Champions for Children with Disabilities
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Every state has a federally funded agency that administers vocational rehabilitation (VR), supported employment, and independent living services. Some states have separate vocational rehabilitation programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and a few states have separate programs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. State VR programs provide services that enable individuals with disabilities to pursue meaningful employment that corresponds with their abilities and interests.
Although VR is considered an adult service agency, VR counselors can join the transition team and attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning meetings before a student leaves high school. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies offer important programs that can be of service to students with disabilities who may be leaving high school without employment skills, or who are already out of school and finding it difficult to find or keep a job without additional training.
VR counselors first assess a student's eligibility for VR services. Once it is determined that a young person is eligible to receive VR services, a counselor is assigned to work with them. Together, students and their counselors will develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) that identifies needed VR services. Family members can participate in this process - although youth who have reached their state's legal age of adulthood must give their written permission for parents to be involved.
The services available through VR programs vary widely depending upon the state. They can include assessment to determine the extent of your son's or daughter's disability; vocational evaluation, counseling and guidance; referral to services from other agencies; vocational and other types of post-secondary education and training (including self-determination and self-advocacy training); interpreter and reader services; rehabilitation technology services and other job accommodations; placement in suitable employment; employer education on disability issues -- such as the ADA and job accommodations; post-employment services; services to family members; and other goods or services necessary to achieve rehabilitation objectives identified in the IPE.
Vocational Rehabilitation Links
- PACER's Project PRIDE is staffed by advocates who assist Minnesota families by providing information, training, telephone assistance, and one-on-one consultation. Project PRIDE offers workshops on a variety of subjects related to vocational rehabilitation, employment, independent living, and the Americans with Disabilities Act to individuals with disabilities, their family members and professionals throughout Minnesota.
- Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services
- Frequently Asked Questions About Rehabilitative Services available to Minnesota Youth
- Who is Eligible for VR services from Rehabilitation Services?, a fact sheet from the MN Disability Law Center
- Who is Eligible for VR services from State Services for the Blind? , a fact sheet from the MN Disability Law Center
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Can It Help You? Training Module from the HEATH Resource Center
- VR Research in Brief - A Partnership in Career Development for People with Disabilities: Collaboration Between Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Families
- VR Reasearch in Brief - Centers for Youth with Disabilities, Parents, and Professionals Working in Transition and Employment Planning
Adult Services: What Are They? Where Are They? a resource page from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities web site, provides information on VR and other adult services
Rehabilitation Act - This online workshop from the Family Network on Disabilities of Florida looks at the Rehabilitation Act and how it can support increased access to employment and independence. Some information is specific to Florida and each state vocational rehabilitation agency may differ in the services they provide, however, the most information is applicable to all states.
- State Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
- Client Assistance Programs (CAPs); A National Network of Advocacy in Rehabilitation. CAP agencies provide information and assistance to individuals seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act
- Fact Sheet on the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program
- Family Involvement: Research to Practice, a PowerPoint presentation delivered by PACER staff at the National Council on Rehabilitation Education's October 2009 conference
- Getting the Most from the Public Vocational Rehabilitation System, a 2004 publication from the Institute for Community Inclusion Boston: (Tools for Inclusion, December 2004, Order #TO19)
- The Individualized Plan for Employment, a fact sheet from the Minnesota Disability Law Center
- Investing in the Transition of Youth with Disabilities to Productive Careers (2002)
The publication produced by the 28th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues emphasizes collaboration between transition partners, particularly the vocational rehabilitation and special education systems. It offers strategies to increase opportunities for the empowerment and choice of youth with disabilities, and notes the critical role of parents as equal partners in transition planning. Also available in Rich Text format.
- Negotiating with Your VR Counselor, a PACER newsletter article from Point of Departure, Vol. 4, No. 2
- Promising Practices for Basic VR Agencies Helping Transition Age Youth, project summaries on the U.S. Department of Education website.
- The Rehabilitation Act and the ADA Connection, a PACER article
- Rehabilitation Services Available for Youth with Disabilities, a1996 Parent Brief from the National Transition Network
- Self Determination, fact sheet
- Using Social Security or Vocational Rehabilitation for International Exchange Opportunities
- Vocational Rehabilitation Program - Public Law 105-220; What the Law States, fact sheet from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Can It Help You? from Heath Resource Center
- Your Right to Appeal Any Decision Made by Vocational Rehabilitation, a 1996 Parent Brief from the National Transition Network
- An Assessment of Transition Policies and Practices in State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, The Study Group Inc. (Final Report—June 2007)
- The Family as a Critical Partner in the Achievement of a Successful Employment Outcome (2002), a report prepared for the 26th Institute of Rehabilitation Issues
- Integrating Service Systems at the Point of Transition for Youth with Significant Disabilities (2002), an Information Brief from the National Center on Secondary Education Transition
- National Longitudinal Transition Study 2
- Providing supports to youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood: Case descriptions from the Youth Transition Demonstration, a 2009 article published in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
- The Rehabilitation Act: Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth (2008), a report from the National Council on Disability