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Improving Employment Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities
By Stacy M. Kyle, Director of Business Development and Partnerships, AHEDD

According to the PA State Data Center (17-18), there were 290,986 (16%) children identified in special education among the total enrollment of 1.7 million. With transition planning beginning as early as 14, the transition team must identify goals and supports to move youth toward post-secondary education, vocational training, employment, independent living, and/or community participation.

So … how can we prepare youth for employment success after High School? Below is what AHEDD has learned and promotes as recommended best practices for success after High School.

In 2016 AHEDD surveyed 365 former participants who graduated from high school up to two (2) years prior and who had received the agency’s services prior to graduation. Of the 365 surveyed, 70 people (19%) responded. A high percentage of those responding (86%) were engaged in employment or post-secondary education.

Learn more about what planning should happen in high school - visit this online checklist at https://www.pattan.net/publications/planning-for-the-future-checklist.

Focus on work experiences while still in school - 87% of those responding to AHEDD’s survey had multiple experiences of volunteer internships and paid employment while still in school.

Establish involvement with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) before leaving high school - 77% of those who responded indicated engagement with OVR. For example, OVR’s Early Reach and Pre-Employment Transition Service programs are helping youth with disabilities to prepare for their future transition into work.

Utilize Work Incentive Counseling (WIC) - 53% of those who responded have already been receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). WIC is a recognized best practice to support employment by providing insight and guidance as to how current and future employment impacts SSA and other government benefits. This service is essential for parents of transition aged youth who receive SSA benefits.

Collaborate with resources to assist with goal planning - 91% of those who responded indicated they had an employment goal after high school. “Effective transition involves purposeful planning among varying entities. It entails recognizing the student’s current strengths, interests, preferences, and needs, and then identifying what services and supports he or she will need to achieve future success” (PATTAN, Secondary Transition).

For more information, visit AHEDD’s website at www.ahedd.org or contact AHEDD at (866) 902-4333 ext. 90191 or inforequest@ahedd.org.

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