DVR Youth and Transition Services
Vocational Rehabilitation Information
The Vocational Rehabilitation, also known as "VR", is a Bureau of Rehabilitation program that has a primary goal of assisting interested individuals who have disabilities to get and keep a job. VR can assist students with disabilities in coordinating information and resources as they transition from high school to adult life. This is a time-limited program. Generally speaking, once an individual is employed for at least 90 days in a job agreed upon by the individual and the VR counselor, services are ended.
We encourage schools and others, such as medical specialists, counselors, other state agencies, parents and students themselves, to make referrals toward the end of their sophomore or beginning of their junior year of high school. A referral of a student while in high school allows time for students and their VR counselors to start working towards the students’ employment goals.
To be eligible for VR, a student must first apply for services. The basic standards an applicant must meet to become eligible include:
The documentation can usually be provided by high school and medical records. If further evaluation is needed to document a disability, VR may provide the evaluation as a service to determine eligibility. Eligibility is usually completed within 60 days, though an extension to get further documentation or assessment may be necessary.
The key to success is good planning. The Vocational Rehabilitation counselor will work with the student and other people involved with the student’s planning to assist the student through the process of making informed choices about future jobs and careers.
Good planning includes: consideration of the skills and abilities a person has, the types of jobs an individual wants to consider, where the student is willing to work and live, and what transportation is available. The more flexible the individual can be, the more likely he or she is to become employed. The student and the VR counselor need to work together to develop a plan that will lead to a job.
VR assists in exploring different career opportunities by using the interest and aptitude evaluations, which most high schools provide. As careers are identified as possible goals, VR can provide information about the skills, abilities, and training needed to qualify for employment in a specific career field.
DVR and DBVI, as Divisions within the Department of Labor, have access to labor market information, which can help a person see what type of work is available in their geographic area. If further training is required, counselors can assist in locating or developing specific training programs with special accommodations as required to achieve an employment goal.
The plan can include assistance in the purchase of tools, uniforms or basic equipment needed to start work at a particular job. Assistive technology, vehicle modifications and medical devices, such as hearing aids, may also be considered. Under certain circumstances, VR can assist with payment for some medical/psychological services.
Some students receive the assistance of a Job Developer in the process of seeking work; others may receive Job Coaching services where a coach provides close supervision and support on the job until the individual learns the required skills.
What is Progressive Employment?
Progressive Employment will offer you opportunities for hands-on work-based activities in the community. Having a paid job before high school graduation is one of the best ways to ensure future employment success. Activities can include:
How does Progressive Employment work?
After being found eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services, youth and their families discuss with the assigned VR Counselor if Progressive Employment is the right approach. Youth who are referred to Progressive Employment have access to a team of youth workforce professionals who share their knowledge and creative ideas in regular staffing meetings- leading to expanded opportunities.
Mitchell and Gabby found their employment paths through Progressive Employment. Their journeys are outlined in the video’s below:
Want to learn more?
Elizabeth A Nitzel
Maine Department of Labor
The Transition Career Exploration Workshop (TCEW) is a new curriculum designed to:
To learn more about the TCEW and how it could benefit you, your family member, school or organization, please contact your local DVR office.
For students who have the academic skills and abilities, we encourage the pursuit of higher education when it is required to achieve the planned employment goal. The VR counselor works with the student and schools to ensure that the specific supports needed to succeed are in place. Financial aid is available through most colleges and students are required to apply for financial aid. If you are considering higher education, ask your counselor for more information on students and Vocational Rehabilitation.
Every student’s rehabilitation plan is different since every student has different needs. VR will consider providing any service that is required to achieve the agreed upon vocational goal.
For more information about the way VR works and the services is can provide, see:
The Financial Literacy Guide is designed for families, educators, VR counselors, employment supports, and case managers to assist youth with disabilities to explore financial literacy. This resource contains lessons, activities, local resources, games, and a smartphone app. Download the guide linked below.
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