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Pilot Program Helps Students Find Employment

Starting in September 2013, the Employment First initiative, with assistance from a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), began an Employment First Seamless Transition Pilot. The Seamless Transition model is based on research from ODEP’s Guideposts for Success. The model includes an emphasis on school-based preparation, youth empowerment leading to employment and career goals, work-based experiences, family supports, and connecting activities.

The pilot consists of Employment First teams in four counties: Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas, and Umatilla. The goal is to establish a seamless transition model for transition-aged (16-21 years) people with significant disabilities, with strong emphasis on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), from school to integrated paid work. Seamless transition means that through a coordinated and collaborative process, a student with disabilities will transition from school services directly into a paid job in the community with necessary supported employment services, without a gap in those services.

Local pilot team partners include but are not limited to: 

  • School districts
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
  • Community Developmental Disability Programs (CDDPs)
  • Support Service Brokerages
  • Employment providers
  • Family members
  • Mental health service providers

The primary goal of the pilot is to determine effective strategies that result in the integrated employment of transition-age students.

Every quarter, the pilot teams hold a Community of Practice meeting where team members share information and discuss potential issues, as well as employment successes.

More than 10 students participated in the 2013-14 school year, and more than 20 students will participate in pilots in the 2014-15 school year.