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Employment for Self Advocates
Important Links and Documents
In Massachusetts and throughout the country, young adults with intellectual disabilities are becoming increasingly more successful as they transition from school to work. They are finding new pathways to careers and maintaining gainful employment throughout their adult working years. Although employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities still lag behind those of persons without disabilities, it is clear that enormous barriers to employment are falling.
The stage for successful employment is set during a child’s school years. For all children, including children with Down syndrome, parental advocacy is critical during this time. As students become young adults, they need adequate preparation for the challenges of the adult world.
For children with disabilities, a key component of successful preparation is partnering with school officials to create, revise, and follow a comprehensive transition plan. Under the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a transition plan must be developed as part of a child with disabilities’ Individual Education Program.
According to IDEA, transition services must do the following:
Furthermore, under legislation signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008, transition services for students with disabilities must begin at age 14, two years earlier than federal law requires.
Families can also support the route to employment by:
Families can find in-depth information about these topics, resources and case studies, in the booklet “School Days to Pay Days: An Employment Planning Guide for Families of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities”, a publication of the Mass Department of Developmental Services and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston.
What Can YOU Do Massachusetts?
Work Without Limits
Work Without Limits’ home page announces upcoming events and gives families the opportunity to receive emails and updates. Be sure to visit their Profiles in Employment page for inspiring videos of individuals successfully employed. WWL has a wonderfu guide titled, Going to Work: A Guide to Social Security Benefits and Employment for Young People with Disabilities. You can see it here.
WWL recently launched Jobs Without Limits, a free job board for job seekers with disabilities to connect with employers in Massachusetts. Visit www.jobswithoutlimits.org
UMass Medical School Transitions Research & Training Center Tip Sheets
Additional Transition & Employment-Related Resources in Massachusetts
Best Buddies Jobs - A program that matches skilled and qualified individuals with intellectual disabilities with businesses who are searching for enthusiastic and dedicated employees.
The Federation for Children with Special Needs - Offers a transition workshop for families
The Arc of Massachusetts - The Arc's Employment & Rehabilitiation page includes a document of best practices for successful transition. The Arc site includes other publications and may be helpful in identifying relevant workshops delivered through local chapters.
Easter Seals of Massachusetts - Offers employment and training services as well as youth transition services.
Real People, Real Jobs - Highlights the employment successes of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) who are working in paid jobs in their communities.