States have implemented a range of programs to assist youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YADs) in preparing for, achieving, and maintaining employment. Some of these programs exclusively serve Y&YADs – such as Pre-Employment Transition Services – while others serve broader populations but target Y&YADs – such as Supported Employment Services.
CAPE-Youth has compiled a database of these programs in each state, which can be viewed by state or by topic area. Programs 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. These are:
- Career Preparation & Work-Based Learning;
- School-Based Preparatory Experiences;
- Youth Development & Leadership;
- Family Engagement; and
- Connecting Activities.
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.
The database includes programs implemented by state agencies and offices, non-profits and community organizations, colleges and universities and other entities. It also includes multi-stakeholder projects, which are implemented by more than one entity.
Note that this database is not exhaustive; it seeks to capture key programs that directly support employment outcomes for Y&YADs, and that are either offered state-wide or that are offered locally but serve Y&YADs in an innovative way.
If you have additional programs you think should be included, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the program based on our criteria.
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. State school-based preparatory experiences include CTE courses for high school students with disabilities, disability support services at colleges and universities and inclusive postsecondary education programs.
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. This can take the form of job shadowing, internships, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and summer work experiences. State career preparation and work-based learning programs include Project SEARCH, summer work programs and transition camps.
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. State youth development and leadership programs include youth leadership forums, peer support and mentoring opportunities and self-advocacy trainings.
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. State connecting activities and services include assistive technology programs, client assistance programs and transportation services.
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. State family engagement programs include trainings, peer support and assistance with the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process.
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. State systems coordination can be enhanced through communities of practice, interagency task forces or committees and blended and braided funding.
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. State professional development can take the form of trainings, leadership institutes and graduate programs focused on transitions.
Find out what programs are offered in your state to support youth and young adults with disabilities in preparing for, achieving and maintaining employment.