- The California Department of Education completed a two-year study in 1981 that provided substantive information concerning the status of vocational programs for students with disabilities. Results of the study indicated that these students were not being adequately prepared for the labor market.
- WorkAbility I was initiated in November 1981 as a pilot project to test the concept of work experience for youth with disabilities.
- WorkAbility I continues to successfully conduct interagency coordination of services, which began with a September 1982 Employment Development Department, State Department of Rehabilitation and California Department of Education (CDE) non-financial interagency agreement.
- Through a designation as one of the ten best transition programs of its type in the United States, WorkAbility I has received national recognition of its success in matching young adults who have disabilities with employers who need workers.
California Education Code
- Section 56470 -
The legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) That an essential component of transition services developed and supported by the CDE is project WorkAbility.
(b) that the WorkAbility program provides instruction and experiences that reinforce core curriculum concepts and skills leading to gainful employment. (c)That since project WorkAbility was established by the CDE in 1981, substantial numbers of individuals with exceptional needs have obtained full or part-time employment.
- Section 56471 - (d) WorkAbility project applications shall include, but are not limited to, the following elements: (1) recruitment, (2) assessment, (3) counseling, (4) pre-employment skills training (5) vocational training, (6) students wages for try-out employment, (7) placement in unsubsidized employment, (8) other assistance with transition to a quality adult life and (9) utilization of an interdisciplinary advisory committee to enhance project goals.
Mission of WorkAbility I (WAI)
The mission of WAI is to promote the involvement of key stakeholders including students, families, educators, employers and other agencies in planning and implementing an array of services that will culminate in successful student transition to employment, lifelong learning and quality of life.
Array of Services
The Array of Services (DOC; Posted 12-May-2009) is a full continuum consistent with the Education Code. These components comprise an effective transition system for middle school and high school students. A WAI student (served) must be provided curriculum integration of work readiness skills, career/vocational assessment and a minimum of one Connecting Activity and one Work Based Learning Service.
- Array of Services Definitions (Updated 12-Jan-2010)
Provides a basis for program consistency
WAI Program Information
- The WAI program provides comprehensive pre-employment skills training, employment placement and follow-up for high school students in special education who are making the transition from school to work, independent living and post secondary education or training.
- The WAI program offers special education students the opportunity to complete their secondary education while also obtaining marketable job skills.
- The WAI program seeks employers in the business community who will give students with special needs a chance to prove themselves.
- The WAI program is funded and administered by the CDE.
Why WAI Works
- Program services are appropriate to individual student needs, abilities and interests.
- Local program sites successfully coordinate state and local service providers to offer comprehensive services tailored to local economic, social and geographic needs and abilities.
- WAI provides secondary students with an understanding of job seeking and job keeping skills. The employability of students improves through occupational class training and on-the-job subsidized or unsubsidized work experience.
- Two year follow-along support services provided by local program staff greatly increase the potential for student employment success.
- Referral by WAI staff post secondary education/training, employers to adult service provider agencies increases the likelihood for continued social service agency support and student success as contributing adults in a community.
Current WAI Site Information
- 300 local education agency WAI program sites are funded statewide.
- All 58 California counties are served by a WAI program.
Coordination with Businesses and Corporations Statewide
- Annually over 10,000 employers statewide have found WAI students to be well prepared for entry-level employment, reliable employees and assets to their businesses. Consequently, employers and labor unions have built strong, long-term partnerships with local WAI staff.
- For persons with disabilities, assumptions of low work potential have been discounted as soon as an equal opportunity, proper training and information about appropriate accommodations becomes available to them.
- For employers, WAI provides workers who are job-ready and anxious to learn.
- For society, employment for persons with disabilities through
the WAI program allows them the opportunity to contribute
to society by producing a product or providing a service, as
well as by paying taxes instead of receiving long-term financial
- California Minimum Wage effective January 1, 2007 (PDF)
Laws and Regulations
Resources, Information, and Training Opportunities
- Workability I State Advisory Leadership Meeting Agenda
Goals, activities, contact information and meeting notices.
- WorkAbility I Regions and Contact Information
- WorkAbility I Resources (Revised 17-Jan-2012)
Acronyms and resource links for families and professionals.
- WorkAbility I Documents Timelines
For Grant Year July 1 – June 30.
- Job Codes (DOC; Updated 09-Mar-2009) | PDF (Updated 09-Mar-2009)
CBEDS Codes and Career Cluster Area.
- Transition to Adult Living: An Information and Resource Guide
Handbook of transition efforts for students with disabilities as they move from their junior high and high school years into the world of adulthood and/or independent living - revised in 2007 and includes changes as related to the regulations of IDEA 2004.