Job Coach for Special Education
The statistics are abysmal. Last I checked, the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities is around 70-80%. That is, fewer than 30% of disabled adults have meaningful employment.
When I was a teacher, I taught an adult vocational program. All of my students had a high school diploma or GED. Some had disabilities, so they worked with our local OVR office. OVR stands for the Office of Vocational Rehab. It’s a service available to adults with disabilities.
One of my duties was to work with their job coaches and help them achieve employ-ability in the workplace.
What is a Job Coach?
Job coaches are individuals who specialize in assisting individuals with disabilities to learn and accurately carry out job duties.Job Accommodation Network
A job coach is a person who works with disabled people to help them learn, accommodate, and perform their work duties. In addition to working on skills related to performing specific job tasks, a job coach may help the new or potential employee with “soft skills.”
How do a get a job coach?
It depends. Job coaches are available as an adult service. You likely must receive other disability-related services from your state or county to access those services. Call your county’s office of disabilities to inquire.
If you or your child has not yet graduated, this becomes a support in the IEP.
Remember, needs drive IEPs. So, the area of need must be identified. This might already exist as an executive functioning issue or struggle with social skills.
You can also ask for a vocational assessment or evaluation as your child enters the transition age. Our kids tend to get pushed toward jobs in consumer services, and they may not be the best fit.
Can I hire a private job coach?
Very likely, yes. Everything is available if you’re willing to pay for it!
But, in all seriousness, this is usually something you work out with the employer ahead of time. Most employers don’t want random people coming in unannounced to the workplace. It’s a safety and security issue. So if you are doing this privately, ensure you’ve worked it out with them first.
Where do I find a Job Coach?
If this is a support on the IEP, the school will help you find one. If you are working with an adult agency, they will assist you. And, if you’re trying to hire one privately, you’re just going to have to Google and make phone calls to find one.
Job Coach- Training for Disabilities
The possibilities are endless! A good, engaged job coach wants you to be successful in the workplace. Some of what they do:
- Work with the employee to discuss goals and plans for employment.
- Help the employee to self-identify skill deficits to work on.
- Engage the employee and guide them toward self-advocacy and self-determination.
- Work with the employer to identify their needs and workplace goals, and the employee’s role in them.
- Help the employee with soft skills such as social skills and communication.
- Work with the employee and employer to develop a support system and accommodations for skill deficits, such as executive functioning deficits.
- Help employees stay motivated through difficult times.
- Teach job skills to the employee.
- Note clients’ strengths and help them develop their strengths.
- Counsel employees on fine-tuning work habits/skills in preparation for competitive employment.
Do I have to be employed to have a Job Coach?
Not necessarily. Depending on the person and situation, a potential employee can receive this counseling and teaching in a different setting.
However, the name may slightly change to something like Employment Training, Employment Counseling, Job Training, Workplace Skills, etc.
What’s important is that if your child needs the skills, they get the training.
How do I get a Job Coach added to the IEP?
As I said above, IEPs are driven by needs. Needs determine services.
I see too many parents dropping the ball during IEP transition. I have more articles about transition below. Parents, you have to stay engaged throughout all parts of the process. I can’t tell you how many panicked parents we hear from in March of the senior year…because they are just realizing that their child has no workplace skills.
When it’s time for transition, you have to start asking for this kind of stuff.
- Vocational Assessments
- Job Readiness Assessments
- Evaluations for Social Skills
- Executive Functioning
- Job Interest Profiles
Also, when your child enters transition age (14 or 16, depending on your state), now is when you really have to decide if you see your child graduating on time or staying until 20 or 21. Make a plan of what those extra years will look like, including job training.
As with anything else, read and use your Procedural Safeguards if you need them.
A Job Coach may turn out to be one of the most critical people on your child’s IEP journey. Good luck!