Job Coach in Special Education
Job coaches are individuals who specialize in assisting individuals with disabilities to learn and accurately carry out job duties.Job Accommodation Network
The statistics are abysmal. Last I checked, the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities is somewhere around 70-80%. That is, less 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 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?
A job coach is an 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. To access those services, you likely have to be receiving other disability-related services from your state or county. Call you county’s office of disabilities to inquire.
If you or your child has not yet graduated, then this becomes a support in the IEP.
Remember, IEPs are driven by needs. So, the area of need must be identified. This might already exist as an executive functioning issue or struggles with social skills. You can also ask for a vocational assessment or evaluation as your child enters transition age.
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, make sure 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.
What can a Job Coach for Disabilities do?
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 plan 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 work place goals, and the employee’s role in them.
- Help the employee with soft skills such as social skills, communication.
- Work with the employee and employer to develop a support system and accommodations for skill deficits, such as executive functioning deficits.
- Help employee 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?
No 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, that 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 even 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 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 are going to look like, including Job Training.
As with anything else, read and use your Procedural Safeguards if you need them.
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