If your high school student has an IEP, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) says she has to have a transition plan. Its purpose is to create a smooth transition to whatever she plans to do after high school. That might include going to college or going straight to work.
But what if it seems like your child’s learning and attention issues might be a big obstacle to finding employment? Or to keeping a job once she gets it?
Depending on her needs, she might be able to get help from the vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency in your state. VR services are for people with all types of disabilities. The services are designed to help with work, education and independent living.
Services vary by state. But they might include:
The government provides money for each state to have a VR agency. By law, VR agencies must work with schools to identify kids who may need services. Still, it’s important to talk to your child’s IEP team about inviting someone from VR to join the transition team.
It’s also important to know that the requirements to qualify for VR are different from those for special education. Plus, they vary from state to state. Even if your child has had an IEP, she must apply and qualify for VR services. And her learning or attention issue has to be a major barrier to her getting and keeping a job.
She can apply for services with your help or on her own. Someone from the school’s transition team can also make a referral and send in the application.
After the application is submitted, your child will meet with a VR counselor to talk more about it. The agency will look at your child’s strengths, interests and unique needs. It will also look at your child’s school records and may ask for permission to see medical records.
An eligibility decision is usually made within 60 days. If your child qualifies for services, her VR counselor will work with her to create an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Like an IEP, an IPE is a legal document that lists both goals and services. The plan is reviewed every year.
Even if your child doesn’t qualify for VR, there are many ways you can help her pursue her goals. Together, you can explore different ways she can learn a trade. And when she starts working, you can take steps to make the transition go more smoothly.