Wood Lane/Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities is partnering with the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) to begin a new program called “Bridges to Transition.”
The program’s focus is to assist youth with developmental disabilities to acquire the needed skills to obtain employment upon graduation from high school.
National statistics indicate that youths with disabilities have significant difficulties with their transition from school to the demands of adult life.
“A student with a disability has less than a 20 percent chance of ever being employed in adult life if he or she does not have a job upon high school graduation,” said Wood Lane Employment Services coordinator Vic Gable. “Bridges is intended to change that outcome in Wood County.”
According to RSC, Bridges to Transition will generate new, high-quality transition assistance programs, expand services to young people with disabilities and maximize federal match funding for the state’s vocational rehabilitation program.
Wood Lane/Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities took the lead in Wood County and contributed $71,400 in local funds to generate more than $263,466 in federal vocational rehabilitation funds for the Bridges to Transition Program. Staff hired through this grant will provide transition assistance in the form of vocational training and community employment, as well as support and guidance for independent living.
Those eligible for the program are youths between the ages of 14 and 22 who have a developmental disability. The youths need to be receiving special education services and have an individualized education plan (IEP.) RSC and Wood Lane are working with the Perrysburg, Bowling Green, North Baltimore, Eastwood, Elmwood, Otsego, Rossford, Northwood and Lake school districts, the Wood County Educational Service Center, Penta Career Center, and Ohio’s State Support Team, Region 1 to identify youths who can benefit from the program.
“Bridges to Transition” will help give young people in our community who have developmental disabilities a competitive edge as they prepare for the workforce,” said Ann Okuley, RSC’s north region manager. “The program is designed to ensure that youth have a community job upon graduation from school and that supports are available for successful transition from school to work.”
While Wood Lane and local school districts have worked for more than 10 years improving transition services for youths, all participants are looking forward to increased opportunities for students to be successful. “We’ve been talking about this type of program for a long time,” said Bowling Green assistant superintendent Ann McVey. “We appreciate Wood Lane for taking the lead in this.”
The Bridges to Transition program is a part of RSC’s Pathways projects. Statewide, local entities have contributed a total of $5.8 million through all of these projects, which has helped RSC maintain federal vocational rehabilitation funding and generated $27.6 million to serve Ohioans with disabilities. Funding for the projects and programs come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed into law by President Barack Obama in February. RSC’s ARRA funds were awarded through the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Education.