In 2011, TransCen entered into an agreement with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to become an Employment Network (EN) for the agency’s Ticket to Work Program. Ticket to Work is an employment support program for people with disabilities who are interested in going to work or increasing their work. The program’s goal is to increase opportunities and choices for Social Security disability beneficiaries to get vocational rehabilitation, employment, and other support services. An EN may provide or coordinate the delivery of these necessary services to Social Security disability beneficiaries. (https://yourtickettowork.com/web/ttw/home)
Grants and Projects
Employment Network for SSA’s Ticket to Work Program
Exploring Work Options Career Fairs
In a partnership with SchoolTalk, Inc., the Arc of Northern Virginia, the Ivymount School, and the DC Metro Business Leadership Network, this project implements an innovative model for secondary transition fairs that incorporates career exploration and soft skills development as a way to enhance student interaction with exhibitors. Through a series of activity-based learning stations, students have the opportunity to explore career areas of interest while interacting with area employers and post-secondary service providers. Specifically, the students: (1) complete an interest inventory, research employers and consider questions for employers and post-secondary representatives attending the fairs; (2) engage in a series of hands-on activities led by employers that reflect the soft skills necessary for successful youth employment; (3) interact with representatives from a variety of different post-secondary options including representatives from community colleges, trade schools, one stop career centers, and rehabilitative services; (4) participate in a dialogue with employers to share first job experiences; and (5) complete a transition planning guide. This unique model has been implemented successfully in Washington, DC; Fairfax, VA; and Montgomery County, MD for students with disabilities who are in their last two or three years of high school.
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center provides information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of businesses, government entities, organizations, and individuals in the Mid-Atlantic region (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, and WV). It is part of the ADA National Network, which consists of ten regional centers located throughout the United States providing personalized assistance to educate the public about the ADA. It is not an enforcement or regulatory agency, but a helpful resource for obtaining information and guidance on compliance with the requirements of the ADA. Funded by NIDILRR, the ADA National Network and its regional centers support ADA’s mission to “make it possible for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality.” (www.adainfo.org)
Mid-Atlantic ADA Leadership Network
The Mid-Atlantic ADA Leadership Network (ADA-LN) is a regional network of trainers who facilitate outreach and training on the ADA in the Mid-Atlantic region (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, and WV). All ADA-LN trainers have been trained to use a 50 module curriculum on disability awareness and the ADA developed by Cornell University. This training resource enables the trainers to mix and match modules to offer training tailored to the specific needs of their audience. The purpose of the ADA-LN is to increase the capacity of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center to provide basic ADA training throughout the region. Currently, 190 people from across the region have participated in a Train the Trainers two-day event.
National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT)
NTACT is a four year technical assistance and dissemination project focused on assisting State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, and VR service providers in implementing evidence-based and promising practices ensuring students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate prepared for success in post-secondary education and employment. It works with these entities, and with other stakeholders engaged in improving outcomes for youth with disabilities, by disseminating resources and tools regarding effective practices and the use of data for program improvement through strategic planning. NTACT’s four major activities include (a) knowledge development, (b) technical assistance and dissemination, (c) leadership and coordination, and (d) evaluation. It is a partnership of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Oregon, Western Michigan University, the Transition Coalition at the University of Kansas, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). (http://www.transitionta.org/)
National Youth Transitions Collaborative (NYTC)
TransCen is one of approximately 50 members of the National Youth Transitions Collaborative, an initiative developed and funded by the HSC Foundation. The mission of the NYTC is to be a collaborative learning community to benefit youth and young people with disabilities and to empower them as they enter adulthood and the world of work. The Center is located in downtown Washington, D.C. and offers office space to many of its members, including TransCen. Collaborative members provide the Center with expertise and advice on planning, programming, services, and advocacy, with the ultimate effect that the collaborative members “learn together, build together, and succeed together.” The collaborative brings greater awareness to its shared cause and its efforts to help youth find self-directed paths to adulthood and employment. Collaborative members include DC government agencies and a variety of nonprofit organizations and associations providing programs and services to youth with disabilities. (http://www.thenytc.org/)
Together with the Maryland Department of Disabilities and Way Station, Inc., TransCen is leading this five-year model demonstration and research project for the state of Maryland, which is one of six participating sites. The PROMISE initiative is intended to improve the provision and coordination of services for youth Social Security Income (SSI) recipients and their families. The services help youth recipients achieve better outcomes, including graduating from high school ready for college and a career, completing post-secondary education and job training, and obtaining competitive employment in an integrated setting. As a result, these youth can achieve long-term reductions in reliance on SSI. The information gained from this study may help others better prepare to achieve their education and employment goals in the future. PROMISE is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Labor. (www.mdpromise.org)
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Vocational Rehabilitation Practices for Youth and Young Adults
The Center is coordinating and involved in five interrelated research studies building upon VR services’ current knowledge base for transitioning youth, resulting in useful and actionable strategies to improve VR policies, programs, and practices for youth with disabilities. These studies, and their respective findings, will provide considerable guidance to in-the-field practitioners, policymakers, and future researchers. The Center conducts relevant VR research, translates and disseminates knowledge from its work, and provides evidence-based technical assistance and training to stakeholders and partners. The Center also provides trainings, including graduate, pre-service, and in-service trainings to educators, VR professionals, direct service professionals, and related service providers. Information is also available on the University of Maryland’s Graduate Professional Studies Certificate program in Career Planning & Placement for Youth in Transition. The Center is a partnership of TransCen, University of Maryland-College Park, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). It is supported through a five year grant from NIDILRR. (www.transcen.org)
Vermont Curriculum Development Project
The Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation contracted with TransCen to develop a National Certificate Course for Employment Specialists throughout the state – a series of courses offered through the Community College of Vermont system. Upon completing the course series, trainees receive the National Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) Certificate. The series of courses consists of a foundation course that takes all Employment Specialists through the competencies related to the job search process, regardless of the type of job seeker they are working with. After completing the foundation course, Employment Specialists can take one or more of the following specialty courses that address the unique strategies and challenges of working with specific types of job seekers: Developmental Disabilities; Mental Health, Transition, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Vermont Transition Program Evaluation Project
The Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation contracted with TransCen to evaluate their statewide transition program. Given the passage of the Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act (WIOA), the state VR agency has expanded the number of and changed the job duties of Transition Counselors and Employment Specialists working with youth in school. TransCen is providing technical assistance and training for these VR staff, as well as assessing programmatic impact over time.