Jayden Gutierrez (he/him/él), one of the 2022 Dinah F.B. Cohen DREAM Fellows, interviewed the Rehabilitation Services Administration about the resources they offer to disabled individuals currently going through major life transitions. The below article is written by him.
Please describe your organization and signature transition support programs.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) provides leadership and resources to assist state and other agencies in providing vocational rehabilitation and other services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment, independence, and integration into the community and the competitive labor market.
RSA is a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) within the U.S. Department of Education. The mission of OSERS is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. OSERS’ vision is that all Americans with disabilities will live and thrive with their disabilities in their own communities.
What are key experiences that assist young people in accessing quality and impactful transition support? What lessons or tips do you have to share with other service providers to learn your innovative ways?
Key transition experiences: informational interviews, job shadowing, internships, work experiences
Lessons or tips: Understand the Labor Market Information in the region/state–if a person with a disability’s career interests do not match the region/state, assist in finding the right match given the onset of remote work opportunities in the post-COVID climate, work early/work often
Does your programming include elements of self-advocacy, self-determination or mentoring? If so, describe the significance of this content for the participants.
I oversee discretionary grants that State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies can compete for to enhance the employment outcomes for people with disabilities. These grants support in building the professional capacity of state vocational rehabilitation counselors and supervisors to deliver competitive, integrated employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
How does your organization center multiple-marginalized populations?
It’s a work in progress and it varies by state (listed in state website) and different states are ahead of others depending on population and funding. California, for example, works with homeless organizations to build relationships and counselors go to where people are. Every state VR agency has unique programs!
- If you are a high school student going to college: check out VR in other state for college to know what services you qualify for
- If finished schooling: VR gives career pathway ideas and you can get support from VR with assisted technology
- Key points: Look at VR in your state or school state and find out what services they provide and what you qualify for.
- Accommodations: counselor works with a person to learn self advocacy and knowing the law and how it applies to them, or who to go to in the workplace setting if issues pop up.