Now let's talk Vocational Rehab:
Since The Boy is classified as disabled, he's entitled to receive job skill services from the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The caseworker at Voc Rehab set a budget of $1800 for "job exploration and job skills assessment".
The goal was for The Boy to gain some much-needed job skills - and go through the interview process for an eventual part-time (minimum wage) job. In addition to a paycheck, he'd get the services of a job coach for an unspecified period of time. The job coach would help him learn what it would take to be successful at the job he earned.
At an initial meeting, The Boy was asked about his interests and his dislikes. He admitted that he was "very lazy", and that he had no interest in "cleaning" or "fast food". He preferred working in an office or work at a grocery store (stocking shelves or bagging groceries).
Things started out slowly – a vendor in St. Louis was chosen to provide these services…but they didn’t have an available employee to work with The Boy. So he waited...
Finally, someone was available. She took him to her office and they talked about job stuff, I guess. Just when they were getting ready to go to potential job sites, the woman left on maternity leave. No substitute employee was waiting in the wings.
Since they were short on workers, the agency's big boss lady had to take over. She picked The Boy up at home and (on different occasions) drove him to Walgreen’s, where he stocked shelves, and to Subway, where he insistantly told the manager that he would be given free food if he worked there.
The manager disagreed. She asked if he'd like to take a tour of their facility and The Boy said, "No thank you." It was obvious he wasn't getting a job there.
One day, they went to Wal-Mart and The Boy had a list of questions to ask a manager – a woman who was too busy doing her actual job to answer more than a couple questions before she blew him off and headed to another department.
At no time did the service provider tell him these were INTERVIEWS. He dressed like a bum and had a crappy attitude. He assumed all of these activities were part of the job assessment.
They never practiced interviewing skills, or talked about appropriate (or inappropriate) behaviors/statements/actions when speaking to potential employers.
He flunked out of the program. The woman told me that “he is not ready to work in the community at this time”. She also said that even if The Boy had snagged a job, they would not be able to provide a job coach because “we don’t offer services in your county”.
The State Voc Rehab office in St. Louis picked this provider. I’d like to think she’d have known the neighborhoods they work in. I’d also like to believe that the vendor would have spoken up about this limitation as well as informed The Boy about the reasons he was visiting local businesses.
He was clueless and was in full possession of a shitty attitude. Maybe I’m living in a dream world, but I’d like to think that The Boy would have behaved better had he known these encounters were more than just practice (you can’t assume he “gets it”, you have to tell him). And I know he’d have been driving me nutty about appropriate interview clothes.
So if you’re keeping score about The Boy’s transition from school to the real world:
Graduate? Check – but no diploma. That translates into no real classes, no real credits and no financial aid, and status as a provisional (translation: can't earn credits) student.
Placement test at community college? – he decided to employ his “eh, good enough” attitude and did so poorly that he has to take remedial classes.
Job skills training? Flunked out, due to his shitty attitude and unclear instructions and lack of preparation for successful completion.
Let’s hope this trend soon ends. I'm running out of hope.
ON A POSITIVE NOTE: The Boy attended Orientation at the local community college today. He also met with the Disabled Services person at the school to pick up accommodation letters he'll hand to his instructors on the first day of class. He has to self-identify as having a disability to receive accommodations. There's no IEP in college - you have to take the initiative to get help.
He called (after I reminded him) two of the instructors to arrange a time for class orientation - and he marked the dates/times on the calendar.
Baby steps...but steps nonetheless.