What is DVR?
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) works collaboratively with secondary and postsecondary educational agencies on both state and local levels. These relationships help to streamline services and supports for students and individuals with disabilities of all ages.
Local relationships between DVR, education and other vocational programs establish effective practices which promote evidence-based strategies to improve postsecondary outcomes (college and career) of all students and young adults with disabilities.
You can contact the Youth and Transition Services Team here and for more information, read our flyer in English or here in Spanish on Youth andTransition Services. You can also watch our video: "Getting Started with Colorado DVR Youth Services".
Eligibility for DVR Services
Young adults with disabilities may be eligible to receive DVR services if:
- They have a disability
- Young adults involved in either an Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan may qualify as having a disability.
- Young adults whose disability does not qualify them for services under an IEP or 504 Plan may be eligible for DVR services and should be encouraged to consider DVR as a possible resource.
- Their disability creates difficulties obtaining or being successful in a job.
- They are interested in going to work.
** Unlike secondary education which is an entitlement system, DVR is an adult service agency and an eligibility based system. Learn more about the systems here.
Services for Young Adults
Services are designed to provide an early start at job exploration and to assist young adults with disabilities in making the transition from secondary to postsecondary education/training and competitive, integrated employment.
DVR services are available to young adults choosing to participate beginning at age 15. Services at this time focus on developing important employment skills that will lay a foundation for success after leaving school. These services are identified as pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) and focus on:
Job Exploration Counseling
Provides students with disabilities the opportunity to explore how their skills and interests match with jobs available in the labor market.
Empowers students with disabilities to express their needs and goals in a variety of settings, such as school and work.
Workplace Readiness Training
Supplies students with disabilities with the opportunity to learn skills necessary for success on the job, such as customer service, how to interact with co-workers, supervisors, being on time, etc.
Counseling on Postsecondary Education
Provides a clear path to an employment future for students with disabilities through counseling on comprehensive transition or post-secondary education.
Work-based Learning Experiences
Provides work-based learning experiences where youth with disabilities can build on the skills learned and develop skills in work that support their career pathway.
As a career pathway comes into focus, DVR services will become more individualized. Depending upon a young adult’s circumstances and the type of support they need to achieve the employment goal, DVR may arrange for:
- Assistance with short or long term training
- Assistive technology software or devices
- Tools, equipment, and uniforms for participation in training or on a job
- Job seeking skills
- Assistance with getting a job in their chosen field
How Can Students Get Started
Our services are geared towards helping students develop and apply all of the skills needed to successfully enter into and maintain employment after exiting secondary and/or postsecondary education. We value and welcome your support and advocacy to assist your students with getting started with our programs and invite you to assist students with completing the steps below.
Our specially trained DVR staff will reach out directly to the student to schedule the first appointment.
Have the student attend their very first appointment to complete and sign a few forms.
What Should Students Expect at the First Appointment
The very first appointment is an opportunity for our DVR staff member to get to know your young adult and better understand their support and employment needs. This first appointment will last approximately 30-60 minutes.
During this appointment, the DVR staff member will gather a variety of information including specific information about the student's disability, barriers to employment, previous volunteer/work experience and long term goals. DVR staff will also have the student sign important forms including releases of information needed to coordinate services and/or gather records as well as DVR specific documents.
Important Items to Bring
To get things started, we will need a little bit of information from the student at their first appointment. These items include:
- Either the completed "Referral for Pre-Employment Transition Services Form" OR the completed "Applicant Information Form" (only one of these is needed and you will get the form you need from DVR staff).
To get things moving even faster, you might also want to bring the following items:
- A copy of the Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 Plan and/or Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) from the high school.
- Copies of any recent medical or psychological evaluations the student has participated in.
- Proof of the student's disability benefits including the SSI or SSDI award letter (if applicable).
- A copy of guardianship paperwork (if applicable).
- A copy of the resume or volunteer and work history (if applicable).
What Happens After the First Appointment
All of our services are individualized to each individual we serve. The next steps will be determined by DVR staff and the student at the conclusion of the first meeting. In general, you can expect that DVR staff will review all of the information provided to determine if the student is eligible for our services. If the student will need to attend any follow up appointment or gather additional information, DVR staff will them know.
Who Will Be on the VR Team
We believe that the best way to ensure success is to have the best partners and teammates supporting young adults. While the student gets to take the lead in determining the direction of their services, they may also receive support and guidance from the team members below!
