Extra career help for graduates with disabilities
Young adults in Fulton County, Georgia, who have learning and developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy and autism, continue to gain career support from their school district even after they’ve completed high school.
The Learning Independence for Employment (LIFE) program connects students age 18 to 22 with jobs at Atlanta-area employers, such as Georgia State University, Verizon Wireless, Kimberly-Clark Corporation and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
The students, led by certified teachers based at the worksite, take jobs as retail assistants, mailroom sorters, food preparers, day care assistants and manufacturing aides. Several programs teach students how to take public transportation to work.
At Georgia State University, for example, students are introduced to the independent life of just being enrolled at college. They meet for dinners in the dorms and attend football games.
“We realized there was a subset of students we weren’t helping once they left our doors” says Cristy Smith, Fulton County Schools’ executive director of services for exceptional children. “What can we do to ensure that these students don’t leave school at graduation and then sit at home? When families age or there’s no family member available to provide care, it becomes a problem.”