This is important and exciting news for teachers and parents of students with transition challenges:
Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is currently pushing for improved on-the-job opportunities for young men and women with disabilities while they are still in school through a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. He is looking to make this issue a top priority as Congress prepares to address a major employment bill.
The changes that Senator Harkin is hoping to make would have vocational rehabilitation agencies take a larger role in helping disabled youth find internships, job opportunities and other real-world experiences that would aid them in school-to-work transition. Currently, access to such opportunities varies greatly from state to state, with vocational rehabilitation available in some areas but not in others.
According to one of his aides, Senator Harkin wants vocational rehabilitation agencies in every state to set aside at least 10 percent of their funds to provide school-to-work transition services to students with disabilities. This includes internships, summer jobs and apprenticeships in addition to the transition services they usually provide.
Programs that focus on students with special needs often focus on helping them develop the social skills necessary for life outside of school. Unfortunately, school-to-work transitions can be difficult for students under the best of circumstances. Hopefully, a greater emphasis on vocational rehabilitation agencies will help to change this and make transitioning into a career after school easier for students with disabilities. Things such as internships and summer jobs can provide a springboard for these students as they decide on their career path after high school and learn about life in the workforce.
Senator Harkin, a chair on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, suggests that there is bipartisan support for his plan after having conversations with the Committee’s top republican, Lamar Alexander of Texas. If all goes well, Senator Harkin will have a bill ready for consideration by the fall season.
We at JSC are very excited about this move towards expanding transitions services for students with special needs. Transitioning from school to work is difficult for most high school students, and is especially so for those with developmental disabilities. We want all students to have the opportunity to transition smoothly and successfully, which is why we have recently updated our popular Transitions Curriculum. Offering everything needed for a comprehensive course in transitioning from school to real life, this curriculum serves as the stand-alone focus of a transitions class in a school setting or as a practical adjunct to job coaching, vocational and related training services. We did the research so you can focus on the teaching! To find out more about the new, updated curriculum click here.
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Source: Diament, Michelle. “Senator Looks To Enhance Transition Services Nationwide.” Disability Scoop. N.p., 31 May 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.