Over the course of my career, I have worked with many families of at-risk children from infancy to adulthood. By the time a child reaches high school, parents often assume they are at the tail end of this ever-challenging journey. Many are surprised to learn the transition from school to work is anything but easy. Families frequently complain that the process is not comprehensive enough and students are ill prepared for employment. However, I am happy to report big changes have taken place within both our educational and vocational rehabilitation (VR) systems.
On the education front, students may now earn a new commencement credential called a C-DOS. This stands for Career Development and Occupational Studies. In contrast to the IEP diploma, C-DOS includes real preparation and skills training for post-school employment. For students with disabilities, who earn a regular high school diploma, it provides an additional credential that recognizes their “work readiness” skills. This is a very promising development that better positions youth in transition for long-term employment success.
Last summer, our government took a big step forward by enacting a new law: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Part of this law requires VR funds specifically for transition age youth. It also allows for a whole new set of youth services called Pre-Employment Transition. WIOA expands opportunities for out-of-school youth who have a high school diploma, or an equivalency, and still require work skills training. The majority of this funding must serve youth ages 16 to 24.
It is reassuring to finally see proactive steps and effective resources being put in place for youth in transition. ICD has also adapted its programming to include more youth specific service lines such as our Work Readiness and Child Care Worker Program. I welcome students or parents seeking more information to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawn Mastoridis is the Executive Director at ICD.