In Washington, students with mental or physical disabilities may have a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan to help ensure they receive the assistance needed to reach their educational goals. However, as the end of high school approaches, many special needs children and their parents may be wondering how they will make the next step: transitioning from the classroom to the workplace.
One option for students who want to pursue a job is working with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. DVR offers young persons with special needs a variety of services to help them with job counseling, training and placement.
Who is eligible for transition services?
Generally, eligible students are currently enrolled in a recognized secondary or postsecondary education program and have a 504 plan, IEP or documented disability. While there is no strict age requirement, eligibility may depend on a student’s assessed ability to transition to work.
What transition services are available?
Transition services available to special needs youth include:
- Job exploration: students learn more about different types of jobs and identify their own interests, skills and work preferences
- Workplace preparation: students develop job-related skills for living independently, such as time/money management, resume writing, interviewing and accessing support
- Work experience: students gain real-world experience through job shadows, workplace tours, internships and other activities
DVR’s pre-employment services also emphasize the importance of self-advocacy. In addition to learning skills to help them live and work independently, special needs students learn how to speak up for their own rights while knowing when to ask for assistance or services they need as they transition from school to work.