The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools have been was awarded a $200,000 grant from the state Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services to help students with disabilities prepare for careers.
The grant, under the state agency’s Pre-Employment Transition Program, will provide 90 students with paid internships at a rate of $12 per hour. It also will fund a transition coordinator who will supervise students preparing for their internships during the upcoming summer and fall, and spring 2019.
Teachers will be trained during the summer to incorporate workplace-readiness skills into their classrooms.
The new grant enhances a program in cooperation with the state agency that was initiated in 2016. So far, 180 students have benefited, according to Dr. Tracey Maccia, MCVTS director of special education. Students in the Schools of Career Development on the MCVTS East Brunswick and Piscataway Campuses are participating.
“Meaningful school-to-work transition planning requires teachers and administrators to address the critical issue of integrating school curriculum and business and industry expectations,” Maccia said.
“This grant continues our internship program and adds more components,” she said.
Among the employers participating in the program are Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen in New Brunswick, a number of YMCAs, the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, and the EARTH Center in South Brunswick.
Students are registered as volunteers at the worksites and paid by the state agency. They work from 1 to 6 p.m. two days a week during the school year.
Maccia said the program focuses on self-advocacy, self-determination, job placement, job maintenance, independent living, financial planning, use of transportation, and how to take advantage of support by community agencies.
The aim is to develop skills such as following instructions, interacting cooperatively and courteously with fellow employees, being reliable and punctual, seeking assistance as needed, and understanding safety procedures and job rules, Maccia said.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. More information is available at www.mcvts.net.