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Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies and Transition Planning

by Mary Mazzoni on April 20, 2013

Every state has a federally funded vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency.

There are differences in the ways states administer vocational rehabilitation services. Different names are used to describe the agencies in each state.

Yet, all state VR agencies have a single purpose – to assist persons with disabilities to attain and maintain employment.

It is important for your son or daughter to understand how your state’s VR agency can support his or her career goals.

VR Basics

You’ll want to ask the transition coordinator at your child’s school for local VR agency contact information. Your local VR office can provide more specific information about VR services and application procedures in your area.

Generally, VR services include:

  • Eligibility determination - eligibility criteria must be met to access services
  • Assessment of vocational needs - to identify career interests, skills, and needed services and supports
  • Vocational counseling - to clarify career goals
  • Development of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) - outlining education/training and support needed to attain and maintain employment
  • Funding and coordination of services - the VR agency may purchase, in whole or in part, services or technology included in the IPE

Federal regulations state that, to be eligible for VR services, an individual must be a person with a disability who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that constitutes a significant barrier to employment, and
  • can benefit from VR services to achieve an employment outcome, and
  • requires VR services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment

When a state does not have sufficient funds to serve all eligible persons, the VR agency is required to employ an “order of selection” in which persons with the most significant disabilities are served first.

In most states, VR services are provided without cost. However, in some states, some services are provided based upon an individual’s financial need.

The particular VR services a person receives are outlined in the Individualized Plan for Employment. These services may include one or more of the following:

  • Vocational counseling and guidance
  • Job placement assistance
  • College or vocational training
  • Skills training
  • Job coaching or tutoring
  • Transportation-related services
  • Interpreter services for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired
  • Assistive and rehabilitation technology services
  • Referral services
  • Support, advocacy and/or follow-up services for 90 days after employment

Some services may be provided directly by the VR counselor, coordinated with other services, or purchased by the VR agency on an individual’s behalf.

Transition Planning

VR agencies serve adults with disabilities. However, VR counselors can be involved in your child’s transition planning as high school graduation approaches.

The specific services available to your child will depend on the initial steps of eligibility determination, assessment, and individualized planning with the VR counselor.

You’ll want to find out when your child should apply to VR in order to access services when needed. Local VR agencies may have a “backlog” of applications. Local VR staff can suggest the optimal time for your child to apply.

Ask your school district’s transition coordinator to assist by:

  • providing contact information for your local VR office
  • explaining and/or assisting with the VR application process
  • informing you of any presentations about VR services available in your area
  • arranging to invite a VR counselor to your child’s junior or senior year IEP meeting


The best way to learn about VR services in your area is to contact your local VR office.

You can link to state VR agencies here.

Ask your school district’s transition coordinator how to contact your local VR office.

You can also find out more general information about VR here:

Your turn

Has your son or daughter had experience working with a VR agency? Please share your insights in the comment section below.

If you think this post may be helpful to others – please share it!

Keep asking questions and supporting one another as our kids take one step at a time toward career goals.

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