Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRBS) for Students and Youth with Disabilities
Everyone wants to know, “What are you going to do after high school?” Now you have the answer! With help from your high school and VRBS you can make a plan for YOUR future. Our program is here to help you make those exciting decisions about your future career path and life plans.
VRBS can provide the following Pre-Employment Transition Services while you are attending high school:
- Job Exploration Counseling - explore the world of work, find your interests and abilities, work with a job mentor, shadow a job or career, investigate careers, etc.
- Work-based learning experiences – get valuable work experience through paid or unpaid work, volunteer, complete an internship or begin the steps of an apprenticeship.
- Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in post-secondary education (college, vo-tech, etc) - for those students seeking further education VRBS can assist with exploring these options. This may include investigating career paths, referrals to college resources, campus visits among other activities.
- 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.
- Instruction in Self Advocacy - These are services to help you understand more about yourself and how to interact with the world. Services could include courses taught at an Independent Living Center, peer mentoring, self-advocacy, attendance at the Montana Youth Leadership Forum or Montana Youth Transitions Conference and other training opportunities.
There are many more services we can provide to help you as you prepare for life after high school. You will need to be eligible for these VRBS services.
You are eligible for VRBS if you meet all three of the following criteria:
1. You have a physical or mental disability
2. Your disability prevents you from getting or keeping a job
3. You want to work and you need VRBS services to help you get or keep a job.
You are automatically eligible if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or SSDI benefits.
Once eligible these are the types of services VRBS can provide based on what you need to prepare for a career, get into that career, and maintain employment on your career path. Services MAY include some of the following:
- Evaluation Services – Interest surveys, career information websites, and other evaluations may be used to help you learn more about your own unique skills, abilities, and interests as well as your needs related to your disability.
- Career Counseling and Guidance Services – Learn about the world of work and careers. In conjunction with information about you and your choices, you and your VRBS counselor will develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) outlining the services you need for your career path.
- Medical or Psychological Services – These services may be available on a limited basis should you need them to get and keep going on your career path.
- Training – VRBS may coordinate and help fund such services as on-the-job training, job coaching, business/trade school, college or other vocational programs if you need them for your career.
- Job Development and Placement Services – VRBS will provide assistance to help you with your job search. Assistance may include help completing a job application and help to preparing for a job interview.
- Rehabilitation Technology – You and your counselor may identify and obtain adaptive aids or equipment necessary to help you get or keep a job. For example, computer adaptations, workstations, modifications, etc.
- Post-Employment Services – Once you are employed, support services related to your disability may be provided to help you keep your job.
- Referrals – VRBS can coordinate with other programs and services to increase your opportunities for employment.
VRBS may serve youth with disabilities starting at age 14 and the Pre-Employment Transition Services begin the academic year in which a student turns 16 until a student leaves high school. For more information about our program please refer to the link below regarding the VRBS counselor that serves your school or area.
To apply, students may ask their teacher or family to help schedule an appointment with the VRBS counselor who travels to their school or they can contact the VRBS office that serves their area.
Transitions Demonstration Goes Statewide
Disability Employment and Transitions began its transition demonstration project in Missoula in 2007 with funding from the state legislature and governor.
The project had two goals:
- to improve relationships with students with disabilities and their parents and teachers, and
- to increase the number of students with disabilities who graduate and go on to employment and/or college.
A vocational rehabilitation counselor held regular office hours in each of the three Missoula public high schools. This counselor met with students, school staff and parents to explain vocational rehabilitation services and helped interested students set up appointments with their own Montana Vocational Rehabilitation counselors.
After the demonstration, students with disabilities and their support team members (parents, teachers, therapists, etc.) reported considerable improvement in the quality of services. The project also produced award-winning materials to assist successful transitions.
In 2011, money for the demonstration program was pulled. However, the program had such initial success that the project practices and materials went statewide. Now, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors in each Disability Employment and Transitions field office hold or plan to hold regular office hours in Montana’s largest high schools. In the future, Disability Employment and Transitions will assess the program and continue improving our services.
The following tools were designed to clarify and simplify the transitions process for students and their support teams, including: parents, teachers, and MVR counselors.
- Open electronic GPS form and familiarize yourself with the form.
- You proceed from the bottom to the top; following the arrow.
- Underlined text indicates a hyperlink to an outside resource.
- Enter student's name in the field at the bottom left of the GPS form.
- Enter name of mentor in the field at the bottom right of form. (The mentor can be a parent, teacher, or MVR counselor or some other trusted adviser.)
- Enter student's expected graduation date at the top.
- Follow the arrow from the bottom to the top, filling in information along the way.
Montana Youth Leadership Forum
Disability Employment and Transitions is proud to sponsor the Montana Youth Leadership Forum (MYLF).
MYLF (pronounced “my life”) is a unique career and leadership training program for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors with disabilities. By serving as delegates from their communities at a 5-day intensive training, youth with disabilities will cultivate leadership, citizenship, and social skills.
Montana Youth Transitions Program
Disability Employment and Transitions and the Office of Public Instruction sponsor the Montana Youth Transitions Program (MYTransitions).
MYTransitions is a website where you can explore, ask questions, and discover. The intent of their website is to connect students and families to others across Montana who are also in transition or who have already navigated the transition process. MYTransitions is a reference tool for youth with disabilities and their families.