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

Tool A-2:  Frequently Asked Questions
Vocational Rehabilitation

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


male student at computerThe following summarizes questions about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) often posed by the primary systems involved in the education of students in out-of-home care. 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 situations and needs. Familiarity and discussion with VR staff as to how policies, procedures and protocols may relate to a particular 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.

For more information about Vocational Rehabilitation, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education – Vocational Rehabilitation website: http://www.vr.ne.gov, or call toll-free: 1-877-NE REHAB (1-877-637-3422).

 

Vocational Rehabilitation


1. What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

The Nebraska Department of Education’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Division is the federal and state-funded program which provides vocational and education-related services leading to employment for individuals with disabilities. Since 1921, the Nebraska VR program has helped clients prepare for, get and keep a job.

2. What types of services does Vocational Rehabilitation provide?
Rather than take a “one size fits all” approach to providing services, Vocational Rehabilitation emphasizes individualized collaborations based on the unique needs of both the VR client and the employer. Those services may include:

  • Vocational and academic assessment;
  • Individualized career planning;
  • Pre-employment readiness activities, such as career exploration, job searches, resume writing, job applications, mock interviews, interpersonal behavior in the workplace, communication and social skills, dealing with authority, productive work habits and job retention skills;
  • Job placement assistance;
  • Vocational skills and on-the-job training;
  • Job coaching, as appropriate;
  • On-the-job evaluations;
  • Employment follow-up and job retention assistance;
  • Employment Warranty (EW) monitoring and services;
  • Assistance with short-term transportation, work clothes and tools; and
  • Adult Education (AE) and General Educational Development (GED) preparatory classes, as applicable.

An overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Process is provided in the Systems Tool Kit - Part Five, Tool A-3.



Vocational Rehabilitation Eligibility and Application


1. Who is eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational Rehabilitation works with individuals who have disabilities which impact their ability to get or keep a job. The disability may be a learning or cognitive disability, an emotional or psychological disability, or a physical disability. The disability must be significant enough to be a barrier to employment and require VR services. In addition to meeting eligibility requirements, the potential client must have a current valid State photo identification card and Social Security card to receive VR services.

2. What is the minimum age of eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation?
Vocational Rehabilitation works with a wide range of ages, including high school students and youth who have dropped out of school. Both juvenile and adult clients are served through the VR Adult Employment Program. The VR Transition Program serves students with disabilities, typically sixteen (16) years of age or older. There is no upper age limit for VR eligibility.

For more information about the VR Adult Employment Program, refer to the overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Process provided in the Systems Tool Kit - Part Five, Tool A-3. Additional information about the VR Transition Program is provided in the section below.


3. Is a youth involved in the juvenile justice or criminal justice system eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?

Yes, if the youth meets Vocational Rehabilitation’s eligibility requirements. However, court-involvement is not considered a disability. Evidence-based practices have demonstrated the importance of employment in reducing recidivism by offering a viable and productive alternative to continued delinquent behavior, criminal activity, court involvement and incarceration. Toward this end, VR works in partnership with a variety of juvenile justice and criminal justice agencies to provide appropriate and effective employment-related programs for at-risk and delinquent youth as well as adult criminal offenders.

One of the defining features of the VR-Justice System Programs is their dual focus on identifying and specifically selecting employers well-suited to work with court-involved clients while simultaneously assisting the youth in developing skills which match that employer’s needs. Ongoing employment monitoring and follow-up promote a positive and successful outcome for both.

For more information about VR-Juvenile Justice and Corrections-Based Programs, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education – Vocational Rehabilitation webpage: http://www.vr.ne.gov/partner/jjs.html


4. Can a youth be court-ordered to participate in Vocational Rehabilitation?

No. While a potential client’s participation in Vocational Rehabilitation may be suggested or recommended by the Court, Probation Officer, Parole Officer, Juvenile Services Officer (JSO), Case Manager (Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services or private contractor), or treatment team, the youth’s involvement must be completely voluntary.

5. How does someone apply for Vocational Rehabilitation services?
To apply for Vocational Rehabilitation services, contact the nearest local VR Office to schedule an appointment with VR staff.

For more information about applying for the VR Adult Employment Program, refer to the overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Process provided in the Systems Tool Kit - Part Five, Tool A-3.

To locate the nearest Vocational Rehabilitation Office serving your community, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education – Vocational Rehabilitation Interactive Map and click on the county where you live: http://www.vr.ne.gov/offices/counties.html, or call toll-free: 1-877-NE REHAB (1-877-637-3422).


6. Can a youth still work with Vocational Rehabilitation if he or she moves to another city?

Yes, Vocational Rehabilitation has offices serving every region of Nebraska. Once a client notifies VR staff that he or she will be moving, information about the VR Office nearest to the new location can be provided.

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities


1. What is Vocational Rehabilitation’s Transition Program?

Vocational Rehabilitation provides a Transition Program for high school students with disabilities, typically sixteen (16) years of age or older. VR staff work with the students to assist in preparing for life after high school, including planning for post-secondary education and/or employment. Transition services include activities and supports designed to assist the youth in identifying his or her interests and strengths and developing the skills needed to be successful in employment and independent living. (Source: Nebraska Department of Education - Title 92, NAC Chapter 51-007.07A(9)

2. How long does Vocational Rehabilitation provide transition services to students with disabilities?
Students with disabilities may participate in the VR Transition Program until they graduate from high school. They may continue to receive services and support through the VR Adult Employment Program if eligibility continues after graduation.

For more information about Vocational Rehabilitation’s Transition Program, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education – VR Transition Program webpage: http://www.vr.ne.gov/transition/indexhtml

To locate the Vocational Rehabilitation staff assigned to each high school, refer to the Nebraska Department of Education – VR Transition Program Interactive Map: http://www.vr.ne.gov/transition/blog_map.html, and click on the county where the high school is located. This information is also available by calling toll-free: 1-877-NE REHAB (1-877-637-3422).


Job Training and Education


1. What types of education services are available through Vocational Rehabilitation?

In recognition that employment is more difficult to find and keep without a high school diploma, all Vocational Rehabilitation-justice system programs include an education component. Adult Education and GED preparatory classes are offered in-house through several of those programs. VR staff may also assist clients, sixteen (16) years of age and older, enroll in AE/GED classes through a community-based program.

VR places an emphasis on facilitating the youth’s transition from school to work by preparing the client for entry into the work force. For VR clients who have graduated from high school or received their GED, assistance in pursuing further education and vocational opportunities, such as college, trade school, professional certificate programs and apprenticeships, may also be available.

2. Does Vocational Rehabilitation work with students while they are in college?

Yes. Vocational Rehabilitation may assist a student with post-secondary education if his or her career goals require a college education and the ability to complete that particular course of study has been demonstrated. Once the youth has completed college, VR may assist with job placement and employment follow-up.

 

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