Interviewing Families for Effective Transition to Employment
Hutchins, Margaret P., Renzaglia, Adelle, Teaching Exceptional Children
Questions like these can help parents frame their concerns and beliefs about their sons and daug*iters as they participate in plans for their children's future lives, particularly their future employment.
We have developed a process, the Family Vocational Interview, that can assist special educators and transition specialists as they work with students like Julie and Robbie and their families to plan vocational experiences (Renzaglia et al., 1995). This process, which can begin when students are 12 years old, assists in decisions associated with selecting work experiences and long-term job placements for students with moderate and severe disabilities (see box, page 74, "A Mini-Survey of Transition").
In this article, we share the interview format that professionals at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and nearby public schools designed and used to engage families in dialogue regarding the vocational programming for their sons and daughters with disabilities (see box, page 76, "Collaboration and Implementation").
We also provide recommendations for conducting the interview, as well as integrating the procedures into students' longitudinal transition planning process. Figure 1 shows sample questions and formats for the interview process, and Figure 2, page 75, shows a reduced copy of the actual instrument.
Interview as Exploration: Format and Content
The Family Vocational Interview serves as a guide for communicating with family members and exploring their concerns and issues related to current and future vocational instruction and experiences. It is designed to assess family input on a continuous basis and document changes in the perspectives, goals, ambitions, needs, and concerns indicated by the family and student with disabilities as the student progresses through his or her educational program.
The questionnaire has six parts: parental expectations, experience and preference, personal needs, family support, transportation, and wages and benefits.
The first questions help determine family members' goals and attitudes toward future employment for their child. We designed the questions to stimulate a discussion of the family's expectations and vision of their son's or daughter's work training program, as well as their employment outcomes on graduation from school.
Specific questions focus on the following issues:
The student's current responsibilities at home and how he or she spends time after school and in the summer.
What interest family members have in the student's employment for the future.
Anticipated residential accommodations after graduation.
Available resources to assist the student, if needed.
The preferred amount of time to be spent on a job (i.e., number of hours and months).
The information obtained provides an insight into the family's priorities for their child and the importance that they place on employment goals for the future.
Experiences and Preferences
The second set of questions focuses on the previous work experiences in which the student may have participated and the family's perspective about and satisfaction with those experiences. This discussion provides insights into a student's work history and allows the family to share their likes and dislikes about these experiences.
In addition, the interviewer continues to assess the family's perception of preferred employment experiences for the future. Questions attempt to reveal information related to family and individual preferences for the types of industry or actual jobs, as well as specific tasks that could assist in identifying appropriate positions for work experience or long-term employment.
Information regarding the personal care or communication needs of a person with disabilities is vital to the appropriate selection of work experiences or a job placement. …