoother transition for all. For further information about transition or vocational rehabilitation call the Utah Parent Center at 801-272-1051 or toll free at 1-800-468-1160.