Celebrating 10 years of helping youth with disabilities find jobs

SchooltoWork captureWith more than 1,100 students served over 10 years, King County’s School-to-Work program has plenty of reasons to celebrate.
On October 12, 2015, as part of National Disability Employment Awareness month, the Department of Community and Human Services Developmental Disabilities Division celebrated 10 successful years of the program and 1,136 students served by hosting a gathering of partners and stakeholders at the Southcenter Double Tree.

“The School-to-Work Program helps youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout King County seek and gain employment prior to exiting their high school transition programs,” Richard Wilson, School-to-Work Project/Program Manager, said. “With a 73% job start rate, and over half of all students who obtained employment still working, School-to-Work’s employment rate is nearly five times higher at graduation for students served versus those who did not enroll in the program.”

Nearly 240 people attended the event and were comprised of current and former students, families, teachers and school administrators, state partners from the Developmental Disabilities Administration and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, County employees, employment service agency staff, as well as local and national experts in transition and supported employment. This group was truly a representative mix of individuals and organizations that embody the King County School-to-Work Program as a service community.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Denise Rothleutner, the County’s Developmental Disabilities Division Director, thanked attendees for their years of investment and collaboration and also imparted the County’s continued commitment.

“This true cross-system collaboration is the foundation of School-to-Work’s ongoing success” Wilson said, “and it was great to not only hear from Dr. David Mank (Indiana University) of the program’s positive reputation outside the state, but the highlight of the evening was three presentations by students and families who shared the beneficial impact that the program has had on their lives and future.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates 70 years of the many talents and contributions that workers with disabilities add to America’s workforce and how this strengthens our communities and economy. King County’s School-to-Work Program is a strong local part of this larger effort by successfully providing our youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to embark in a positive and productive future through employment.