COLUMBUS — The Summer Employment Program for students with disabilities is underway throughout Ohio. The program provides students (ages 14-21) with a disability the opportunity to explore the world of work and gain on-the-job training.
Approximately 2,700 students across the state are participating in summer jobs, while an additional 1,300 younger students are being supported to explore and prepare for their first job experiences.
In Shelby County, a total of eight students with disabilities are participating in summer work. RT Industries supports the program by providing job coaching for Shelby County students. Additionally, the Shelby Co Board of DD prepares even more students for the Ohio program by providing a locally funded summer work program. The annual county board program is organized and operated by Community Employment Specialist, Shellie Farrier.
Summer work help students build confidence and learn essential skills in a job setting. Youth are assigned to work sites based on their interests and abilities, and safeguards are in place to promote health and safety. While working at job sites, students receive support from a job coach and earn minimum wage.
Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) give students with disabilities, as early as age 14, an early start in exploring career interests. Five core services include Job Exploration Counseling, Work-Based Learning, Counseling on Post-Secondary Opportunities, Workplace Readiness Training, and Instruction in Self-Advocacy.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) Director Kevin Miller said, “The Summer Employment Program builds job awareness, skills, and self-reliance. These experiences give students with disabilities a foundation for a great career.”
OOD works with 106 vocational rehabilitation providers throughout the state to offer the Summer Youth Employment Program. “Providers are key to the success of this program for students,” explained Jay Burns with the OOD Provider and Contract Management Unit. “They provide structure, help students practice accountability, and offer meaningful feedback.”
Chelsea Ashcraft is the assistant director of Employment and Community Based Services at Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries. She explained, “For over a decade, Goodwill has partnered with OOD to provide a work experience opportunity to youth within its community. This experience is a paid work opportunity that allows participants to identify interests, abilities, and preferences while obtaining new skills and knowledge on employment. Once the service is complete, the participant is provided service and support recommendations that will assist them in achieving success in future employment.”
If you have a child 14 years or older with a disability, reach out to OOD for more information on how we can help your child with career exploration, skill development, and strategies to get a job after graduation. Counselors begin talking with students and their parents about next summer’s opportunities starting in the fall. To find out more, visit the OOD Students 14+ webpage at https://ood.ohio.gov/individuals-with-disabilities/services/students-14-plus.