Research on Employment Supports for People with Disabilities: Summary of the Focus Group Findings. Education, Training and Rehabilitation


Education and Rehabilitation programs are designed to help individuals invest in developing their abilities and skills, often with the primary goal of helping individuals become employed and self-sufficient. Programs and policies related to education and rehabilitation for individuals with disabilities are described below.

Education Programs and Policies. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to provide free appropriate public education for students with disabilities at the elementary and secondary level. Schools are required to create Individual Education Programs (IEPs) to help assist youth with disabilities obtain important services at no additional cost to their families. IEPs provide a central guide to available services as well as a plan for post-secondary transitions for school to work for all youth with disabilities during secondary school. Also, the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP) provides grants to assist states in providing services.

Workforce Investment Act Implementation. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) rewrites federal statutes governing job training programs, adult education and literacy, and VR. It is intended to provide a more coordinated, customer-friendly, locally driven workforce development system supported by an enhanced statistics system. Under WIA, states have oversight of the statewide system of Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), administer the Employment Service (labor exchange), administer job training programs, and build and manage a statewide employment statistics system. The challenge in implementing WIA is to coordinate and streamline all the partner agencies that provide the services and information critical for successfully matching workers with employers.46

In California, the Governor of the state is responsible for the implementation of WIA. The Employment Development Department will administer WIA at the State level, and Local Workforce Investment Areas will administer programs locally. WIA will provide job training programs, adult education and literacy, and VR. Under WIA implementation, there will be statewide programs for adults and dislocated workers as well as work preparation programs and postsecondary education preparation for youth aged 14-21.47

Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs). Executive Order No. 36 (1995) established county-based WIBs in recognition of county-level delivery of the majority of workforce development programs. The LA County WIB has set up WIA kiosks which offer services such as career counseling, job banks, and employment assistance. These kiosks are intended to better serve clients on the varying job markets within LA County. The Los Angeles County WIB intends to implement WIA as well as certifying One Stop Centers which will offer a variety of employment supports.48

Veterans' Dependents Educational Assistance. The California Department of Veterans Affairs, Division of Veterans Services authorizes this program. This program provides tuition and fee waiver benefits at any campus of the California State University system, University of California system, or California Community College. This program is available to the dependent child, spouse, or unmarried, surviving spouse of a service-connected disabled or deceased veteran.49

The Job Training Partnership Act. The Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) is designed to assure that the skills of local workers match the skills that employers need. JTPA connects employers, educators and government representatives into a network that provides localized job training to workers who would otherwise have difficulty finding and keeping a job. Such individuals include dislocated workers who lost their jobs due to plant closings, welfare recipients, young people looking for their first job, and older unemployed men and women. JTPA emphasizes vocational instruction, yet many other services are available, including remedial class in many basic academic subjects, as well as classes to help workers earn a GED. The California Employment Development Department administers this program. There are 52 JTPA regional, or "Service Delivery Areas" (SDAs), located throughout California. A "Workforce Investment Board" of local business people, educators, government and labor representatives and community-based organizations governs each SDA.50

Employment Development Department Job Service. Through internet-based CalJOBS, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) links employers with qualified job seekers. Through this program the EDD also provides employers with re-employment services for dislocated workers. The EDD Job Service is available statewide to Californian unemployed workers.51

Work Activity Program Services (WAP). Services provided by WAP include paid work, work adjustment, and supportive habilitation services in a workshop setting. Supportive habilitation services may include social skills and community resource training, if necessary to achieve vocational objectives. These services are available statewide to adults with developmental disabilities. The California Department of Rehabilitation administers this program.

Habilitation Services Program (HSP). This program addresses the vocational needs of persons with severe developmental disabilities. Services are directed at developing an individual's maximum potential for mainstreaming into VR. This program is administered statewide by the California Department of Rehabilitation. Services are provided through regional centers or local Department of Rehabilitation offices.52

Early Start Program. Early Start provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities ages 0-3, as well as services for their families. The target population is children with developmental disabilities or delay, or children who are at risk for delay or disability. The California Department of Developmental Services and the California Department of Education oversee this program statewide.53

Family Resource Centers. These are a component of the Early Start program. Family Resource Centers provide the families of infants and toddlers with disabilities with access information, resources and support networks. It is available statewide through 53 community-based, family-focused agencies established under the Early Start Program. This program is jointly administered by the California Department of Developmental Services and the California Department of Education.54

0-3 Early Head Start Training Project. This program is administered by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. It provides support services for pregnant women including parent education. It also serves as an inclusive environment for toddlers and children with disabilities. It is available to low-income pregnant women and low-income families with infants and toddlers. Families, even if not low-income, with infants and toddlers with disabilities also have access to services provided by the Early Head Start Training Project.55

Instructional Program. This program is available to students with disabilities. The Los Angeles County Office of Education administers the Instructional Program. This program provides secondary classes for students with severe disabilities ranging from being deaf to specialized physical health care services for students with multiple or severe disabilities.56

Family School Community Partnership. This is a program that promotes communication between home and school, as well as providing access to and coordinates community support services for children and families. It is administered by the Los Angeles County Office of Education, Special Education division.57

Job Accommodation Network. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, is a toll-free information and referral service providing information on job accommodation, employers' responsibilities under the ADA, and on technical assistance, funding, education, and services related to the employment of people with disabilities. JAN also analyzes trends and statistical data related to the technical assistance it provides.58