Established in 1990, the Oregon Youth Transition Program (YTP) is a collaborative partnership between the office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Oregon Department of Education, and the University of Oregon. It is funded by Vocational Rehabilitation every two-years through competitive grants to local school districts. The purpose of the YTP is to prepare students with disabilities for employment or career related postsecondary education or training through the provision of a comprehensive array of pre-employment transition activities and supports.
YTP was developed initially in seven high schools as a federal systems change grant. Today, YTP serves about 1500 students in approximately 120 Oregon high schools. VR contracts with the University of Oregon to provide training and technical assistance to school and rehabilitation personnel statewide to support implementation of YTP. Contracts with local school districts are performance based. YTP sites are expected to meet performance benchmarks based on key milestones within the VR system – application to VR, development of an individual plan for employment (IPE), and engagement in employment, training, or a combination of employment and training upon exiting the YTP pattern of service. A site’s performance on program benchmarks influences potential future funding. YTP staff collaborate with VR to create mechanisms to ensure the provision of pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS), and provide core YTP Grant activities and supports in their districts.
Local YTP staff serve youth with disabilities who need support beyond services typically offered though the general or special education program to achieve their secondary and post-secondary employment and continuing education goals. YTP participants are representative of all youth with disabilities nationally with respect to gender and primary disability categories. The majority of youth in the program experience a number of additional individual, family, or school system barriers such as poor academic skills, limited social and independent living skills, negative job experiences, and low levels of family involvement or support. NOTE: Any student eligible or potentially eligible for VR services may participate in pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) without becoming a client of VR. All YTP participants who receive core services must be eligible for VR services and become clients of VR. Any young adult with a disability who has a barrier to employment can become a VR client without being served in the YTP.
The YTP provides year-round services to youth typically during the last two years of high school and continuing into the early transition years after leaving high school.
At the local level, a team consisting of a transition specialist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, special educator/s and administrator work to achieve two distinct, yet interconnected goals. The first goal is to improve post-school transition outcomes for youth with disabilities by preparing them for employment or career related postsecondary education/training. The second goal is to increase capacity and create systems change in schools and other agencies serving students with disabilities in transition from school to work. These goals are achieved by providing a variety of core services to students participating in the YTP, including:
- (a) individualized planning, focused on post-school goals and self-determination and help to coordinate school plans with relevant community agencies,
- (b) instruction in academic, vocational, independent living, and personal social skills and help to stay in and complete high school,
- (c) career development services including goal setting, career exploration, job search skills, and self-advocacy,
- (d) paid employment including connections with local employers, on the job assessments, placement and training,
- (e) support services such as individualized mentoring and support or referrals for additional specific interventions, and
- (f) follow-up support for one year after leaving the program to assist in maintaining positive outcomes in employment or postsecondary settings.
YTP staff work with young adults, and families as appropriate, to individualize services to support the young adult’s employment and career-related goals.