Looking for a job?

Vocational Rehabilitation services can help you become employed

Many people with disabilities receive benefits from the government or rely on family members to support them. As a result, they may feel as if they are not contributing as productive members of society. Many also fear they won’t be able to find employment that will accommodate them or allow them to earn a living and feel a sense of accomplishment. People with these concerns would likely benefit from sitting down with someone at New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation.

James Piet, public relations specialist for the Department of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, said, “Employment is our primary goal.”

Every state and territory in the United States has vocational rehabilitation services. In New Hampshire, there are seven offices run by the Department of Education, although other state departments may also run VR programs.

A lot of people hear about vocational rehab through their friends or neighbors who are clients, as well as through schools, physicians or therapists. To be eligible for these services, one must have a documented disability and be seeking employment.

Some of the clients that contact the VR program are as young as 14, although minors that are seeking employment must be invited by their school’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) team. Help with obtaining documentation can be provided if needed — as having the correct documentation is very important. The process to determine eligibility can take up to 60 days or more.

Once a client sits down with a counselor, they can discuss career goals and determine what services are needed to reach those goals. If the client does not have any specific career goals, the counselor can provide tools to assist them in the decision-making process.

There is no charge for most of the services provided by VR, however a financial assessment may be required for some of the higher-priced services such as vehicle modification. The assessment determines if the client is able to contribute financially towards the cost of the service. If it is determined that the client is unable to contribute, Vocational Rehabilitation covers all expenses.

The number of services available to each vocational rehabilitation client is broad in scope. However long-term on-the-job support is not available through this program. If a client does need long-term support at their job site they might benefit from contacting an Area Agency.

There have been some recent changes at New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation, specifically in the way they provide transitional services to students. The five main areas of focus for these changes are self-advocacy, workplace readiness, work-based learning, career exploration counseling and comprehensive transition or post-secondary. These services are offered to any student with a disability who is interested in seeking employment while they are in high school — as well as after high school. They are also available to anyone with a disability who is evaluating their career goals.

For more information, contact Vocational Rehabilitation services at 271-7095.

Jesse D. Estes is a General Studies student at NHTI and worked with the NH Council on Developmental Disabilities as a student intern. He wrote several stories for this edition of Stepping Stones. Estes lives in Concord.

Categories: Stepping Stones NH