✔ DVR Partner
The DVR partner is the guide for the student's journey with DVR. The student's DVR partner will assist them with learning about the programs and services available, help them get the information they need to make important decisions and make sure that their services keep moving forward. The student will work a lot with the DVR partner to complete required paperwork and get connected to important service providers and resources.
✔ Service Providers
To make sure young adults are getting the best services possible, DVR partners with a variety of community-based service providers. Our service providers work with young adults directly to help them explore and learn about work as well as assist you with starting and keeping a new job.
We also have unique programs that we partner with including the School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) and Project Search. These programs are available in certain areas throughout the state and your young adult's DVR partner can discuss these further to determine if they are a good fit for your young adult's needs.
✔ Education Partners
As a valued member of your student's transition services team, we partner with you collaboratively to ensure provision of complementary services. We can also be a resource for technical assistance and guidance for post-school planning for the students you work with.
✔ Family and Community Partners
We also partner with your student's family support system as well as additional community partners in your ara. The community partners may include your local Center for Independent Living, Workforce Center, or Community Centered Board.
How Can I Help Students Successfully Participate in Services with DVR?
The transition from secondary education to the adult work and a career pathway can be overwhelming for students and their families. Below are some tips and resources you may find helpful in assisting the students and families in your district.
Connect Students and Families with Adult Services
Many of the students you work with may require access to additional community-based adult services including Community Centered Boards, Centers for Independent Living and Workforce Centers. DVR partners work with these agencies and service providers to ensure long term employment success. Connecting students and their families with these services early and often will start to build the student’s network of support for the transition out of secondary education.
Take advantage of district partners who participate in interagency transition teams and consider their contributions to the continuum of services each student would benefit from. To learn more about creating strong interagency transition teams locally and tools to assist you, take advantage of Sequencing of Services.
Another resource that education partners may choose to share is the Cooperative Services Handbook for Youth in Transition.
There is a vast difference between the entitlement to and eligibility for services for persons with disabilities. It is important for students who are transitioning from school to the adult world and their families to understand these differences. Helping students and family members comprehend this difference is key as they are being linked to all adult service providers, like DVR, which are eligibility based.
Assist with Gathering Current Information
DVR requires a variety of documentation to determine eligibility and provide quality services. You may support the students you work with by assisting them with gathering required documentation including:
- Government issued ID (if 18 or older)
- Gathering information through school records
- Signed Releases of Information to allow for school records to be shared with DVR.
In an attempt to foster interagency collaboration, and facilitate a smooth transition for students from school services to all adult services the Cooperative Services Handbook for Youth in Transition can be referred to for technical assistance when preparing reports and describing functional capacities and limitations.
Assist with Explaining DVR Expectations
You can also assist by explaining DVR expectations to the young adult and their family. DVR is a voluntary adult services program. We partner with the students you work with to help them develop and apply the skills needed for long term career success. As part of our program, we work directly with young adults and set expectations of the young adult for successful participation. These expectations include:
- Active participation in DVR services.
- Communication from the young adults DVR serves, including communicating preferences for service provision.
Work in Collaboration
Educators can assist by working in collaboration with the VR Team to identify community resources and possible work-related activities. To demonstrate what programming and services, across a continuum of ages, are available to students and how different entities can all work together, consider utilizing the Sequencing of Services with your local Interagency Transition Team.
Coordinate with DVR to enhance and support those work awareness, work preparation and work exploration activities being provided to improve post school outcomes.
Partner with the district’s Statewide Assistive Technology, Augmentative Alternative Communication teams (SWAAC) to ensure students have access to appropriate assistive technology for success.
Raise Employment Expectations for Students
Colorado is an Employment First state. This means that we believe that everyone who wants to work can work and opportunities should be given to everyone to explore, prepare for and enter into competitive integrated employment. Setting this expectation early and often with the students and families you work with will set the foundation for long term employment success.
Collaborating for Post Workforce Readiness
We're eager to hear more from our education partners! Please use this Google Form to tell us how successful collaboration with DVR has positively impacted the students you work with.
Examples of local collaboration:
- Interagency Transition Team Participation
- Sharing materials with parents and students.
- Co-sponsoring agency nights for parents and students.
- Having DVR involved in classroom or transition activities (e.g. mock interviews, preparing for job shadows, discussing employer needs).
- Identifying consistent liaisons to work with one another.
- Scheduling regular times to meet and make referrals, monthly, quarterly, etc.
- Provide beginning of the year and mid-year updates on students to one another.
- Development of student programming that promotes career pathways:
- Featured Partnerships