Our friend LaToya Allen is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor employed with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) as one of the ten youth counselors for the state of Indiana. She has written this guest piece for us to explain her work and how youth with disabilities are able to access employment training and other experiences.
LaToya covers 11 counties in Northeast Indiana, Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley County. Part of her responsibility is working with students and youth with disabilities ages 14-24 years old by helping them obtain pre-employment services (Pre-ETS), employability services, and social and independent living skills. Pre-ETS is for students with a documented disability, IEP, or 504 plan that are enrolled in public or private school, homeschooled, or a college/university.
Public and private schools are assigned a contracted Pre-ETS provider and homeschooled families, colleges, and universities can contact the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Service (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find a provider in their area. Students in Pre-ETS receive information and resources in the following five areas: career exploration, post-secondary education and transition counseling, workplace readiness, work-based learning experiences, and self-advocacy. Youth with disabilities who are not enrolled in school and would like pre-employment services can use IndianaDisbailityResourceFINDER.org and search under employment services to find services in their area.
LaToya works with school educators, contracted Pre-ETS providers, and community partners to make sure students have access to these services. She has shared with us some of her work-based learning experience (WBLE) highlights from the summer programs.
Students and staff from Grant County and Carey Services participated in the 33rd Annual Fly/In Cruise/In all-you-can-eat Pancake and Sausage Breakfast at the Marion, Indiana Municipal Airport to benefit the Grant County Rescue Mission. Students had the opportunity to learn about careers in aviation, military, automotive, and others. Students and staff were in charge of cooking and serving the sausages for the fundraiser.
Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana
Easterseals Arc students and staff worked with the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Urban and Small Farms Program this summer to clean and maintain the Bloomingdale Community Garden. Students got the chance to talk to the Allen County Soil and Water worker to learn about careers in nature conservation, ecology, entomology, and environmental sciences. Students worked along with staff to clean, water, harvest, and weed the garden. They were able to eat and taste various fruits and vegetables and take some home.
Arc of Wabash County
Students and staff from Wabash County and the Arc of Wabash came to Fort Wayne’s Little River Wetlands Project at Eagle Marsh where they had the chance to learn about careers in nature conservation, ecology, entomology, and environmental sciences. Students and staff participated in Trashy Thursday and learned about the vegetation, wildlife, and various bugs lives that live in the marsh. They picked up trash and cleaned up certain sections of Eagle Marsh.
Students and staff from Noble County worked at the Kendallville Community Garden. They got a chance to work outside, clean, water, weed, and harvest the garden. Students learned aboutvarious fruits, vegetables, and flowers that grow in their area.
Students and staff from Huntington County worked in the Huntington Arts and Entrepreneurial Center (HAEC) Arts Included Gallery, in downtown Huntington, Indiana to do entrepreneurship education. They created a mini restaurant pop-up shop to sell lunch, fresh salads, summer fruit, sandwiches, desserts, beverages, and other items. The students named their shop Grab and Go, and they sold lunches two days a week. On the other days, the students planned, shopped, prepared, and baked desserts to sell for lunch.
Students from Adams County had the opportunity to assist the custodial staff at Bellmont High School. They worked with staff on various projects throughout the school. Afterward, students worked with Pre-ETS staff on meal preparation and independent living skills.
For more information about LaToya, Pre-ETS providers, and services in Northeast Indiana, please feel free to contact her at email@example.com and download the Vocational Rehabilitation Pre-ETS Provider Contact info at https://www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/files/Counties-by-Pre-ETS-providers.pdf.