Smiling girl with Down Syndrome reading a text book

Feros Care Community Development Coordinator, Tricia Hoad has a simple piece of advice for preparing school leavers with disability for employment or further education.

“Start early,” she says.

Feros Care Local Area Coordinators noticed in planning meetings that young participants and parents were experiencing difficulties transitioning from school. They found there was a big gap in knowledge for both families and colleges when it came to options for students with disability moving into employment or further education.

“Colleges were telling us that families were approaching them in the last term of Year 12, not knowing what the next step for their young person was,” Tricia explains. “Families were also telling us that there was a gap in information, and they did not know where to go or what they needed to find out about.”

“After listening to the community, we developed the Step 2 Education & Employment Project, aimed at bridging that gap.”

HELPING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY MAKE INFORMED CHOICES

Feros Care's Step 2 Education & Employment team have spent the better part of two years working with educators, families and a wide range of community organisations, to help students with disability make informed choices about their future with the right supports in place to meet their goals.

And the choices are many, as are the organisations that can provide support. Over the course of the project the team developed an invaluable resource that brought all these options together in one easy-to-use place.

TIPS FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE

The Step 2 Education & Employment Guide has benefited from the wisdom of people with many years of lived experience caring for children with disability.

“Many of our Local Area Coordinators are either parents of children with disability and have walked beside them as they transitioned from high school to the next stage of their lives or have a wealth of experience gained over the years working with young people. They were happy to share their experience and what helped them – as well as tips that they wished they’d known themselves,” says Tricia.

“The tips for parents section of the resource includes suggestions that range from the practical - like encouraging your young person to become comfortable with getting out and about in the community and empowering them to understand their rights in the workplace - to the aspirational - helping young people to explore the things they love.”

Launched at the end of 2020, with a special event at Hawker College, the guide has already played a part in helping young people move closer to their goals. One family at the event had a child in Year 10 who wanted to go to University but were not sure what they could do to support them in that dream. The Step 2 team were able to provide lots of options and linkages to tailored university programs, and the family went away with a plan, full of helpful information, and optimism for the future.

“This young person now has three years to plan and take practical steps toward their goal, and we’ll be there to support them, their family and college the whole way,” Tricia exclaims.

The Step 2 Education & Employment Guide for the ACT is available for download from Feros Care, and will shortly be available for people in Queensland and South Australia.

For more employment resources for people with disability, download the Your Disability Your Way Guide – a resource for people with disability undertaking study, volunteering or employment. 

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