States have enacted a number of policies – through executive orders and legislation – to assist youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YADs) in preparing for, achieving and maintaining employment.
CAPE-Youth has compiled a database of these policies in each state, which can be viewed by state or by topic area. Policies are organized into seven categories. Five of these categories correspond to the Guideposts for Success, or key activities that research has shown improve employment outcomes for Y&YADs:
- Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning;
- School-Based Preparatory Experiences;
- Youth Development and Leadership;
- Connecting Activities; and
- Family Engagement.
CAPE-Youth identified two additional activities that can facilitate implementation of the Guideposts. These serve as the final two categories, and are:
- Systems Coordination; and
- Professional Development for Service Providers.
If you have additional policies you think should be included, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and the policies will be evaluated for potential inclusion.
School-Based Preparatory Experiences
A youth’s successful transition into adulthood begins with the foundation built in the educational environment, in the form of rigorous, relevant and inclusive curricula; a safe and supportive learning environment; and access to effective educators. Relevant policies enhance transition planning in a student’s individualized education program (IEP) or through other mechanisms; create alternative pathways to a high school diploma; create inclusive college programs; bolster supports for college students with disabilities; and fund career and technical education (CTE) for students with disabilities.
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning
Young people benefit substantially from timely and diverse career preparation and work-based learning opportunities, which allow them to explore career interests and develop soft and hard job skills. Relevant policies establish rehabilitation and training centers; eliminate subminimum wage employment; promote competitive integrated employment, including in transition planning; increase funding for community rehabilitation providers and other employment services; and expand employment supports for youth with disabilities.
Youth Development and Leadership
Youth play a key role in directing their futures. Trainings in self-determination, self-advocacy and leadership help youth develop the skills necessary for taking an active role in planning their transitions. Relevant policies establish peer support and mentorship programs for youth with disabilities; create and fund self-advocacy programs; add self-determination elements to a student’s IEP; and incorporate leadership training into inclusive postsecondary and other programs for students with disabilities.
Connecting Activities and Services
The needs of young people can be diverse and span a variety of life areas. In order to maintain employment, young people need access to core services and supports such as benefits counseling, financial literacy training, assistive technology and transportation. Relevant policies establish financial literacy training programs for youth with disabilities; create, expand and promote Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts; provide wraparound services to support employment; create scholarships for postsecondary education and training; and expand assistive technology resources and accessible transportation.
Families play a critical role in supporting young people throughout their transitions, and states can provide parents, guardians, caregivers and extended family with information and assistance needed to fulfill that role. Relevant policies create and fund conferences for parents of children with disabilities; require schools and other entities to share transition-related information with parents; facilitate participation of parents in IEP and transition planning meetings; and add parents of children with disabilities to committees and working groups focused on transition and employment.
A range of stakeholders are involved in the transition process for youth with disabilities, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies and workforce and education systems. It is important that all key stakeholders across a state collaborate and coordinate to better deliver employment supports and services to Y&YADs. Relevant policies create multi-stakeholder task forces, advisory councils and working groups focused on transition; facilitate data sharing on students with disabilities; and require agencies to collaborate to provide services and advance broader competitive integrated employment goals.
Professional Development for Service Providers
A range of professionals work with Y&YADs to help them transition to adulthood, from vocational rehabilitation counselors to CTE instructors. Professional development can help support workforce professionals by providing training in best practices to increase the impact of their services. Relevant policies require special educators to complete transition-related coursework; establish training programs for transition counselors and other employment providers; and provide technical assistance to workforce and education entities on serving individuals with disabilities.
Find out what programs are offered in your state to support youth and young adults with disabilities in preparing for, achieving and maintaining employment.