During the transition years, many students will start thinking about jobs and seeking employment. Some will secure summer or part-time jobs while still in school. Others may benefit from workplace readiness skills before seeking their first job. There are also those who may wish to pursue interests other than employment. Fortunately, Mercer County has several agencies that may be able to offer support for a student’s successful transition to work and/or adult life.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) offers a range of services to help students with disabilities 14+ prepare for post-secondary education and employment. OOD works together with students, families, schools/colleges, and community partners to provide services that promote successful transitions to careers and adult life. Visit the OOD 14+ Webpage for a Variety of Fact Sheets. Watch a Video on OOD Services for Students with Disabilities and a Video on the Pre-Employment Transition Services Partnership.
Services Provided: Job exploration of a variety of workplace settings, paid work experiences with job coaching; soft skills for work and independence, self-advocacy, counseling on educational and training options; connections for ongoing supports past transition services.
Eligibility: Services are available for students with qualifying disabilities starting at age 14 and continuing through age 22 if the student remains in transition services. Disabilities may include physical, intellectual, and mental health issues and visual or hearing impairments. Applications for services are available online.
Getting Started: An application for services is the first step. This application can be completed by anyone: the student, parent, teacher, transition team, or OOD liaison (see below). The student’s SSN and parent/guardian signature will be needed to open a case. You can download the application using the button below. If there are questions on the timing of the application, please discuss with the student’s transition team, including the appropriate VR counselor listed below.
Reba began working with Traci Richard, OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, during her junior year at Celina High School. Reba was in the Vocational Skills Training Program and referred to OOD through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Steve Stewart, Reba’s teacher, helped with the paperwork, and Reba began receiving OOD services in 2019.
Collaboration between the Vocational Skills Training Program, held at the Celina City Schools, OOD, and CA Group, Inc. helped to guide, support, and build Reba’s self-determination. We are happy to report she found a job, successfully graduated, and reached her goals.
THRIVE is a youth program offered through Mercer County Jobs and Family Services (JFS). It provides an array of services targeted towards young adults who need financial assistance to move forward and start their adult careers.
Services Provided: Assistance for young adults in finding employment, furthering their education, gaining valuable work experience, and exploring new opportunities to reach their full potential.
Eligibility: THRIVE provides supportive services to 14-24 year old young adults who are residents of Mercer County. There is an interview and discovery process to determine individual needs.
Getting Started: Those interested can reach out directly to a THRIVE specialist or fill out this form to determine eligibility. Also, check out the Mercer County Job & Family Services Facebook page here for local job listings and other helpful information.
Mercer DD offers summer program options for transition youth, ages 14-22 who qualify for their services. These programs offer more intensive exploration and training for future community and/or employment opportunities. For more information or to see if your student qualifies, contact the Mercer DD SSA Director at 567-890-0220.
The Summer Exploration Program is offered to youth ages 14-17. This program provides community and volunteer experiences, as well as job tours of local businesses. The goal is to help each youth identify their own preferences, interests, needs and strengths. This is an important first step towards discovering the type of work or other activities they may enjoy in adulthood.
The Summer Work Program is available to young adults ages 18-22. This program provides paid work experiences 2 days a week for 10 weeks. Youth are supported in these work positions. The DD Summer Work Program is a positive next step for those who are seeking future employment.
Some in this age group who may not be seeking future employment may have the option of exploring recreational activities in the community instead. Talk to the student’s SSA for details.
A major barrier to seeking and maintaining employment is reliable transportation. Families should consider how transportation will be provided for employment when a job is secured.
If an individual is unable to get a driver’s license, it is important to get a state photo ID at the BMV.
If an individual is unsure of driving readiness or has a need for more individualized training, Capabilities, Inc. is a local service provider who offers a driving school for persons with disabilities.