Transition Success Requires a Solid Foundation
Authors: Kevin Markel, Program Specialist for Transition and Pre-ETS, Vocational Rehabilitation Division, Texas Workforce Commission
Keywords: Pre-Employment Transition Services, Pre-ETS, summer programs, Texas Workforce Commission, TWC, Texas Workforce Solutions—Vocational Rehabilitation Services, TWS-VRS, STEM, SEAL, Summer Earn and Learn Program, Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center, CCRC
Listen to the Article
Transition Success Requires a Solid Foundation
For students with disabilities, the importance of building and fostering a solid foundation for life after high school is essential for success in postsecondary training and employment. The Texas Workforce Solutions—Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS) program is committed to assisting students with this foundation by offering a variety of services for students ages 14–22 with disabilities who are attending school (public, private, home, technical school, or college). These essential foundational services are called Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and include:
- Career exploration counseling and activities
- Work-based learning experiences ranging from informational interviews and worksite tours to paid work experiences and internships
- Assistance and counseling around postsecondary options and readiness
- Independent living and social skills training for workplace readiness
- Self-advocacy instruction and peer mentoring
Students with disabilities who participate and take advantage of opportunities in these Pre-ETS areas are not only better prepared for postsecondary training and future employment, but they are also better suited for participation, after high school, in other more specific VR services available through TWS-VRS. When students participate in Pre-ETS, they have the time and opportunity to develop a good working rapport with their respective TWC-VRS counselors, and in turn, they will typically gain a better understanding of the nature and scope of additional VR services needed for a successful outcome.
For example, Demetria Ober, a student at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), is studying social work and planning on entering that field of work after she completes her postsecondary training. Demetria has received services through TWS-VRS for a number of years and was well prepared to take on postsecondary training. Demetria participated in numerous foundational Pre-ETS opportunities over these years, including career exploration and workplace readiness classes through a Pre-ETS vendor, the Daydream Summer Work Program, peer mentoring services through the National Federation of the Blind in Texas, and a paid internship at AAFES (Army Airforce Exchange Service) in Denton, Texas. These, along with other Pre-ETS programs, have assisted Demetria in taking full advantage of other VR services, such as assistive technology services, VR teacher services, orientation and mobility training, and other support services for her academic pursuits. All of these services have helped her excel at TWU. In fact, Demetria spent the 2021–2022 school year in a study abroad program in Spain. If you are interested in learning more about all the possible VR services available during postsecondary training, please see the college handbook under the Blind Specialty Publication section of this site: Vocational Rehabilitation Division Publications | Texas Workforce Commission. Demetria’s mother also provides more information in her article in the Family Wisdom Section of this issue of TX SenseAbilities, “A Mother’s Reflections on Parenting a Child with a Visual Impairment.”
Other students across the state are also benefiting in their post-high school pursuits, whether in training or in employment because of the solid foundation through Pre-ETS participation. As we look ahead to summer Pre-ETS activities in 2022, we encourage you to reach out to your local TWC-VRS counselor and inquire about the following programs available across the state. Additionally, your counselor will also be aware of other local and regional Pre-ETS activities that are available and may be of interest.
- Explore STEM Summer Camps—These camps are offered to students with disabilities free of charge so that they can explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields and learn about STEM careers.
- Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL)—In this program, students with disabilities receive training to be prepared for work and then are employed in a summer job that can last up to six weeks. TX SenseAbilities shared a previous article on the SEAL program in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue.
- Year-Round Paid Work Experience—This program helps find after-school, weekend, and summer jobs for students with disabilities, and prepares them to work in those jobs. Each paid work experience can last up to 12 weeks in length, with a maximum of 20 hours per week.
- College Prep Program through CCRC—The Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC) in Austin partners with Texas State University to offer a residential college readiness workshop for high school students who are blind or visually impaired. The flyer for this summer’s Summer College Prep Program is included in this issue of TX SenseAbilities, and a previous article about how CCRC prepares young adults with life-long skills can be found in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue.
If you are a student with a disability, or know of a student with a disability who is not currently connected with TWS-VRS, please consider reaching out so that we can partner and contribute to help them build a solid foundation for future success. For more information about these and many other Texas Workforce Solutions services that are available, or to refer a student with a disability to TWS-VRS, please contact your nearest TWS-VRS office or contact TWS Vocational Rehabilitation Inquiries at 512–936–6400.