- 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
j. 3. Include an assessment of the needs of individuals with disabilities for transition career services and pre-employment transition services, and the extent to which such services are coordinated with transition services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
ADRS recognizes that the provision of pre-employment transition services on an effective, equitable, statewide basis raises the bar for partnership with our secondary education partners. Section 113 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of
2014 (WIOA) requires VR agencies to go well beyond the level of coordination with
education officials that has been established since 1973. Identification and referral of students is now but one aspect of VR’s coordination with education officials. VR must also have in place processes and procedures for ensuring eligible and potentially eligible students with disabilities are aware of pre-employment transition services, and that they participate whenever the service is needed.
It is fortunate that prior to new WIOA requirements for students with disabilities, ADRS had enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). ADRS maintains a formal Interagency Agreement with the ALSDE for the provision of transition services. At the state level, ADRS participates as an equal partner in the Alabama State Interagency Transition Team. At the local level, the ADRS has a counselor assigned to each high school to act as transition counselor. Furthermore, ADRS has for years been committed to the financial support of jointly funded positions, i.e. Pre-Employment Transition Specialists, in local education agencies to assist with the provision of transition services. Shortly after the final WIOA regulations were released in August of 2016, however, ADRS recognized the need for a comprehensive effort to build upon existing capacity and foster greater connections between ADRS staff and their Department of Education counterparts at the local level.
It is upon the foundation outlined above that ADRS collaborated with the AuburnTransition Leadership Institute to launch an effort entitled Transition Unlimited. Transition Unlimited is an Alabama pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) initiative designed to build capacity and connect services to appropriately implement pre-employment transition services throughout the state. Transition Unlimited accomplishes this through the development of transition teams at the local level. These teams meet face to face to assess the LEA’s unique pre-employment transition needs, documenting these within a web-based “Action Plan.” Each action plan documents levels of need across each of the five pre-employment transition service types, as well as the “who, what, where and when” questions inherent to service provision. Action plans are monitored and followed up upon and all team members have access to the plan via the Transition Unlimited web-portal. In its first year of operation, Transition Unlimited held 18 meetings across the state with representatives from over 300 school systems statewide. Through the efforts of nearly 750 persons in attendance, 355 high schools developed Action Plans. Only five public high schools in the state failed to develop a plan. Once plans are developed, team members given online access to the Transition Unlimited site, wherein they can monitor progress, receive technical assistance, share resources, and collaborate to achieve action items.
Findings gathered from these 355 action plans suggest that student needs for pre- employment transition services vary by school system and by characteristics unique to each individual student. Individual variation of student Pre-ETS needs were dependent upon multiple factors such as age and grade level. In several schools, students participated in school led Pre-ETS activities during grades 9 and 10. Variation of Pre-ETS needs by school system was found to be relative to a system’s availability of transition focused resources. Transition Unlimited helped illustrate that while some schools have ample human and capital resources for transition related services, others do not. These findings lend support to the assertion made above regarding the demand for Pre-ETS — not all students who may benefit from Pre-ETS are in need of these services within each and every academic year.
After completion of the first year of Transition Unlimited, ADRS administration felt that the initiative’s value as a tool to extend coordination with education officials for the provision of pre-employment transition services had been proven. In the summer of 2017, ADRS elected to renew Transition Unlimited for the 2018 fiscal year. It is anticipated that the initiative’s collaborative model and tools will continue to be useful for years to come.