Employment for Youth with Disabilities Part 1- 3:52
with Katy Neas of Easterseals
Posted Oct 16, 2017
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According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 2.8 million students are accommodated for specific learning disabilities. A discussion about inclusive early education programs and their impact in minimizing future challenges for children as they transition to higher education or the workforce. With Katy Neas, Vice President for Public Affairs at Easterseals, Inc. This discussion continues in part 2 of Employment for Youth with Disabilities.
Interview recorded Sept 27, 2017.
Traynham: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 7 million public-school students receive special-education services. And, of this group, 35% have specific learning disabilities, creating challenges for these young people to transition to the workforce. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham. My guest is Katy Neas. She's Executive Vice President for Public Affairs of Easterseals. Katy, welcome to the program.
Neas: Glad to be with you.
Traynham: You know, we often talk about children with special needs and their unique challenges, and also the opportunities that they face, but rarely, Katy, do I hear the conversation transitioning to the workforce. When that child becomes an adult, what does life look like for them? Before we talk about the adulthood, I want to maybe just focus on the broader question -- and is that an appropriate question, really, to ask -- is, what does that transition look like from "high school" to adulthood?
Neas: Sure, sure. Well, most of us started working in high school with a summer job, right? And that?s where we got our first learning experience. And so internships, summer jobs, things like that are really important to students with disabilities. About three years ago, our Easterseals affiliate in Delaware partnered with Best Buddies and their state vocational rehabilitation agency and did an inclusive summer-job program...
Traynham: What does that look like?
Neas: ...where they partnered high-school kids with disabilities with high-school kids who didn't have disabilities, and they worked at Grotto Pizza, or the hospital. And it was a paid, four-to-six-week internship where these two students got to learn about a job, about a possible career path, and they did it together, so they could see what success looked like for both the kid with a disability and the kid without a disability. We need more of that in this country so that kids can leave high school with a sense of what they want to do when they grow up.
Traynham: Katy, it sounds like it was an immersive experience for both sets of students, if you will. Talk to me for a few moments about the classroom and how that perhaps prepares the student into adulthood.
Neas: Sure, sure. We've seen real progress over the last decade in having students with disabilities have greater access to the curriculum, the studies that all the kids in school are taught. And as a result, we've seen more kids with disabilities leave high school with a standard high-school diploma. That standard high-school diploma is a real benchmark for any child, but it sets the stage for what can be next. So does it mean a student with a disability goes on to a two- or four-year college? Do they go into an apprenticeship? Do they go straight into the world of work? They have so many more choices. And over the last decade, we've seen from about 52% of kids in special education leaving with a standard high-school diploma, to now about 64%.
Neas:That's a huge jump. And that means that those young adults have a better chance to earn more, to be more independent, to have more self-direction about what they want out of their own lives.
Traynham: Join Katy and me for part 2, where we dig deeper into how Easterseals is empowering the next generation to attain greater independence and self-direction. Watch by clicking the link below.