- Program-Specific Requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation (Combined or General)
The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan  must include the following descriptions and estimates, as required by section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by title IV of WIOA:
 Sec. 102(b)(2)(D)(iii) of WIOA
d. 1. The designated State unit's plans, policies, and procedures for coordination with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of VR services, including pre-employment transition services, as well as procedures for the timely development and approval of individualized plans for employment for the students
Referrals for transition services and pre-employment transition services are carried out in a number of ways. Students can be referred by the LEA’s, special education teachers, 504 coordinators, doctors, mental health professionals, parents, teachers, transition counselors assigned to the schools, or can be self-referred. Once referred to the VR counselor assigned to the school, the counselor works with educational officials to obtain pertinent documentation necessary for pre-employment transition services or transition services. Students may receive pre-employment transition services beginning in the 9th grade or age 16-21 (or younger if decided in the IEP). Students can be served as eligible or potentially eligible consumers. Students who require intensive services will require an application, be determined eligible within the required 60-day period (unless for specific, documented reason an extension is necessary) and a plan for transition services will be written within 90 days. It is expected that all students requiring VR services to be successful in competitive integrated employment will have a plan before they exit high school. We anticipate that many of our under served, potentially eligible students will apply for services and become VR consumers in their 11th grade year. All Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for students ages 16-21 or in the 9th grade (younger if stipulated in their IEP) that are not served under potentially eligible, will have Pre-ETS services included in their IPEs.
Plans, policies and procedures for coordination with Education officials: ADRS is committed to providing pre-employment transition services to assist students with disabilities in the high school setting in making a seamless transition to the world of work or vocational/post-secondary education. ADRS maintains a formal Interagency Agreement with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) for the provision of pre-employment transition services and transition services. This agreement serves to ensure that students with disabilities, who are eligible or potentially eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services, are provided services without unnecessary delay, as well as, to increase the collaborative efforts of the ADRS and ALSDE regarding the coordination of services that will improve transition outcomes for students with disabilities. The agreement describes (1) the scope of services to be provided by the ALSDE and ADRS; (2) the financial responsibilities of each party; (3) the methods of consultation and technical services needed to formulate IPEs; (4) the role of each agency in transition planning; and, (5) methods and strategies for identification of students needing transition services. Transition planning, sharing of student information, and consultation activities are included in the agreement.
Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS): Federal mandate requires ADRS, in collaboration with the local educational agencies, to use 15% of ADRS federal allotment in providing or arranging for the provision of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for all students with disabilities, 9th grade or ages 16- 21, in need of such services who are eligible for or potentially eligible for services. Pre-ETS required activities include: • Job exploration counseling. • Work-based learning experiences, which may include in school or after school opportunities or experience outside the traditional school setting (including internships) that are provided in an integrated environment to the maximum extent possible. • Counseling and guidance on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs at institutions of higher education. • Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living. • Instruction in self—advocacy, which may include peer mentoring.
In order to achieve the 15% federal mandate, ADRS increased efforts to develop and improve transition partnerships, programs, and service models by implementing and expanding the following services/programs:
Transition Unlimited — A collaboration between the ADRS and Auburn Transition Leadership Institute. Transition Unlimited is a pre-employment transition services initiative designed to build capacity and connect services to appropriately implement pre-employment transition services throughout the state. The goal of the initiative is to provide guidance to transition stakeholders and LEAs during the development of action plans (collaboratively agreed upon by VR counselor and local school personnel) for the delivery of Pre-ETS that best meet the individual needs of students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. Transition Unlimited underscores ADRS’s commitment to keep a focus on transition services at the local level by bringing specific Pre-ETS planning to each local high school, which builds upon previous planning efforts. Each team’s action plan is accessible so that teams can learn from one another. This provides an opportunity to build awareness of pre-employment transition services throughout Alabama. Each team is responsible for monitoring services agreed upon in the collaborative planning process. Ongoing technical assistance is available to teams during quarterly progress monitoring.
Work based learning program - JET (Job Exploration Training) During the collaborative process for Transition Unlimited, students are identified who could benefit from work-based learning. These students participate in work-based learning experiences in community settings in order to develop general employment skills or specific job-related skills before the student is qualified for employment.
Smart Work Ethics Training (SWE) - SWE is a social skills curriculum that addresses communication skills and work place behaviors (attitude, work ethic, image and appearance, interpersonal skills, teamwork, time management, accountability) needed to obtain and maintain successful competitive employment. This curriculum is provided to the student and the LEA by a certified trainer from a Community Rehabilitation Program.
Jointly-Funded Pre- Employment Transition Specialist - ADRS is committed to providing jointly funded Pre-ETS specialist in local education agencies to assist with the provision of pre-employment transition services. This is accomplished through cooperative agreements with local education agencies (ADRS pays 75% LEA pays 25% percent). The jointly funded pre-employment transition specialist provide pre-employment transition services that are not typically or customarily provided by the LEA. These pre-employment transition services are designed to increase the likelihood of independence and inclusion of students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, in communities, as well as, maximize opportunities for these students for long term competitive integrated employment. Currently, ADRS has 31 jointly funded pre-employment transition specialists in place through third-party cooperative agreements.
State Interagency Transition Team - At the state level, ADRS participates as an equal partner in the Alabama State Interagency Transition Team (SITT). SITT is a multidisciplinary group of 37 representatives from 22 state agencies (ADRS, ALSDE, Alabama Department of Mental Health and Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education) and organizations providing services for students and young adults with disabilities. The purpose of this group is to develop a better understanding of each agency’s role and responsibilities in service delivery for Alabama’s students and young adults with disabilities, and to seek and implement new and better ways of providing secondary special education and transition services.
At the local level, the ADRS has procedures in place to ensure the agency is actively involved in the transition of students with disabilities from school to work. The agency has a counselor assigned to each high school to act as transition counselor. The counselor visits the school on a regularly scheduled basis to meet with teachers and guidance counselors in order to provide vocational rehabilitation information and to receive referrals of students with disabilities in need of rehabilitation services. The VR counselor meets with the student and parents in order to explain rehabilitation services to enable a student’s informed choice regarding these services. School records and other information needed to serve a student as a potentially eligible consumer or needed for eligibility determination is obtained. Once eligibility is determined efforts are made to begin determining rehabilitation needs and a vocational goal. As appropriate and as necessary, the transition counselor can provide the student with a vocational evaluation while still in high school in order to assist a student in determining an appropriate and feasible vocational goal. When invited to attend, counselors make every effort to participate in IEP meetings. This provides the counselor the opportunity to discuss pre- employment transition services needed by the student, as well as address any issues in the IEP related to disability. The counselor also provides information regarding accommodations the student may need related to disability. Per ADRS policy, when transition services are being provided to an individual (student) with a disability who is also eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is prepared in coordination with the appropriate LEA and includes a summary of the relevant elements of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for that individual. The ADRS transition counselor will complete an IPE on each student determined eligible for vocational rehabilitation services by the time the student leaves the school setting.