Pre-Employment Transition Services
Special Education Division, from CVES SUCCESS Stories: Issue XI 2019-2020 (pdf)
Tonya Robinson, Coordinator of Transition Programs, is pleased to announce that the Special Education Division at Champlain Valley Educational Services (CVES) has received a five-year grant for $1.5 Million from the NYS Education Department through ACCES-VR to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for Students with Disabilities. It will provide Pre-ETS to students with disabilities in secondary, post-secondary, non-traditional or alternative education programs (between the ages of 14 and 21) who need such services and are potentially eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Pre-ETS services may include Job Exploration Counseling, Work-Based Learning Experiences, Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs, Workplace Readiness Training to develop social skills and independent living, and Instruction in Self-Advocacy.
They applied through an RFP to ACCES-VR , and one grant is awarded per ACCES-VR district office.
Pre-ETS may combine individual services in a meaningful way to enhance job readiness.
- Post-Secondary Counseling for Students – To provide students with counseling related to education options after high school;
- Job Exploration Counseling for Students – To provide students with counseling related to careers options after high school;
- Self-Advocacy for Students – To develop self-advocacy skills;
- Work Readiness for Students – To enhance career exploration and develop soft skills;
- Work-Based Learning Development for Students – To develop an internship, work try-out or work-based learning experience. Work-Based Learning Development may be used as a stand-alone service;
- Work-Based Learning Experience for Students – To assist with paid work experience in instances where the employer is unable to place the student on his/her payroll; and
- Work-Based Coaching Supports for Students (for employment) – To provide coaching supports for youth engaged in paid work experiences.
Tonya explained that, “we currently provide the Pre-ETS services that are in this new contract, but only for individuals who are referred to us by ACCES-VR for services. These are individuals who applied to ACCES-VR, if they are approved, they are referred to us for the service – we do that already. The new contract will enable us to extend our services to potentially eligible individuals without the need for an ACCES-VR referral. This would include self referrals, school referrals, family referrals or agency referrals. We are in the process of creating a referral system to facilitate this process.”
New clients must be between 14 and 21 and enrolled in some kind of educational program in order to qualify. They must also have a barrier to employment, for example an IEP, 504 plan or other barrier for which they would require assistance. For example, mental health issues, drug or alcohol abuse, or a medical condition for which they might need accommodations at work would qualify them as well.
The program would cover Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St Lawrence counties – this is a huge area, but all are within the Malone ACCES-VR District Office. The rollout plan was to cover Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties this year, and then add St. Lawrence county next year. The region overlaps with FEH and St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, so by applying to provide services for all the regions and partnering with FEH BOCES, CVES had an application that was more likely to be successful.
Tonya continued, “my hope is that students will gain valuable work experience and opportunities so that their transitions to either the workforce or to college are strengthened. Studies show that individuals who have work experience prior to exiting school have better outcomes when they leave school. Our goal is to provide a lot of opportunities while they are still in school to improve those outcomes upon exit.”
“The contract requires us to provide services to a minimum of 250 students per year, and those students can be repetitive from year to year. We’re making an operational plan for each region depending upon the needs that we’ve received. For example, we might have a group of students who are 14 this year who we will follow through for 5 years and will be able to document their growth. We might have others who are referred to us from a college campus from out of the region who are attending one of our local colleges and need additional supports.”
There is definitely a great need for these services. Not every school can provide school-based learning, and Regents-bound students spend so much time on academics that they need time outside of school to work on those other skills that are important for employment. Tonya’s team will work with the students at night, on weekends, during school breaks and summer vacations, in addition to working in partnership with some school districts.