Overview of Legislation/Policy

Transition planning for students with disabilities is a shared effort governed by legislation and policy that includes various child-serving entities.

To assist students and youth with disabilities in achieving their post-school and career goals, Congress enacted two key statutes that address the provision of transition services: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Both the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act require transition services be made available to students and youth with disabilities as they prepare for and enter postsecondary life.

Both laws also make clear that transition services require a coordinated set of activities within an outcome-oriented process that relies upon active student involvement, family engagement, and cooperative implementation of transition activities, as well as coordination and collaboration between the vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency, the State educational agency (SEA), and the local educational agencies (LEAs). (U.S. Department of Education, 2020, p, IV)

U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities, Washington, D.C., 2020.

To access “A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities”: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/postsecondary-transition-guide-august-2020.pdf

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004

IDEA reauthorized in 2004, states that children with disabilities have the right to services to prepare them for post-secondary education, employment and independent living. Specifically, secondary transition is “a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is designed within a result-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.” (IDEA §300.43) https://sites.ed.gov/idea/

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) is responsible to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities by providing vocational rehabilitation, job training and placement services pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. WIOA places significant emphasis on the provision of services to students and youth with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Additionally, it requires that VR agencies reserve 15% of their budget to provide pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-113publ128/pdf/PLAW-113publ128.pdf

Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act (Act 26)

The Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act (Act 26) mandates OVR, in collaboration with Pennsylvania’s Department of Education (PDE), to collect and report data related to high school students with disabilities and with facilitating the process of job and career development between local education agencies (LEAs) and employers. As outlined in Act 26, and in collaboration with LEAs, OVR will provide information for the development of individual education plans for high school students with disabilities, ensuring that job skill training is included in the plans, when appropriate. When possible, OVR staff will attend individual education plan meetings in person or by alternative means, such as video conferences and conference calls, when invited by LEAs. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/li/uconsCheck.cfm?yr=2016&sessInd=0&act=26

Employment First (Act 36 of 2018)

Employment First (Act 36 of 2018) aims to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Employment First tasks OVR with meeting the following priorities: Prepare young people with a disability to become working adults with a disability; Transition students from secondary education to adult life; Assist adults with a disability in getting and keeping a competitive integrated job; Transportation; and Expand public-private partnerships. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/li/uconsCheck.cfm?yr=2018&sessInd=0&act=36

Memorandum of Understanding

Pennsylvania’s Department

March 1, 2021

Dear Stakeholders,

Dear Stakeholders,

With shared enthusiasm the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education (BSE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) are pleased to announce completion of a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The revision of the MOU is a product of ongoing collaboration between both agencies to strengthen agency partnership and enhance transition outcomes for students with disabilities in the Commonwealth.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Rehabilitation Act), requires coordination and collaboration between OVR and BSE. The Rehabilitation Act also requires OVR to collaborate with BSE to provide or arrange pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities.

The foundation of the MOU is derived from the core goals and values of the IDEA and Rehabilitation Act. The agencies seek to provide students with disabilities seamless access to services and supports to achieve their transition goals. The MOU emphasizes the collaboration between OVR and BSE by outlining key roles and responsibilities of each agency. BSE and OVR recognize an active, collaborative partnership between OVR, schools, and families is beneficial for students with disabilities. OVR and BSE are currently working with parent/youth stakeholders to develop an MOU Toolkit and a webinar series to support the statewide goals of the MOU. These resources also will help schools, families, and other agencies/organizations, schools, and families establish and build partnerships that improve transition outcomes for students with disabilities. Once released, the toolkit and webinars can be accessed at: https://tinyurl.com/EDOVR

We look forward to strengthening partnerships to improve transition outcomes that ensure students with disabilities are provided with meaningful opportunities that maximize their independence and self-sufficiency in their communities and prepare them for competitive integrated employment.


Shannon Austin M.S., Executive Director of Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Carole L. Clancy, Bureau Director of Special Education

Understanding the Memorandum of Understanding: OVR and BSE Working Together as One TOOLKIT

Unpacking the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

This session will provide information regarding the legal requirements and tenants of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Bureau of Special Education (BSE). In addition, a detailed plan for implementation will be introduced.


  1. April 8 webinar -Participant PPT
  2. PA 2020 - MOU BSE-PDE
  3. PA MOU OVR-BSE Professional Overview
  4. PA MOU OVR-BSE - Youth-Famly Overview
  5. OVR 2021 Pre-ETS Flyer
  6. NTACT-Interagency Collaboration for CIE
  7. NTACT- CIE Toolkit - Section 3

Engaging Stakeholders


1. April 21 webinar -PowerPoint

2. Why Students Should Work w-OVR

3. Special Education Timelines

4. Desk-Ref-Sp. Ed. Overview

5. Inviting OVR to IEP Mtgs

6. Process for Coord Betw OVR-LEA

7. Entitlement-vs-eligibility

8. Understanding-self-advocacy

9. Student Participation in IEP rubric

During this session, presenters will share strategies for engaging stakeholders in the transition planning process. Information regarding strategies for IEP participation, including family engagement, student-led IEPs, and agency involvement will be presented. Resources for including OVR in the IEP planning process and planning for transition services will be discussed.

Strategies for Aligning Efforts


1. May 13, 2020 Presentation

2. Pre-ETS Mapping Worksheet

3. OVR Pre-ETS Continuum

4. PA - MOU - IDEA-WIOA Sec Trans Crosswalks

During this session, participants will learn strategies to align efforts utilizing the PA Career Education and Work Standards and Pre-Employment Transition Services (PreETS) with IDEA transition requirements.