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School Contracting

School Contracting Section

Funding for Schools

In 2014 Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services was mandated by the Rehabilitation Services Administration to reserve 15% of its service budget to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services to students with disabilities in high school. As a result Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services began an initiative to contract with Montana school districts to provide Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Your school may be eligible for funding under this initiative. The funding is based on the number of students served. Please refer to the Fee Schedule for an idea of the funds available for your school. (Fee Schedule link).

The intent of WIOA is to enhance the services available in school for students with disabilities. The contracts with VRBS are a means to provide funding for the creation and enhancement of transition-focused services for those students. These funds do not replace or reduce the school’s obligation to provide transition services as part of the IDEA.

Pre-ETS for students

The WIOA has two definitions for youth and students with disabilities. Youth with disabilities are described as those aged 14 to 24. Students with disabilities are defined as those aged 15 turning 16 in the academic year up to their exit from high school. The Pre-Employment Transition Services are a subset of VRBS services and are only provided to students with disabilities. However, regular Vocational Rehabilitation services are available to youth (14 – 24) through an Individualized Plan for Employment.

The contracts with schools for Pre-ETS services are specific to students with disabilities.

Description of the 5 Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS):

  • Job Exploration Counseling - explore the world of work, explore interests and abilities, work with a job mentor, shadow a job or career, investigate careers, etc.
    Examples for schools: career choice curriculum, mentoring programs, Discovery process, guest speakers, PEP Talk courses, teacher resources (texts, assessments, work books), attendance at career fairs and more.
  • Work-based learning experiences get valuable work experience through paid or unpaid work, volunteer, complete an internship or begin the steps of an apprenticeship.
    Examples for schools:Wages paid to students for work experiences, internship projects, staff time for job coaching, in-school work experiences, transportation to and from work sites, curriculum costs, etc.
  • Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs - for those students seeking further education after high school, this may include investigating career paths, referrals to college resources, campus visits among other activities.
    Examples for schools:program fees for the Movin’ On program at the University of Montana, transportation costs to attend career fairs, guest speakers from the University System, staff time to assist students with college related paperwork, STEM related curriculum and more.
  • Work Place Readiness - these are services to help you get ready for the challenges of work.  This may include training in soft skills, customer service, work place communication as well as peer mentoring, independent living skills, accessing transportation and self-advocacy.
    Examples for schools: soft skills curriculum or courses, work readiness teaching materials, peer mentoring program, soft skills classes through third parties, local employer panels, bus/transportation training, etc.
  • Instruction in Self Advocacy - These are services to help you understand more about yourself and how to interact with the world. 
    Examples for schools: courses taught at an Independent Living Center, peer mentoring, self-advocacy, attendance at the Montana Youth Leadership Forum or Montana Youth Transitions Conference, peer or self-advocacy training materials, staff time for coordinating classes, curriculum purchase and other training opportunities.

How to Contract

VRBS is currently contracting with school districts to deliver Pre-ETS in high schools. The Pre-ETS are a subset of the traditional VRBS case services. The traditional VRBS services are provided through an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and can serve as a supplement to the Pre-ETS services.

The WIOA is grounded on the premises that disability is natural and that people with disabilities have a right to make informed choices about their lives. With the new school-VRBS collaborations, we hope to build choices for youth with disabilities that will land them the careers that fit their interests and capabilities.

This is an opportunity to increase and enhance the transition services your school provides to students with disabilities.

Steps for contracting:

  1. Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services office and set up a time to discuss your school’s needs and transition plans. The staff at the Pre-ETS Technical Assistance Center are also available to assist with your plan development.
  2. Complete a work plan that details the Pre-Employment Transition Services to be provided. (see example below)
  3. Review and complete the contract and submit to VRBS for approval. Your local VRBS staff will have a contract available for review and be able to assist you with any questions.
  4. Begin Pre-Employment Transition Services. Invoicing and payment take place at the end of each calendar quarter.

Sample Work Plan

The work plan is the back bone of the contract and describes the Pre-ETS services available to students in school. The work plan will include the specific Pre-Employment Transition Services that will be provided in the school and how they will be delivered. The intent of the contract is to increase and add to the existing transition services schools are providing. Here is an opportunity to add a new project, new curriculum, expand work experience sites and increase the pre-employment training options for students.

Schools Under Contracts

Belgrade High School Big Sandy High School Billings High Schools
Bozeman High Schools Chinook High School Corvallis High School
Darby High School Ennis High School Florence High School
Frenchtown High School Geraldine High School Glasgow High School
Great Falls Public Schools Havre High School Lone Peak High School
Red Lodge High School Rocky Boy High School Scobey High School
….and many more!    

Contact Information:

Mark Mahnke, Transitions Coordinator, mmahnke@mt.gov
Tammy Hogan, Youth Services Specialist, thogan@mt.gov

Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services
111 North Last Chance Gulch, Suite 4C
PO Box 4210
Helena, MT 59604-4210
1 (877) 296-1197 (toll-free consumer line)
(406) 444-2590 (voice/TTY)
(406) 444-3632 (fax)
Email: vrinfo@mt.gov