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Pre-Employment Transition Services
DVRS provides service for students transitioning from high school to employment or post secondary education
Students with developmental disabilities between the ages of 14 and 21 are eligible for Pre-Employment Transition Services from the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). Students who would like to explore the possibility of entering into competitive employment upon graduation should be referred to DVRS by their school for this service. In order to be eligible, students must have a significant disability documented in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. They must also require supports in order to be successfully employed.
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is required by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 to set aside fifteen percent of their federal funding to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services for students with disabilities. WIOA expanded the services that DVRS could provide to students with developmental disabilities who are planning to enter competitive employment or postsecondary education. These services are designed to support employment in “competitive integrated settings” and should be coordinated with local education agencies (i.e. high schools).
Competitive integrated employment is defined as having:
- A competitive earning component
- Wages at or above minimum wage
- Pay rate comparable to customary rate paid to non-disabled workers with similar skills, experience, and training.
- Employee must receive benefits comparable to non-disabled employees in similar position
- An integrated location component
- Setting typically found in the community or competitive labor market
- Setting in which worker interacts with persons without disabilities to the same extent as non-disabled employees
- An opportunity for advancement component
- Employee with the disability must be eligible for the same opportunities for advancement as are available to employees without disabilities in similar positions
There are five services available within Pre-employment Transition Services as required by WOAI. Twenty-five hours of service are available to students within each of the five areas of service. These pre-employment transition services can be provided to an individual or in a group setting:
- Job Exploration Counseling
- Administration of vocational interest inventories
- Identification of careers of interest to student
- Information on in-demand occupations and non-traditional employment
- Work-based learning experience – in school, after school, or community-based (must be provided in the community to the maximum extent possible)
- Interviews to research employers
- Work site tours
- Job shadowing
- Can include paid or unpaid
- Short-term employment
- On-the-job training
- Counseling on opportunities in postsecondary education programs
- Advise students and parents on course offerings and career options
- Provide information on academic and occupational training needed to succeed in the workplace
- Provide information about college application and admissions processes
- Workplace readiness training
- Develop communication and interpersonal skills
- Develop financial literacy
- Learn mobility skills
- Acquire job seeking skills
- Develop understanding of employer expectations for punctuality and performance, as well as other “soft” skills necessary for employment.
- Self-Advocacy instruction
- Learn about rights and responsibilities
- Learn how to request accommodations or services and supports
- Communicate thoughts, concerns, and needs (in preparation for peer mentoring opportunities with individuals working in their area(s) of interest.
- Participating in informational interviews
- Participating in youth leadership activities offered in education or community settings
DVRS is also required to participate in transition coordination. Those requirements are:
- DVRS representatives attend IEP meetings when invited (adequate advance notice is highly recommended)
- Development of work opportunities for students through interactions with local workforce development boards, Onestop centers, and employers
- Work with schools to coordinate and insure the provision of pre-employment transition services
Students with developmental disabilities should be referred to DVRS by school staff. The development of a relationship between DVRS and the school helps to streamline the process of providing the required school documentation. If the school does not make the referral in a timely manner, the student or parents may make the referral themselves. The referral form can be found on the DVRS website. The DVRS office that serves Sussex County is located in Hackettstown, but is temporarily closed. Sussex County residents should use the Randolph office. Their contact information is found below.
Transitioning students with aspirations of joining the workforce should make every effort to access this valuable resource. New Jersey is one of fourteen “Employment First” states, meaning that competitive employment is the preferred outcome for all students, including those with disabilities. Because of that commitment to employment for all, New Jersey has made additional funding available to adults with developmental disabilities – if needed – to support them in the workforce. This funding is in addition to the budget amounts assigned to individuals served by the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Individuals with developmental disabilities should discuss their need for additional funding with their Support Coordinator*.
Resources of interest to transitioning students with developmental disabilities:
- DVRS – Randolph
13 Emery Avenue, 2nd Floor
Randolph, New Jersey 07869-3886
Phone: 862-397-5600 Option 3
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN)- askjan.org
- The New Jersey Career Assistance Navigator (NJCAN) – NJCAN.org
- My Next Move- Career Planning website geared toward youth, mynextmove.org
- NCWD/Youth is a source for information about employment and youth with disabilities. ncwd-Youth.info
- NJ LWD /NJDVRS careerconnections.nj.gov
- NJ Statewide Independent Living Council- njsilc.org (Provides information about the Centers for Independent Living)
- Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), US Dept. of Labor- dol.gov/odep
- “Soft Skills to Pay the Bills” Curriculum (PDF format), dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills
- Transition Matters- Family Support Center of New Jersey, (FSCNJ) http://www.fscnj.org/transition-matters/ Transition information & resources
*Support Coordinator – case manager selected by individual with developmental disabilities when entering the DDD service system.