Laws and Regulations


The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) believes in the talent and potential of individuals with disabilities, and invests in the future through creativity, ingenuity, and innovation. These values align with the focus on services to students and youth in the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). The WIOA seeks to ensure that students and youth with disabilities have meaningful opportunities to receive the services needed to achieve quality competitive integrated employment outcomes. This intention is demonstrated, in part, by outlining specific services (pre-employment transition services) to be made available to all students with disabilities.

The federal regulations for the WIOA define students and youth with disabilities and describe pre-employment transition services. For links to relevant laws, go to the Laws & Regulations section of the Resources for Youth & Family page .



A youth with a disability is an individual who meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Is not younger than 14 or older than 24 years of age.

  2. Is an individual with a disability.


Students with disabilities are a subset of youth with disabilities. A student with a disability is an individual who meets the criteria listed below:

  1. Is not younger than 16 or older than 21 years of age.

  2. Is enrolled in a recognized education program.

  3. Is one or more of the following:

    1. Eligible for and receiving special education or related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

    2. Eligible for and receiving accommodations under a 504 plan.

    3. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, and has a record of or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Pre-Employment Transition Services

Consistent with the WIOA, the DOR offers pre-employment transition services to all students with disabilities in California who are eligible or potentially eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

The three types of pre-employment transition services are required activities (known as DOR Student Services in California), coordination activities, and authorized activities. These provide job exploration and other services in the early stages of the transition process to assist students with disabilities to begin to identify and prepare for post-secondary education and employment.


The DOR, in coordination with local educational agencies, actively works with students and families to ensure that the five required activities are available to students with disabilities throughout the state. These services may be general or individualized in nature and are provided in accordance with the needs of the individual.

The five required activities are listed below, along with examples of how these services may be provided.

  1. Job Exploration Counseling

    • Exploration of information about labor market composition, in-demand industry sectors, and nontraditional employment.

    • Discussions regarding in-demand occupations, career pathways, and vocational interest inventory results.

  2. Work-Based Learning Experiences

    • Paid or unpaid internships, apprenticeships, short-term employment, and on-the-job trainings in the community.

    • Participation in informational interviews, work site tours, job shadowing, and mentoring opportunities in the community.

  3. Postsecondary Enrollment Counseling

    • Reviewing information about college, vocational, or trade school application and admissions processes, course offerings, career options, and resources available to support student success.

    • Advising students and parents on academic curricula, postsecondary opportunities associated with career fields or pathways, and the type of academic and occupational training needed to succeed in the workplace.

    • Support in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  4. Workplace Readiness Training

    • Opportunities to acquire and apply work-appropriate social skills, such as communication and interpersonal skills.

    • Development of independent living skills such as financial literacy, mobility, and job-seeking skills.

    • Learning about employer expectations for punctuality, performance, and other "soft" skills necessary for employment.

  5. Self-Advocacy Training

    • Learning about rights and responsibilities, and how to request accommodations or services and supports. Practice communicating thoughts, concerns, and needs.

    • Participation in youth leadership activities, peer mentoring, or mentoring with educational staff.


The DOR also performs coordination activities, which support the planning, arranging, and provision of the required activities. These activities help ensure that pre-employment transition services are well-sequenced with services provided from other entities, and that opportunities to engage in pre-employment transition services are available to students with disabilities statewide.

Coordination activities consist of the following:

  1. Attending individualized education program (IEP) meetings, when invited.

  2. Working with schools to coordinate and ensure the provision of pre-employment transition services.

  3. Attending person-centered planning meetings with regional centers, when invited, for individuals receiving services under title XIX of the Social Security Act.

  4. Working with the local workforce development boards, one-stop centers (now known as America's Job Centers of California), and employers to develop work opportunities for students with disabilities, including internships, summer employment, apprenticeships, and other employment opportunities available throughout the school year.


The DOR understands the importance of continually improving the effectiveness, capacity, and network of the service delivery system. Through appropriate use of the authorized activities listed below, the DOR works to expand and improve California's infrastructure for pre-employment transition services.

  1. Implementing strategies to increase independent living and inclusion in communities and competitive integrated workplaces.

  2. Developing and improving strategies for individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals with significant disabilities to live independently, participate in postsecondary education, and obtain, advance in, and retain competitive integrated employment.

  3. Providing instruction to vocational rehabilitation counselors, school transition personnel, and other persons supporting students with disabilities.

  4. Disseminating information about innovative, effective, and efficient approaches to achieve the goals of pre-employment transition services.

  5. Coordinating activities with transition services provided by local educational agencies.

  6. Applying evidence-based findings to improve policy, procedure, practice, and the preparation of personnel to achieve the goals of pre-employment transition services.

  7. Developing model transition demonstration projects.

  8. Establishing or supporting multistate or regional partnerships involving states, local educational agencies, designated state units, developmental disability agencies, private businesses, or other participants to achieve the goals of pre-employment transition services.

  9. Disseminating information and strategies to improve the transition to postsecondary activities of individuals who are members of traditionally unserved and underserved populations.