Where to Go if Your Child Needs a Job or Help with Post High School Education
I am breaking my mold today and not writing about food. One of the other jobs I do is to assist those with disabilities in seeking employment and helping them on their path to obtain a job or career.
Sadly, it is a hidden secret that the government has agencies to help with employment for anyone with a disability, or an injury that requires some assistance with schooling, obtaining employment or finding a new type of employment. There is so much help available; you just need to know where to turn. So many people are left in the dark about vocational rehabilitation services that can provide invaluable assistance.
The first step is to contact your local office of a vocational rehabilitation program. These agencies have been around for many years and are available in all states to assist people, usually from seniors in high school to adulthood, who have physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and/ or learning disabilities. If you have an IEP or 504, testing results, or a physician’s documentation, then you are on your way to getting the help you need to find a job or getting assistance with your education.
Check with your local agency to best understand services
Each state has its own laws and regulations, so it’s best to contact your local office to find out what is involved. Services are completely free! Some of the services that might be available are vocational testing, help with the funding of school (tuition, books, transpiration, supplies, tools, testing, fees, etc), counseling, guidance, job placement, job coaching, etc…Please check with your local agency for a complete understanding of the many other services available to individuals with disabilities so they can become (and remain) gainfully employed.
These are your tax dollars at work. Funds from your state and from the National government are available to help you and your family. If you want to locate your local department of vocation rehabilitation, call 2-1-1 and ask for the local office phone number. 2-1-1 is a service that offers information about social services in your community. The call is free and they are open 24/7 to assist with all of your social service related inquiries.
You can also look at these two sites. They list all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US territories’ vocational rehabilitation main headquarters, web sites and main phone numbers
Here are a few other web sites to help you to investigate the services that the vocational rehabilitation department in your state can provide:
It is wise to view the web site before making contact with your state’s vocational rehabilitation department. Read about what services they can provide and what documentation you must provide to receive these services. It is best to contact your local branch and ask for the counselor of the day to ask questions and set up an appointment. If your child is an adult and you do not have conservatorship, your child must sign a permission slip for the counselor and other rehabilitation representatives to discuss things with you, the parent.
Discuss various options with the counselor
After you have set up an appointment you and/or your child will go into the local office to meet with a rehabilitation counselor. The counselor will ask to see verification of a disability or injury and will ask you to fill out forms (sometimes forms are sent to you ahead of time, via mail or email). The counselor will discuss the goals of the clients (“the consumer”) to find out what career path the person would like to take. Some state’s offices might ask for financial information and they might determine that the family might have to pay for some part of the services. Usually, services are 100% free and do not need to be paid back. Be sure to ask if your state takes income of the parents or family into account.
If schooling is something the person is interested in pursuing, the counselor will discuss the various options and how much money they can provide.
After the intake, the counselor will inform you how long it will take until you find out if you are approved for services. Once you get approved, an appointment will be set up with the same counselor, or perhaps another one in the same office. You will meet with them and go over your plan, your goals and how they can help you.
The counselor will go over more laws, rules and procedures, as well as how they can best serve their consumer to reach their employment goals.
You might be surprised at the wealth of information that a vocational counselor can provide and the steps that they will take to help you obtain your goals. Reach out, plan for your future: it’s waiting for you!
Barrie Silberberg is the author of The Autism & ADHD Diet : A Step-by-Step Guide To Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) And Others Interventions.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2016 Magazine