WESTFIELD, NJ — For some students with disabilities, “What happens after high school?” can be a daunting question.

Through the Westfield-based Union County Educational Services Commission (UCESC) Transition Program, many are now gaining essential skills to prepare them for a lifetime of community integrated competitive employment once school is over. The collaborative program is run and operated by all of the school districts across Union County, and tuition is paid for by the districts.

“I’m excited to be part of this,” said Josh Bornstein, transition services supervisor. “It’s an important program. It offers them a level playing field to step out into the world and find employment.”

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“The typical student who works in our program is 17 to 21 years old and still in school,” said Bornstein. Many participants have completed their academic requirements to graduate but are not yet ready to leave, he explained.

The program matches each student with an employer or organization in the community and sends each with his or her own job coach every day. In return for their work, the students earn school credit. For both the students and the employer, “It makes it a win-win,” said Bornstein.

Westfield businesses involved in the program have included Salon Bella, Brick Oven and Williams Nursery.

“The real goal is to make them employable, and often times it’s a real happy ending when they end up getting employed there,” said Bornstein.

New to the program this year will be travel training to teach the students how to navigate the public transit system, helping them become even more independent.

For more information about UCESC transition services, click here.