Introduction

WHO: Building a Dream Team

WHAT: A Collaborative Process

HOW: Implementation & Best Practices

WHO:

Building a Dream Team

First Steps

The first step in creating a collaborative effort in order to support students in obtaining competitive integrated employment is to create a coalition of local community partners. These community partners will include:

  • Transition Educators
  • Community Rehabilitation Providers/Adult Service Providers (Employment Specialists)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Counselors
  • Division of Services for People with Disabilities (Case Managers)
  • Independent Living Centers

This team of multi-agency partners will work together to combine supports and services and braid funding streams for identified students with the intended outcome of meaningful, competitive integrated employment for each individual student.

This model of collaboration can be implemented for any student who can benefit from focused, coordinated support. An investment of time is needed to build the team, but once established, educators and team members will realize the benefits of collaboration, rather than relying on one person or one agency to support the goal of employment.

How do we design a "dream team"?
Who are potential team members?

Each of these partners have a needed role on your transition team. By bringing local representatives from each of these agencies together to formulate a team, students will be linked to each of the services and team members can coordinate employment supports.

Educators: Team Lead –
A Collaborator, Connector, and Communicator

Identify a person who can function as the leader for the transition team. This role is typically filled by a transition educator but could also be a paraeducator or other school personnel who has consistent access to students and interacts with the students and their families on a regular basis. The person in the role of Team Lead should be willing to serve as a champion for the students and have the principles and beliefs that are listed in the introduction. The team lead is not required to know every detail or process, but they should be someone committed to push through difficult challenges that arise and strive to creatively solve problems.

Examples of people within a School District that could take this role on:

  • Transition Educators
  • Paraprofessional
  • Career Tech Educator (CTE)
  • Guidance Counselors
  • School Administrators 

In addition to the team lead, additional transition educators and school personnel should be part of the team in order to bring additional school-related resources to the team.

The educator/school personnel should be responsible for the following:

  • Provide parents and families with information on the process and expectations of the School to Work timeline and activities
  • Begin the Positive Personal Profile (see more in HOW section) and document the student’s specific skills, abilities, experiences and interests
  • Provide multiple and various job shadow and/or work experience opportunities prior to graduation
  • Collect and analyze data on student progress
  • Coordinate and with other service providers and agencies
  • Ensure benefits planning services for students are completed prior to graduation or aging out
  • Complete the Vocational Rehabilitation application process

Educators are often the team members who have spent the most time with students and have first hand knowledge of the experiences, interests and abilities of students. Sharing this knowledge with employment providers is critical in the exploration process that employment specialist providers oversee. 

Division of Services for
People with Disabilities (DSPD)

Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD), including Support Coordinators, provides funding for supports for people with disabilities to lead self-determined lives by overseeing Medicaid home and community-based service waivers for more than 5,000 people who have disabilities in Utah. Support includes community living, day services, supported employment services, and many more.

ID/DD Case Managers (DSPD Support Coordinators) 

If the participating student is receiving DSPD services through a Medicaid Waiver, they will have a Support Coordinator.  The Support Coordinator brings insight to the team of what is important to and for the student and can speak to the factors that may lead to successful employment. Responsibilities of the Support Coordinator may include:   

  • Provide support and information to student and family
  • Encourage employment in the community
  • Coordinate services that support employment and other goals related to the student’s person centered plan and desired goals
  • Provide support between team and student and family
  • Authorize funding for long-term job coaching when needed 

Community Rehabilitation Providers:

A Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) is a business that supports job seekers with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment. You may also hear CRPs referred to as Employment Providers or Provider Organizations. Each CRP employs Employment Consultants who deliver individualized employment services to students and adults with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment. The Employment Consultant will work with each job seeker to discover their talents and interests, match these talents and interests to the needs of an employer and provide on-the-job support as needed. You may also hear that CRPs provide Supported Employment or Customized Employment. See definitions of Supported and Customized Employment in the Glossary. CRPs are paid to provide these services from Vocational Rehabilitation or the Division of Services for People with Disabilities. There may be multiple CRPs within your team for various students.

CRP responsibilities include:

  • Coordination and delivery of Supported and Customized Employment Services, including Discovery
  • Participate in monthly team meetings 
  • Communicate with educators on the process of Discovery and Job Development 
  • Facilitate employment planning meetings for students as needed
  • Gather input from additional team members
  • Seek input from educators on information they know about students
  • Negotiate customized employment position with business and employer 
  • Keep information about students confidential, respectful, and professional within the team 

How to Connect a CRP with Vocational Rehabilitation:

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors:

It’s important to have local Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselors participate as team members, including the support and engagement of local level VR supervisors. VR is a key player of the team, as they provide funding for many of the important employment supports. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act, VR should collaborate with schools in providing Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Services VR can offer include:

  1. Job exploration counseling
  2. Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school, after school, or community-based opportunities
  3. Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs at any institute of higher education such as a local college or trade school
  4. Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living
  5. Instruction in self-advocacy, including peer mentoring
  6. Authorize funding for a Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) to provide employment services such as: job development, job placement, job coaching, and ongoing employment support services

For more information: http://www.wintac.org/topic-areas/pre-employment-transition-services 

As a team member, the VR Counselor should assist the student in:

