In 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandated that transition services focus on improving academic and functional achievement of students with disabilities. In 2008 report from the National Council on Disability (NCD) highlighted that outcomes were not being accessed in regards to the benefits being provided to youth with disabilities. Additionally, in 2014 the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, addressed the role of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, that were being provided through the states, in relation to supporting youth with disabilities and transition services.
This paper examines a collaborative transition model and preliminary results of a 5-year study. The study evaluated the effects of embedded employment resources in schools, the impact on agency connections, employment outcomes, and lessons learned. These results were then used as the basis for the National Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) Conference and associated workshop. There were three questions that guided the workshop discussions.
One example that was provided looked at the Indiana School-to-Work Collaborative. IN*SOURCE is a parent training and information center in Indiana that provides information to families.
Students with a disability who had difficulties meeting diploma requirements and were hoping to enter the workforce where the primary target of the Collaborative. There were 208 Experimental Sites and 66 Control Sites. Examples of Agencies involved included Vocational Rehabilitation, Employment Providers, Case Management Providers and several others.
Implementation and data collection occurred over three years. Metrics measured included number of internships obtained, employment rate for students, and pay.
There were 7 aspects of the Collaborative that focused on integrating services for students. Some examples include having a single-point-of-contact, participating in internships through the school, and having Benefits Information Network (BIN) liaisons available for students and families.
The control sites included districts that did not have employment resources embedded into schools.
Students were more likely to be connected to vocational services when they are embedded within schools.
Schools and employment supports should be integrated to offer students with disabilities the most opportunities for success.