Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) awarded IEL a new five-year $7.5 million grant to provide technical assistance to our nation’s vocational rehabilitation system to improve transition programs and services for youth. Known as the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Youth (VR TAC-Youth), this new technical assistance center is one of five awarded by RSA last week to assist the vocational rehabilitation system to implement the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The vocational rehabilitation system provides job training services, among other things, to youth and adults with disabilities so they can enter, stay in, and advance in employment. Some of the more important changes to the vocational rehabilitation program contained in WIOA include greater emphasis on serving transition-age students and youth and that states must spend at least 15% of their funding on this population.
Over the last two decades, IEL’s Center for Workforce Development has conducted research, provided training and technical assistance, and produced high-quality publications related to the needs of all youth, including those with disabilities and other disconnected youth. Its seminal framework is the Guideposts for Success, which outlines what youth need to make a successful transition from school to further education and work, from home to community and independent living.
The VR TAC-Youth rounds out IEL’s work in the transition field by joining the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth, a national technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and two programs built on IEL’s work, the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Right Turn Career Focused Transition Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
“We are thrilled to receive this new grant,” said IEL’s President Martin J. Blank. ”On one level, this award validates our work over the last two decades in the youth transition field. On another, it allows us to continue to grow our cross-boundary work as we help the vocational rehabilitation system work with other systems, such as juvenile justice, child welfare and other social service agencies at the state and local level to improve transition youth outcomes.”