Families can support the transition of their student from school to supported employment in many ways. At the core of most of these activities is encouraging the development of self-awareness, self-advocacy, independence and self-management skills. Families can also play a key role in encouraging their student to explore and experience a number of different work and work related opportunities at home, in school, and in the community.
Families can support transition to supported employment by:
· Promoting and reinforcing the development and application of functional academic skills (e.g., reading, writing, math, self management, organization, communication, etc.). This is especially critical in preschool and elementary school. The functional application of these skills in "real world" settings becomes increasingly more important as students get older.
· Encouraging and reinforcing the learning of personal management activities at home (a.k.a., activities of adult living)
· Encouraging vocational, employment, and related opportunities in school, at home, and in the community. These can include chores and other responsibilities at home, take your son/daughter to work days, job shadowing, and volunteer opportunities (e.g., church, community organizations, etc.). On the whole, students whose work experience includes a history of regular chores at home have better employment outcomes.
· Listening, encouraging, and respecting interests; encouraging student choice and decision making
· Encouraging the exploration and use of accommodations and adaptive strategies that could be used in a variety of school and employment situations. Independence is more important than trying to learn to do something the "typical" way.
· Familiarizing themselves with all possible post school options and services (specialized and generic); building relationships and partnerships with key players. Research and help your son / daughter connect with any and all agencies and services that may be helpful in their transition (see the "Resources" section)
· Promoting community awareness, mobility (public transit, driving, walking, other), as well as participation, familiarity, presence, independence, and competence. Get them out into the community experiencing typical activities as early and as often as is feasible. Work will take up a small portion of each week.
· Activating and using networks of family and friends. Let your relatives, friends and neighbors know about your son/daughter’s dreams, aspirations, capacities, and plans. Many job opportunities can be developed through family contacts. Don’t overlook these for your son/daughter with a developmental disability.
· Building and maintaining a transition home file that includes copies of some or all of the following:
· Most recent IEPs and transition plans; person centered and futures plans
· Most recent special education re-evaluation
· Other assessments and evaluations, including relevant medical, therapy, vocational, and psychological
· Resume, employment history, and any work evaluations (paid and volunteer, including in-school work experiences); note experiences that indicated a good match with interests and abilities, adaptive strategies, learning styles, as well as things to avoid
· Letters of reference or recommendation from employers, teachers, etc.
· All applications, correspondence, and documentation exchanged with adult service agencies
· Start a transition contact log. Make sure to include names, agencies, address and phone numbers, along with a record of all communications.
Parent Brief: Preparing for Employment on the Home Front