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j. 1. E. Who are youth with disabilities and students with disabilities, including, as appropriate, their need for pre-employment transition services or other transition services.

Current Narrative:

In assessing the needs of youth and students with disabilities, research from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition documents unsatisfactory outcomes achieved by youth with disabilities exiting school. They have difficulty accessing employment, education and community services. There is a need to bridge the information gap between schools, rehabilitation services, community agencies and employers.

Based on December 2018 core data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary (DESE) Office of Special Education, the number of students, ages 16 to 21 and currently enrolled in school, with individualized education plans (IEPs) is 20,697. This number represents students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for pre-employment transition services or other transition services. MVR further disaggregated this data by MVR district office so that school districts were grouped together based on the MVR office that serves each school. Therefore, the local MVR office knows the specific number of students, ages 16 to 21 with IEPs, for each of the schools that they serve.

MVR has received feedback from many stakeholders such as consumers, parents, school districts and employers regarding the need for services for youth and students with disabilities. There are limited competitive integrated employment opportunities for this population especially in rural areas.

MVR is answering these pre-employment transition needs of eligible or potentially eligible students with multiple strategies that supplement the MVR transition services that have traditionally been provided by its staff and partners. These strategies include summer work experience programs coordinated with CRPs and similar programs with CILs. The VR Summer Work Experience Program was developed in partnership with CRPs. MVR offered paid summer work experience opportunities in integrated settings for VR-eligible students with disabilities. In addition to working, the students received classroom training in soft skills. The CIL Summer Pre-Employment Transition Services Program provided potentially VR-eligible students with disabilities access to job exploration activities, workplace readiness training, social support and instruction on self-advocacy including peer mentoring. MVR collaborated with businesses and school districts to provide services through these programs.

MVR is contracting with the University of Missouri, College of Education, to provide assistance with the provision of pre-employment transition services through regional pre-employment specialists. The university hired 43 specialists, all certified teachers, to work in collaboration with local education agencies and MVR to provide statewide pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities who are potentially eligible for VR services. Seven of the 43 provide pre-employment transition services in the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled.

MVR is working on two pilot programs designed to provide the pre-employment transition service of peer mentoring for students with disabilities involved in the justice and foster care systems. MVR is working with the family court system and the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division to provide services for this underserved population. Through these programs, MVR is partnering with CILs, the University of Missouri’s College of Education, Missouri State University, the Office of Workforce Development and an employer mentor.

Five deaf/hard of hearing students were sent to the Rochester Institute of Technology for a pre-employment transition services camp with MVR funding. MVR is also working with Wonderland Camp on an internship program for both students and youth with disabilities. This past year, MVR sponsored students and youth with disabilities to participate in the Governor’s Council on Disability Missouri Youth Leadership Forum that focuses on leadership, citizenship, and social and career development skills. MVR is utilizing its business outreach specialists to work with employers on creating work experiences for youth and students with disabilities. And, it is collaborating with its WIOA partners in providing seamless, coordinated services to youth and students with disabilities.