Transition to Adulthood Resource Guide

Goals and Activities: Preparing for Employment

It’s never too early for students to begin learning pre-employment skills, including job exploration, social (and other) workplace skills, and self-advocacy at work. Career counseling is very beneficial, especially for students who have no idea what they want to do.

Some ways to explore different work environments are through:

– volunteer or mentoring opportunities
– paid or unpaid internships
– apprenticeships
– actual on-the-job paid employment
These experiences not only build students' resumes, but also build self-confidence, self-knowledge, and self-esteem.

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) works in partnership with students, school districts, and other agencies to provide pre-employment and employment services to students, young adults, and adults with disabilities. DOR services help individuals to obtain competitive employment in integrated work settings.

DOR can help people with disabilities gain access to vocational assistance. They do this for people who are:

– still in high school
– age 18 – 22 years in a Transition Program (which allows them to remain in the public education system)
– high school graduates with a diploma

High school graduates with a diploma can either choose to work right out of high school, go on to a two-year or four-year college, and even continue on to graduate school.

Explore what DOR has to offer students who are still in school and young adults who are no longer in school:

This DOR presentation on DOR Student Services, found on the CA Transition Alliance website, may also be helpful: (PDF)

Explore local WorkAbility programs as well. WAI (WorkAbility I) is a program that is funded and administered by the California Department of Education. WAI coordinates with other agencies, like DOR and the EDD (Employment Development Department), to support students with IEPs. They assist students by giving them the opportunity to complete their secondary education while developing the skills for competitive employment and successful outcomes:

WorkAbility II, WorkAbility III and Workability IV programs, while not available in all areas, may be appropriate service options as well:

Transition Partnership Program (TPP) is a statewide vocational educational and work placement program. It can be established through an interagency agreement between LEAs (Local Education Agencies) and DOR. The TPP provides vocational services to help students with disabilities transition from school to employment successfully.

These services could include:
– DOR Student Services
– pre-employment
– job development
– short-term support service

The TPP could be available to secondary and post secondary students, depending on the area in CA. Not all school districts, transition programs, and community colleges have a TPP.

Disability Rights California, the largest disability rights group in the nation, has an informative publication on DOR, TPPs and WorkAbility programs: (PDF)

If the student is also a Regional Center client graduating with a Diploma or a Certificate of Completion, the Department of Developmental Services, through the Regional Center, could assist with vocational support if necessary:

The Paid Internship Program (PIP) may also be available to students who are Regional Center Clients. The purpose of this program is to increase the vocational skills and abilities of Regional Center clients who choose, through their Individual Program Plan (IPP) and person-centered planning process, to participate in an internship. School districts may also be vendorized by the Regional Center for PIP: (PDF)

The Office of Disability Employment Policy publishes Soft Skills to Pay the Bills – Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success:

There are additional resources available here: (PDF)

Disability Benefits 101 helps both youth and parents learn how to manage school, work, and benefits:

Check out CA Transition Alliance’s I Want to Work I Know I Can: (PDF)


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