Many entities and systems are involved in helping prepare youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YADs) for employment. For example, high schools, colleges, universities and trade schools assist Y&YADs in their transitions through career-oriented instruction, career and technical education programs, transition planning, work-based learning, counseling and more. Workforce system entities, such as American Job Centers, provide training and job counseling, search and support services. Disability-specific agencies and offices – such as vocational rehabilitation agencies, agencies for the blind and visually impaired and mental health agencies – provide these services, plus specialized services such as supported employment and assistive technology. Juvenile justice and foster care systems may further engage Y&YADs who are involved in those systems.
Each of these entities has its own staff, operations, data collection and reporting structures and funding streams. By engaging in interagency collaboration, states can better serve Y&YADs by effectively leveraging the respective resources and expertise of each entity, creating more streamlined and comprehensive supports and eliminating redundancy and service cliffs.
States can further engage two other stakeholder groups to support Y&YADs in their transitions. By engaging and coordinating with employers, states can identify and/or develop more robust work-based learning opportunities and sustainable employment opportunities for Y&YADs. In addition, states can train and support family members – including parents and guardians – in supporting their Y&YADs and playing an essential role in their transitions.
Strategies for greater systems coordination include:
- Blending and braiding funding to enhance funding for specific programs;
- Co-delivering services and programs among agencies, including through memoranda of understanding (MOU);
- Co-locating services (such as placing Disability Program Navigators in American Job Centers), so that Y&YADs can more conveniently access support;
- Engaging in data sharing agreements;
- Developing No Wrong Door initiatives to provide a centralized hub for Y&YADs to access information and services;
- Training workforce professionals on services offered by other entities so they can appropriately refer Y&YADs for other services;
- Establishing interagency working groups, committees and communities of practice focused on improving transition outcomes for Y&YADs, including those belonging to specific communities;
- Conducting outreach to employers and businesses to educate them on the benefits and process for hiring, accommodating and advancing Y&YADs; and
- Developing resources for families of Y&YADs to navigate the educational system, transition process and more.
Puerto Rico’s College Support Services program places vocational rehabilitation counselors at the Río Piedras and Mayagüez campuses of the University of Puerto Rico to provide services to eligible students with disabilities.
The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities convenes an Employment Roundtable designed to increase communication across agencies, better support individuals with their employment goals and increase employment outcomes among people with developmental disabilities. The Council also has developed a Youth Transition MOU that outlines how various state agencies will work together to support youth with disabilities transitioning from school to adulthood and employment.
This tip sheet from the Transitions Research and Training Center guides states in developing a strategic plan to bridge disconnected agencies to support Y&YADs with mental health conditions.
This resource from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion guides workforce development service providers in helping employers hire people with disabilities.
This resource from Vanderbilt University’s IRIS Center discusses strategies that school personnel can use to engage families in the transition-planning process, such as providing information about transition planning in the family’s home language.
This webpage from the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative provides examples and resources to facilitate interagency collaboration among state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and other agencies.
Websites and Webpages
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers Program/No Wrong Door System Webpage
- IRIS Center’s Interagency Collaboration Webpage
- State Exchange on Employment and Disability’s Interagency Coordination and Collaboration, Including Employment First Webpage
- State Exchange on Employment and Disability’s Private Sector Engagement Webpage
FAQs, Fact Sheets and Primers
- Approaches to State Workforce Development Systems
- Fragmentation in Workforce Development and Efforts to Coordinate Regional Workforce Development Systems: A Case Study of Challenges in Atlanta and Models for Regional Cooperation from across the Country
- National Center on Secondary Education and Transition’s Service Coordination: Frequently Asked Questions
- Prioritizing Family Involvement in Transition
Guides and Toolkits
- Building a Community of Practice to Support Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions
- Reaching Out to Parents of Youth with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System
- Working with Families of Children in the Juvenile Justice and Corrections Systems: A Guide for Education Program Leaders, Principals, and Building Administrators