Transition Alliance Program (TAP)
What is TAP?
The Transition Alliance Program (TAP) is a partnership between Ames Schools and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS). TAP was established in 1998 to provide assistance to eligible youth who require additional support as they become productive citizens within our community. A program at Ames High School since 2019, TAP participants receive assistance in the areas of vocational, educational, and life skills services.
Before participating in TAP, the student and a parent/guardian (if under 18) must provide written or verbal consent for the student to participate in TAP. Students who would be considered potentially eligible for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services would be students between ages 14-24, who are receiving services at school for a documented disability, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or a 504 plan. Pre-Employment Transition Services, or “Pre-ETS” cover five areas to assist students with their plans beyond high school:
- Job Exploration Counseling
- Work-Based Learning Experiences
- Counseling on Opportunities
- Workplace Readiness Training
- Self-Advocacy Instruction
Through the five pre-employment transition category services, students and their families would collaborate with the TAP Coordinator if additional services beyond high school would be beneficial for the student, and a referral can be made for services to continue with IVRS. When a student does apply for services beyond high school with IVRS, TAP is able to follow along with that individual after high school. TAP collaborates with participants and local area business partners to develop their interests, skills, abilities, and passions in order to find, maintain, and advance in employment. TAP also provides follow-up services to assure job success and ongoing support until participants reach age 25.
Who is Eligible for TAP?
TAP assists current and former students make the transition from high school to college and/or the workforce. TAP currently serves approximately 100 students and adults between the ages of 14-24 and our numbers are continuously growing. To be eligible for the TAP program, individuals must be a student at Ames High and have either:
- a documented disability,
- an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), or
- a 504 plan.
Students who participate in TAP are assumed to be potentially eligible for services with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS). For individuals wanting to continue services beyond high school, an application for IVRS is available in the TAP Coordinator’s office. These services would be collaborative with TAP. Typically, opening a IVRS file occurs in the student’s junior year if the student/family are interested in continuing services. For more information, please contact the TAP Coordinator.
How it Works:
Individuals are referred to TAP due to indication that post-secondary supports as they relate to employment are prevalent for the student and they meet the criteria listed above. Typically, students who are involved in TAP experience a barrier or barriers that impact their ability to obtain, maintain, or advance in employment. These are sometimes due to a physical limitation, mental health, or other ongoing medical condition or diagnosis. The TAP Coordinator and program participants collaborate on the individualized supports that are necessary to ensure success, and that looks different for each individual. Together, a plan is created to assist the individual in gaining meaningful experiences as they relate to the world of work, so they may confidently step into the next chapter of their life. Students need to have a signed Pre-ETS agreement completed by a parent or legal guardian (for students under age 18) or the student (for students age 18 and older) to receive TAP services. This can be completed electronically or printed and brought directly to the TAP Coordinator at the high school.
Pre-Employment Transition Services Categories
Job Exploration Counseling
Discussion or counseling on job/career options is intended to foster motivation, consideration of opportunities, and informed decision-making. Specific to youth, real-world activities ensure that students recognize the relevance of a high school education, and for some, a post-secondary education experience whether that be in a college or work-environment setting.
Examples include: info on in-demand industries and jobs, labor market information, administration/results of vocational interest inventory, info on career pathways, info on non-traditional employment options, career speakers who provide an overview of a specific job or career area, career index.
Work-Based Learning Experiences
An educational approach or instructional methodology that uses the workplace or real work to provide students with the knowledge and skills that will help them connect school experiences to real-life work activities and future career opportunities. These opportunities are meant to engage, motivate, and augment the learning process.
Examples include: informational interviews, work-site tours, job shadowing, mentoring opportunities in the community, explore students’ area of interest through paid/unpaid internships, apprenticeships (not including registered apprenticeships or pre-apprenticeship programs), short term employment, on the job trainings in the community, school base program of job training.
Counseling on Opportunities
Enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs at institutions of higher education. It is essential that students and their family members be provided information and guidance on a variety of post-secondary education and training opportunities.
Examples include: information on course offerings, information on program options, types of academic and occupational training needed to succeed in the workplace, post-secondary opportunities in various career fields or pathways, college application and admissions processes, completing FAFSA, connecting to disability support services, info on trade/technical schools, info on military, info on post-secondary programs at community colleges/universities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Workplace Readiness Training
Workplace Readiness traits describe a number of commonly expected skills that employers seek from most employees. Work readiness skills are a set of skills and behaviors that are necessary for any job. Work readiness skills are sometimes called soft skills, employability skills, or job readiness skills.
Examples include: programs to develop interpersonal skills, financial literacy training, orientation and mobility skills, job seeking skills training, understanding employer expectations, “soft” skills training, civic responsibility, and community safety.
Instruction in Self-Advocacy
Self-advocacy refers to an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert their own interests and/or desires. Self-determination means that individuals with disabilities have the freedom to plan their own lives, pursue the things that are important to them and to experience the same life opportunities as people in their communities. It means taking the responsibility for communicating one’s needs and desires in a straightforward manner to others. The development of self-advocacy skills should be started at an early age. These skills will be needed in education, workplace, and community settings.
Examples include: learning about their rights and responsibilities, requesting accommodations, requesting services/supports needed, conducting informational interviews, mentoring, youth leadership activities, understanding disability, problem solving, decision making, self-awareness, and knowing how to request assistance.
Why Choose TAP?
Benefits to Students
- Services provide students the individualized attention needed to address special needs and develop realistic goals.
- One-on-one counseling is provided for career and educational opportunities.
- Emphasis is placed on education and development of job seeking skills.
- Assistance in locating and maintaining employment.
- Year-round support is available to participants.
- Focus on continued growth, learning, and development.
Benefits to Employers
- Access to qualified and pre-screened employees.
- Work Opportunity Tax credits.
- On-the-job training monies to offset salary costs during initial training period.
- Job training/coaching provided.
- Reduced turnover and absenteeism.
- Follow along and follow-up services provided by TAP staff to assist in employee and employer support.
- Positive community image as the community witnesses a commitment to hiring area youth.
Benefits to Educators
- Involvement in school planning as part of a student’s team to assist with transition services.
- Follow along with students as they exit high school and enter post-secondary training and/or the world of work.
- Assist in providing encouragement, support and monitoring year-round as individuals pursue life goals.
- Connect school-based learning experiences with workplace success.
- Job Placement
- Job Instruction
- Career exploration
- Training: On-the-job and academic
- Independent Living Skills
- Crisis Intervention
- Paid Work Sites
- Follow up and follow along services quarterly for the first year after obtaining employment and closing successfully with IVRS and yearly until age 25
- Individualized services based on each participant’s wants and needs to assist in their transition from youth to adult life
Transition Alliance Program Coordinator
Ames High School
Transition Alliance Program Specialist
Ames High School