High school students with disabilities that affect their ability to plan and prepare for work may apply for transition services through our Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) program.
Services are custom-tailored for individual students. They include helping students to set employment goals and identify the steps and services necessary for achieving their goals. Students' written plans might call for on-the-job training or for degree programs at two- or four-year technical school or college.
Common services might include interest and ability testing, informational interviewing or career exploration services. Other services include payment for materials and equipment, assistive technology, job placement, and job-seeking skills training.
VRS staff work with each student and their IEP team to create an individualized employment plan that helps students make informed choices about their job goals and identifies which services are needed and who will provide them. Students may decide to develop plans on their own or with the help of someone of their choosing, but it is important to know that our VRS staff must approve these plans prior to purchasing services.
The best time to seek a referral for services is usually about two years before high school graduation, typically near the beginning of the student's junior year. Students with disabilities who are planning to leave school before graduation or who have already dropped out may seek an immediate referral to the school's vocational rehabilitation counselor.
Vocational rehabilitation counselors are assigned to every high school in Minnesota. They help students find full-time work in the regular labor market and earn the same wages and benefits for the position as any other worker.
In order to qualify for services, students must meet certain eligibility criteria. They include:
Documentation of a disability is usually obtained from the student's school assessment or from a medical/psychological provider's statement or records. If the student is not able to provide this documentation, the high school's vocational rehabilitation counselor will obtain it with written consent.
There is no charge for counseling, job placement and several other services. For some purchased services, a sliding fee schedule based on family income may apply. A family whose income is higher than the guidelines may be asked to pay part or all of the cost.
Each fall, our vocational rehabilitation counselors contact appropriate school staff to establish a calendar for visiting schools and meeting with students. They work out a mutually acceptable plan for communicating with staff and students.
A high school student with a disability that affects his or her ability to plan and prepare for work should have the opportunity to learn about vocational rehabilitation services.
The best time for a referral is usually about two years before high school graduation, typically near the beginning of the junior year. If a student with a disability is planning to leave school before graduation -- or has dropped out -- an immediate referral to the high school's VRS counselor makes good sense.
Individual schools may have differing procedures for making referrals for vocational rehabilitation services. Be sure and follow your school's procedures. School staff and the school's assigned VRS counselor work together with a student to create a plan for future success..
It is not necessary for you to know whether a student is eligible before you make a referral for services. Once you make the referral, we'll make the assessments.
In order to qualify for vocational rehabilitation services, students must meet the following basic eligibility criteria. There must be:
Documentation of a disability is usually obtained from the student's school assessment or from a psychological report or from a medical provider's statements or records. If the student is not able to provide this documentation, the VR counselor will obtain it with written consent.
If a disability is suspected but not documented, school staff may still want to refer students for services. In cases where the student does not have an IEP/IIIP/504 plan or has not been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, school staff should consult with the VRS counselor assigned to their school. VRS may provide diagnostic services to determine eligibility, at no cost to the student's family or the school.
There is no charge for determining a student's eligibility, for counseling, job placement, and most other vocational rehabilitation services. There is a sliding fee, based on family income, for some purchased services.
The student's needs and the terms of the IEP/IIP/504 plan and VRS employment plan should drive service decisions. Minnesota's secondary schools are required to provide a student's transition services while the student remains in school.
Typically, our vocational rehabilitation unit does not fund services until the student graduates or leaves school. However, in some cases it may be appropriate to provide a vocational rehabilitation service before graduation. Sharing of such costs can be discussed.
Because ongoing communication between school staff and VRS is an important for student success, VRS should be invited to all student IEP and IIIP meetings. The earlier that VRS is notified of a meeting, the greater the likelihood they will be able to attend..
VRS can receive names of students that a school would like to refer for a VRS orientation as well as perform orientation sessions with students without written consent.
VRS must have a copy of written consent from a student (and parent or guardian where appropriate) in order to speak with school staff about a student's personal information, including obtaining and releasing information in an IEP meeting.
VRS must have a signed Tennessen Notice from a student (and parent or guardian where appropriate) to obtain personal information from them.
Find the VRS counselor that comes to your school:
For any other information, contact our statewide youth transition specialist, Alyssa Klein, at 651-259-7359 or email Alyssa.Klein@state.mn.us.