“Every one of my kids is walking out of my class with a resume.”
Victoria Campbell, a Transition Coordinator at the Alleghany Intermediate Unit’s Sunrise School in Monroeville, PA, is opening doors for students with special needs through pre-employment transition services. By developing a strong partnership between the schools, Vocational Rehabilitation Offices, and community businesses, she has improved classroom outcomes for teachers, brought hope to parents, and helped students realize their potential.
A New Paradigm: Start Transition Services Earlier
Before the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was passed, students with special needs would need to get through graduation, then Vocational Rehabilitation agencies assisted with job placements. The new law mandates that schools and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies must start collaborating earlier, when students are around age 14, to provide job skills and career development opportunities prior to graduation. Coordinating services between agencies is easier said than done, but according to Ms. Campbell, “We know that that early transition makes our kids successful.”
Coordination Between Providing Career and Life Skills in Schools and Workplace Opportunities is Key to Workplace Success
“It’s given us hope as well because now we’re able to see that even though she’s autistic, she can be a productive member of society.” Tammie Lippert, parent.
Ms. Campbell works within the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to coordinate career readiness curriculum specifically for students with special needs. Then, she matches students with internships in businesses throughout their community. The internships reinforce life skills taught in the classroom, like time management, making eye contact, and planning transportation.
For a Well-Rounded Worker, it is Important to Remember the Soft Skills
“Sometimes our kids need several experiences to master something,” she said. “We have to think not just about the ‘hard skills’ — about doing the job. For our kids it’s the ‘soft skills’ also. The new partnership is allowing students to learn more of these skills earlier at real jobs.”