For Youth In Transition
Youth in Transition from School to Careers
Transitioning from high school to adulthood is something everyone goes through. For most, it is a time of making choices and decisions, excitement with possible frustration, some false starts, and some successes. For youth with serious disabilities of any kind (learning, emotional, or physical), the challenges that accompany transition can seem daunting. With a focus on early involvement, career preparation and work-based learning, opportunities for youth development and leadership, support for attending college, acquiring independent living skills including financial planning, transportation, and family involvement, youth with disabilities will succeed.
VocRehabVermont School Transition Program
As of October, 2008, there are 16 VocRehabVermont Transition Counselors, both full and part-time, based in all VocRehabVermont districts and working directly with all Vermont high schools and a variety of technical centers, and alternative or independent schools. Since 1999, the number of transition-aged youth served by VocRehabVermont has increased by almost 85%.
These Counselors have a dedicated caseload of transition-aged youth (between the ages of 14 and 23) and aim to improve employment and post secondary outcomes of these youth by meeting with students in their local high schools, sometimes as early as their freshman year, and focusing on both short and long term goals. They also assist schools with information and resources, collaborate with interagency partners, and work as catalysts for change to improve the transition process for youth.
The Vermont JOBS program is spearheaded by VocRehabVermont in partnership with the Department of Corrections, Department of Health/Division of Mental Health, and the Department for Children and Family Services to serve youth with serious emotional behavioral disabilities (EBD).
JOBS is an innovative supported employment and intensive case management service for youth with EBD that uses work as a means to reach this challenging population. As a result of this partnership, the JOBS Program is operational in 12 AHS districts and 346 youth participated in 2008. Of those without a GED or High School Diploma at intake, 40% were assisted in reaching one of these educational goals. Out of those listed as homeless at intake 53% were assisted in obtaining stable housing and of those not working at intake 56% had an employer paid work experience. The support provided to assist youth in obtaining stable housing, reaching educational goals and finding employment also reduce involvement with corrections and support youth to become productive members of their communities.
Youth Benefits Counseling
Approximately 2,000 youth with disabilities in Vermont receive Social Security Administration disability benefits (SSI and SSDI). Many choose not to work or are underemployed because they or their families are afraid of what will happen to their benefits. As a result they often spend a lifetime in poverty.
Benefits counselors help young people and their families plan for something other than poverty, for example:
- Youth who receive SSI are almost always financially better off if they go to work. A young person in Vermont can earn over $29,000 per year and retain their eligibility for SSI.
- Work incentives such as the PASS or Student Earned Income Exclusion can be used to help a young person pay for college or post secondary education.
- Other work incentives, such as Impairment Related Work Expenses, help youth retain more of their earnings to pay for costs associated with work.
By providing accurate information counselors are assisting these young people plan for college and careers rather than a government check.