WIOA Student & Family Support Project
Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects
The Federation for Children with Special Needs is excited to continue expanding our services for transition age students with the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) Student & Family Support Project. A collaboration between FCSN and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), the WIOA Student & Family Support Project provides pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities aged 16-22 and their families. The project is in line with the WIOA’s emphasis on the importance of competitive, integrated employment for individuals with disabilities. WIOA promotes the coordination of services to facilitate the transition of these young adults from school settings to successful postsecondary employment outcomes.
This statewide project focuses on three main goals:
- Partnership with the 24 MRC offices to offer transition workshops for families and professionals
- Providing transition resources to the public through websites and webinars, as well as in-person workshops, printed materials, and phone calls
- Referral-based, face-to-face transition support for students who meet eligibility requirements for vocational rehabilitation
The WIOA Student & Family Support Project aligns with the objectives of the Federation in supporting families and young adults to achieve their visions for life after high school. The Federation has set high goals for this project, aspiring to connect with 2,500 individuals per year. This will be achieved through the LINK Center website, call center, and the three statewide Transition Family Support Specialists and Outreach Team.
In mid-March the project became fully staffed with the hire of Jennifer Balzanelli. Jennifer will be working with the MRC offices, students, families, and Pre-ETS vendors in the central part of the state. Ingrid Arvidson will be covering the very western part of Massachusetts. Last but not least, Joseph Katz will be working out of the Federation office in Boston and will be covering the entire eastern part of the state from as far north as Lawrence down to the Cape and Islands.
Transition Family Support Specialists will use a menu of workshops to help clarify the complexities of transition services to audiences ranging from MRC offices and Pre-Employment Transition Services vendors to professionals, families, and students. Workshops will include: “Introduction to Transition”, “Creating a Postsecondary Vision”, and “Next Steps: Connecting to Supports and Services as a Young Adult”. Our team will also create new workshops that address the transition from an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and cultural competencies to be considered within the transition process.
In addition to the workshops, the Transition Family Support Specialists will facilitate 250 face- to-face meetings with students and families across the state. Students receiving this individualized service must be referred by MRC and must meet their eligibility requirements for vocational rehabilitation. Face to face meeting may include:
- Person-centered planning
- Goal-setting Support
- Connecting to resources
- Increasing knowledge around planning a life after high school
- More to be determined!
This project is an incredible opportunity for the Federation to be a leader and educator in the field of transition services. We are excited for this project to start rolling out to students and families across the state. For more information about the LINK Center and the WIOA Student and Family Support Project visit fcsn.org/linkcenter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.