October is Disability Employment Awareness Month


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and highlights the contributions, diversity and the impact people with disabilities make in the workforce. The Tennessee Department of Human Services and partner organizations are helping students prepare for life after high school, including making plans for post-secondary education and mapping out their career goals. Research shows that the earlier students with a disability get employment training and paid job experiences, the better their chances are for steady work and independence after high school.

In Tennessee, Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) are available to any students ages 14-22 with a disability. These services make sure students get job skills training and/or internships at an early age.

Pre-ETS is supported by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that was signed into law July 22, 2014. The program works to make sure students receive training and develop skills to reach their education, career and life goals.

A student with a disability can be a student in a traditional education setting, a student being homeschooled, or a student in a non-traditional secondary education setting.

In addition, students who are pursuing education after high school can receive Pre-Employment Transition Services. However, tuition is not included as a Pre-Employment Transition Service.

Services for a Successful Transition

The State of Tennessee works with several partners across the state to provide five services that help students make a successful transition to job opportunities:

1. Job Exploration. Explore the world of work and career choices.

2. Work-Based Learning. Get paid or non-paid work experiences that may be in school and/or after school.

3. Workplace Readiness. Prepare the student for the workplace.

4. Self-Advocacy. Help the student learn more about themselves and the disability. Also help the student learn how to interact with the world.

5. Post-Secondary Counseling and Enrollment Assistance. Explore options for students seeking careers that require education after high school.

Learn More about Pre-ETS

Here are some more key points about Pre-Employment Transition Services for students and their parents or caregivers:

• Parents, guardians, and adult students must provide permission for the student to participate. They must provide proof of disability which can include the cover sheet from their IEP or 504 Plan.

• There services are provided at no cost to the student or their family.

• Most services are provided by Local Education Agencies (LEAs) local organizations that hold agreements with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

• Participating in Pre-ETS does not automatically qualify an individual for Vocational Rehabilitation services. If your child is nearing the end of their high school career, you are encouraged to contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The counselor can determine if the student is eligible and what services may be available to help them pursue a job.

• A student may receive any one or combination of Pre-Employment Transition Services to meet their education needs and/or supporting the goal of finding work.

Additional Resources

Learn about the Community Targeted Transitional Support Services Program, which serves adults with certain mental disorders who also meet the most recent federal poverty guidelines, here

A TennCare program called Employment and Community First CHOICES helps people with an intellectual or developmental disability achieve their own goals for employment and independent living. Learn more by clicking here

Learn about the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation program here.