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Frequently Asked Questions

At what age does DRS start working with students?

Beginning at age 14, DRS can start helping students with disabilities with a variety of services, including evaluating interests and abilities, exploring career options, setting an employment goal and developing a plan to achieve vocational success.

As a parent, I am not sure if my son or daughter will be able to work. How do I know if he or she will benefit from DRS services?

The foundation of the vocational rehabilitation process is vocational counseling and guidance provided by a DRS vocational rehabilitation counselor. Initial discussions will include a medical history relating to a student’s disability and how the student’s disability may affect his or her ability to work. The student’s educational history and Individualized Education Program (IEP), if applicable, will be discussed, along with any job history. Vocational testing or assessments may be utilized to identify a student’s interests and aptitudes. Ultimately, DRS has many tools and resources to help a student with a disability recognize his or her unique vocational strengths and needs as he or she transitions from high school to further training, education or employment.

How do I know if my student qualifies for DRS services?

Official eligibility criteria are:

1. You have a disability
2. Your disability interferes with your ability to prepare for a job, get a job, or keep a job
3. You require vocational rehabilitation services to become employed or to stay employed

If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your disability, you are presumed eligible for vocational rehabilitation services if you plan to become employed.

Students, ages 14 and up, who have limitations and need assistance with learning, seeing, hearing, communicating, coping with stress or participating in physical activities and those who already have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan may be eligible for services from DRS.

How does DRS determine what services a student can or will receive?

After a student is determined eligible, he or she will work closely with a DRS vocational rehabilitation counselor to clearly define an employment goal and jointly develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE is developed by the student and the DRS vocational rehabilitation counselor to meet the student’s unique vocational strengths and needs. The student’s interests, strengths, and abilities guide the IPE development. The IPE will be developed based on results of testing and evaluations as well as the student’s interests and aptitudes. Job market and employability will also be considered. The IPE will identify the student’s vocational goal, as well as the services that will be needed to assist the student to reach that specific goal.

How long will my son or daughter need to be a consumer of DRS?

DRS vocational rehabilitation counselors plan to work with a consumer until he or she achieves his or her vocational goal, no matter how long it takes. The length of time from referral to successful employment will vary widely depending on the vocational goal and services established in a student’s IPE and the unique circumstances of each student.

What are Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)?

Pre-ETS are mandated services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). DRS provides Pre-ETS to students with disabilities, ages 14-21, and they include the following activities:

– Job exploration counseling – to help students identify potential occupations and career paths.
– Work-based learning experiences – to help students gain information about occupations in the workplace.
– Postsecondary education counseling – to help students understand postsecondary options and plan training.
– Workplace readiness training – to help students develop social and independent living skills.
– Self-advocacy instruction – to enable students to learn how to represent themselves, their views or interests.

Is there a cost for any of the services provided through DRS?

No, there is no charge for vocational rehabilitation services. However, consumers may be required to financially participate in certain services in their Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Consumers are also required to take advantage of any insurance or other programs for which they may be eligible.

How does DRS determine the amount that it can pay for a student to participate in a postsecondary training program?

A student planning to participate in a postsecondary training or education program must apply for financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The results of that application will indicate a student’s Expected Family Contribution and financial aid from other sources. Once those have been applied, DRS may contribute toward tuition, books, and supplies, but not exceeding the student’s unmet need.

The maximum amount DRS will pay for tuition training costs will not exceed the current baccalaureate tuition rate at the highest in-state public institution of higher education.

If my son or daughter is in the 9th grade, is it too early to sign up for DRS services? Will I have a chance to sign them up later if I am unsure of doing it now?

DRS can begin working with students with disabilities as early as age 14. It is recommended that students apply for services as early as possible so DRS can assist them with a successful transition from high school into further training, education or employment. However, there is no deadline to apply. Applying to DRS is also not a one-time shot. Individuals with disabilities, ages 14 and up, may apply to DRS at any time for assistance with meeting their work-related needs, even if they have previously applied for services.