  • Explaining the eligibility process
  • Providing an overview of Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) to students and families
  • Guiding educators in connecting with provider organizations and areas of expertise such as customized employment, or pre employment transition services
  • Sharing information about paid internship opportunities 
  • Providing support and guidance to teachers as it relates to PreETs
  • Coordinating benefits planning for students and their family

Workforce Innovation and
Opportunity Act Youth Counselors:

WIOA (WIOA) Youth Counselors are employed by the Department of Workforce Services. These counselors offer support to youth in areas such as:

  • Counseling on career paths 
  • Offering paid employment internship opportunities and on-the-job training
  • 
Developing leadership skills

  • Exploring community leadership and mentoring opportunities

  • Obtaining a high school diploma or GED

  • Completing vocational training or college


Within the team, a WIOA Youth Counselor will:

  • Assist with eligibility, completing application for Division of Workforce Services  
  • Provide resources and coordination for possible individualized paid internships 
  • Participate in monthly team meetings 
  • Partner with Community Rehabilitation Providers and VR to develop paid internship opportunity

Independent Living Centers:

If your team is located near one of Utah’s six Independent Living Centers (ILC), it is helpful to connect with ILC staff who can provide information on services and employment supports their Center provides to transition age youth. ILCs staff Independent Living Specialists who can give support and assistance to the student and family as students apply for services with partnering agencies or additional community services and programs. ILCs provide supports at any phase of life and are a good resource for transition age youth to be connected to.

How to Get Local Partners to the Table

Now you know which agencies should be at the table to partner in a transition team, but identifying the individual agency representatives that serve locally can be a challenge. This section is meant to help you bring strong and dedicated partners to the team to collaborate with and provide positive outcomes for students seeking employment.

Connecting with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) provides designated VR Student Transition Counselors to every public high school and charter school, to act as a liaison and direct contact for VR services.  If you are not already connected to your school’s Counselor, you can find a list of contacts for each school district, charter school and private school on Workforce Services Rehabilitation website under student transition services:

https://jobs.utah.gov/usor/vr/services/student/index.html

There you can also find the contact information for the USOR Transition Program Specialist.

Identifying and Connecting with CRPs

Your local VR counselors may be familiar with the CRPs that work in the region of your school.  They might even have experience working with them and can offer guidance in identifying and selecting CRPs that provide Supported and Customized Employment services. You can also find a list of CRPs and their provided services here:

https://jobs.utah.gov/usor/vr/partners/crpapproved.pdf

When considering different CRPs to bring in as partners to the transition team, consider these points:

  • Is the CRP currently providing or capable of providing community employment services to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities residing in Utah?
  • Is the CRP a current contractor and/or vendor with both the Division of Services for People with Disabilities and with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation?
  • Can the CRP commit employment specialists to be dedicated to working with students to provide customized employment or supported employment. 
  • Agency leadership commitment to supporting staff participation in collaborative School to Work Transition Team work. 

Additionally, attached are questions that may be useful when considering a CRP to work with students and be a partnering member of the transition team : Link to Questions

Connecting with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth Counselors

Youth Counselors provide support, collaborate and coordinate internships with support to enhance individual digital portfolio/digital resume. To find who your local WIOA Counselor is, contact your local Department of Workforce Services office. To find your office, visit here: 

https://jobs.utah.gov/jsp/officesearch/#/map

To learn more about what your local WIOA Youth Counselor does, visit here: 

https://jobs.utah.gov/wioa/wioayouth.html

Connecting with Your Independent Living Center

To find the Independent Living Center nearest you, please visit: http://usilc.org/il-centers.

What do we do when there is a new partner?

Role shifting and turnover of team partners is normal but when team members change, it can create potential for disconnect. When you have a new team member, it is important to not only ensure that they have the information needed to understand what the project and team is for, but to also ensure they are a good fit for the team.

Information to Share

Partners need to know: (1) the purpose and value of collaborating as a transition team, (2) their role as their agency representative within the team, (3) what other agencies a part of the team and what services they are able to provide to students, (4) contact information for each team member and their agency, (5) which students are accessing coordinated services through your team, and (6) background and updates on each of the students.

Synergy and Why Intentions Matter

When everyone is on the same page in belief of employment for all students and are positive about the barriers that may occur, the team can move forward in a positive and meaningful way. If not, this can hinder the entire process from people getting frustrated and giving up or pushing off services that may lead to successful outcomes. Adding a new member to the team who does not have the same beliefs or expectations can lead to these barriers, with the students ultimately being impacted the most from this way of negative thinking.

By ensuring your new team member has the same belief and goals in mind, you can move forward in finding successful, competitive integrated employment for your students. You can do your best to figure out if a new member shares your team’s vision by asking the following questions. If a new member does not share this vision, it may be best to request a new representative within their agency.

Questions to Ask

Asking new team members questions on their beliefs, experience, and willingness to collaborate can help you know what supports this person may need when first joining the team and what they can bring to the table. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, just that they are willing and able to collaborate to work towards the common goal of the team. Examples of questions that may uncover needed information on shared visions and goals include:

  1. What are your beliefs about employment for students regardless of the level of support they need?
  2. What experience do you have supporting students with gaining employment?
  3. Do you have experience or interest in collaborating and sharing information with a team?
  4. What skills or attributes are you able to bring to the team?
  5. What experience do you have working with families with students who have disabilities? If you have experience, what is your approach to communicating with families?