Nebraska's Tool Kit for Systems Involved in the Education of Students in Out-of-Home Care

Tool A-1:  Frequently Asked Questions
Career Planning

Part Five: Post-Secondary Education & Employment
Section A. Career Planning and Vocational Rehabilitation Services

high school students studying togetherThe following summarizes questions about career planning for students in out-of-home care often posed by the primary systems working with these children and youth. The responses are based on federal law, Nebraska statute, administrative rules, regulations and State agency memoranda. However, in some cases, the response may be primarily dictated by the individual student’s situation, needs and career goals. Familiarity and discussion with the school district as to how its policies, procedures and career planning programs may relate to a particular child or youth under a specific set of circumstances is recommended as a matter of “best practice” and may greatly assist in advocating for that student and achievement of his or her academic and vocational goals.

Career Planning

1. What type of career planning services do schools provide students?
The Nebraska Department of Education’s Nebraska Career Education (NCE) program recommends all schools provide a career development process for students that begins in the elementary grades and continues throughout their education, culminating in life-long learning and career management. This process includes career awareness, exploration, preparation and application.

2. What is Nebraska Career Education?
The Nebraska Career Education program provides a conceptual framework that engages students in high-quality, rigorous and relevant education. Educational experiences for personal and professional growth are enhanced through partnerships with business, industry, and workforce and economic development which allows students to turn their passion, interests, talent and ability into successful careers. NCE’s mission is to prepare all students to:

  • Learn through career exploration and technical skill development while meeting academic standards;
  • Earn as productive citizens in a global society; and
  • Live as a contributing member of their community.

For more information about Nebraska Career Education, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education - Nebraska Career Education website:

3. What is the Individual Student Planning process and who should be involved in this?
Individual Student Planning is the process in which the School Counselor works with each student to provide and coordinate ongoing activities designed to assist the youth in establishing educational and vocational goals as well as academic and career planning. The Individual Student Planning process typically includes an individual appraisal, advisement and appropriate placement, with a comprehensive career information system available.

The School Counselor works with the student and his or her parents to develop an Individual Career and Education Plan before registering for high school (9th grade). It is important for the student, parents and school to work together in post-secondary planning and decision-making. When this occurs, the student receives support from both home and school in achieving his or her goals for learning, earning and independent living.

Additional information about the Nebraska School Counseling Model and Individual Student Planning is available on the Nebraska Department of Education – School Counseling website:

4. What types of programs and services are available through the school to assist students with employment while still in high school?
While the type and availability of employment programs and services may differ from school to school, many schools offer Work Study programs and post after-school and summer job opportunities for students. Many industries and businesses rely on youth workers, particularly for shifts after school, on week-ends and over the summer. It is important to alert students to those programs and services so they can begin to establish a positive work history and practical experience which are important factors to future employability.


Nebraska Career Connections

1. What is Nebraska Career Connections?
Nebraska Career Connections is an online resource which provides information and a series of interactive tools for educational and career planning built around a student’s unique interests, talents, abilities and skills. Nebraska Career Connections provides 24/7 flexibility and integration so users can create a life-long account, allowing them to continue career exploration and planning anywhere an Internet connection is available, such as the classroom, library, community center and at home. This website is continually updated and expanded so new information and tools are available to assist and guide educational and career planning.

For more information about Nebraska Career Connections, refer to its website:

2. What types of career planning resources does Nebraska Career Connections provide?
Nebraska Career Connections provides a variety of educational and career planning resources to students of all ages, their parents, educators, other involved adults and employers. Grade-specific opportunities include:

  • Students in 5th and 6th grade can exploration of six (6) general career fields;
  • Students in 7th and 8th grade can learn about sixteen (16) different Career Clusters, explore post-high school options, and create their own Personal Learning Plan;
  • High school students can research career pathway options in more depth and start making plans and decisions for college, financial aid and scholarships;
  • Students who have already graduated from high school can continue to use Nebraska Career Connections to create a resume, practice job interview skills, and look for employment opportunities throughout the state.

3. What is the Middle School Curriculum for Careers (C4C) course?
To promote educational and career planning among younger students, Nebraska Career Connections has developed the Middle School Curriculum for Careers course. The C4C course includes the primary elements of career exploration, use of career information, recommended extended learning, and development of a Personal Learning Plan.

The Middle School Curriculum for Careers Course, including implementation options, lesson plan guidelines, resources, course goals and objectives, is available on the Nebraska Department of Education – Nebraska Career Education website:

Personal Learning Plans

1. What is a Personal Learning Plan?
A Personal Learning Plan (PLP) is a student’s current plan of coursework, history of classes taken, school and community activities, interest inventory results, educational and career goals, and plans for extended learning and employment. The PLP serves as a flexible and relevant plan leading to high school graduation and transition into post-secondary education and employment. Research indicates development and implementation of a PLP encourages students to be fully involved in making decisions about their own learning, earning and independent living goals.

A blank sample Personal Learning Plan and Career Clusters Overview are provided in the Systems Tool Kit - Part Four, Tool F-2. The sample Personal Learning Plan is also available through the Nebraska Department of Education website:

A series of Personal Learning Plans and corresponding Career Clusters specific to a variety of vocations and fields of interest are available at:

Additional information about Personal Learning Plans and Career Clusters is available on the Nebraska Department of Education – Career Education website:

2. At what age should a student start to develop a Personal Learning Plan?
Ideally, the student’s initial Personal Learning Plan will be developed as early as middle school. Students attending middle school or high school should update their Personal Learning Plans at least annually, with assistance from the School Counselor and other staff, as needed. The Personal Learning Plan is intended for continued use throughout a student’s lifetime of learning.

3. Who in the school is responsible for helping students with their Personal Learning Plan?
This may vary with each school district, but the School Counselor usually assists students in developing their Personal Learning Plans, providing guidance in course selection, development of post-secondary plans, and, when appropriate, assistance with the college application, financial aid and scholarship process. It is also critical for the student to have an adult, such as a parent, teacher, mentor, advocate or out-of-home caregiver, involved who can be supportive and ensure he or she is enrolled in and does the course work necessary to gain the academic skills needed to pursue post-secondary education and self-sufficiency in the work place.

4. What should be included in a Personal Learning Plan if the student plans to attend college?
Coursework, grades, college entrance exam scores and other activities necessary to meet college entrance requirements differs among colleges and universities. Information about specific course requirements for high school graduation and college eligibility based on the student’s career interests is available through Nebraska Career Connections.

Additional information about Post-Secondary Education is provided in the Systems Tool Kit - Part Five, Section B.


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