FAQs

Students and Parents

Who can participate in the Via Student Work Experience?

Eligible students are age 14 to 21 with a diagnosed disability or in a special education program who may require support in preparation, attainment and retention of competitive employment. Students should have an expressed desire in obtaining employment while in, or upon completion of, high school.

How do I sign up for the Via Student Work Experience program?

Complete our online application form or contact Cortney Lakis (C.Lakis@ViaNet.org | 484-893-5392).

 When do I need to sign up?

Application for this program is on a rolling basis.

 When does the program start and end?

Application for this program is on a rolling basis.  The Student Work Experience has four sessions per academic year – Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

Will I get paid during my internship?

Students are provided a stipend equal to $10.20/hour for their work time. Students are paid by Via of the Lehigh Valley with federal, state and local taxes deducted. Checks are mailed to student’s residences bi-weekly.

How long does the application process take?

The process takes two to three weeks. After a student is referred by the school district, OVR, Intermediate Unit or by having a parent/guardian complete an online application, an intake meeting is held with the student’s team. After the intake paperwork is completed, the student’s information is processed through the Via Admissions Committee which meets weekly. Once processed, the student is accepted into the program and the job match process begins. This referral process timing varies depending on the availability of the team to meet for an informational meeting and/or an intake.

Who works with students during the Via Student Work Experience?

Each student is matched with a Transition Coordinator who serves as the student and family’s main point of contact during the Student Work Experience. At the worksite, Career Coaches work with students to learn job tasks, workplace safety and establishing natural supports for the student.  Our staff have extensive training in strategies to help individuals succeed in the workplace. Via staff have Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances, Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Checks and FBI Criminal Background Checks.

Who is the main contact for the Via Student Work Experience?

Cortney Lakis, Director of Employment Services (C.Lakis@ViaNet.org | 610-628-2326 x501). Once a student is enrolled in the program, they will be assigned a Via Transition Coordinator who will be their main point of contact.

Is there a waiting list?

No, there is not a waiting list. The Via Student Work Experience is capped at 200 students for the 2017-18 school year and will accept referrals throughout the year. As we near filling each semester, preference will be given to students who are at risk of aging out of the school system with a focus on those students within two years of graduation or age 21.

What is the curriculum for the small group trainings?

The curriculum consists of weekly individual or small group training for two hours per week. Trainings include job search techniques, job application training, resume preparation, interview skills with mock experiences, and workplace problem-solving skills. Workplace behaviors such as communication and problem-solving skills will be emphasized.

Who provides transportation to and from the worksite?

Transportation needs are addressed on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with school districts.

 

Schools or School Districts

Who should we refer to the Via Student Work Experience?

Referrals should be based on a student’s interest in career exploration. Students should have an expressed desire in obtaining employment while in, or upon completion of, high school. Eligible students are age 14 to 21 with a diagnosed disability or in a special education program who may require support in preparation, attainment and retention of competitive employment.

How long does the referral process take?

The process takes two to three weeks. After a student is referred by the school district, OVR, Intermediate Unit or by having a parent/guardian complete an online application, an intake meeting is held with the student’s team. After the intake paperwork is completed, the student’s information is processed through the Via Admissions Committee which meets weekly. Once processed, the student is accepted into the program and the job match process begins. This referral process timing varies depending on the availability of the team to meet for an informational meeting and/or an intake.

Are students guaranteed entry to the Via Student Work Experience?

Entry into the program is considered on a case by case basis determinant upon eligibility. The Via Student Work Experience is capped at 200 students for the 2017-18 school year and will accept referrals throughout the year. As we near filling each semester, preference will be given to students who are at risk of aging out of the school system with a focus on those students within two years of graduation or age 21.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Students must have a diagnosed disability, be between the ages of 14 and 21, and be OVR eligible. Current enrollment in OVR services is not required. Students who are interested in career/work exploration with an expressed desire to obtain gainful competitive employment will be given priority for participation.

Who works with students during the Via Student Work Experience?

Each student is matched with a Via Transition Coordinator who serves as the student and family’s main point of contact during the Via Student Work Experience. At the worksite, Via Career Coaches work with students to learn job tasks, workplace safety and establishing natural supports for the student. Via staff have extensive training in strategies to help individuals succeed in the workplace. Via staff members have Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances, Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Checks and FBI Criminal Background Checks.

Who is the main contact for the Via Student Work Experience?

Cortney Lakis, Director of Employment Services (C.Lakis@ViaNet.org | 610-628-2326 x501). Once a student is enrolled in the program, they will be assigned a Via Transition Coordinator who will be their main point of contact.

How do students get paid for Via Student Work Experience?

Students are provided a stipend equal to $10.20/hour for their work time. Students are paid by Via of the Lehigh Valley with federal, state and local taxes deducted. Checks are mailed to student’s residences bi-weekly. There is no cost to the employer.

What data is collected about student participation?

Data is collected about students from their start in Via Student Work Experience and up to and including two years after completion. Attendance, pre/post testing scores, job tasks, resume completion, number of job applications completed, number of job interviews, job attainment, wage rate, etc. will be gathered.

What happens after the conclusion of the semester?

Post-Experience summary evaluations are compiled for each student within 30 days of the completion of the Via Student Work Experience. Via Transition Coordinators and Intake Coordinator are available to answer any questions and provide support for continued vocational services upon completion of the program. Via Student Work Experience staff track the students’ progress during the school year and for two years following completion of the program should the student agree to participate.

What is the curriculum for the small group or individual trainings?

The curriculum consists of weekly individual or small group training for two hours per week. Trainings include job search techniques, job application training, resume preparation, interview skills with mock experiences, and workplace problem-solving skills. Workplace behaviors such as communication and problem-solving skills will be emphasized.

Where are the small group or individual trainings held?

Weekly individual or small group trainings are held in a variety of places dependent upon the training topic. They are typically held at the worksite and/or school; this is dependent upon the school district and work placement of the student.

Who provides transportation to and from the worksite?

Transportation needs will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with school districts.

 

Host Employers

How do students get paid for Via Student Work Experience?

Students are provided a stipend equal to $10.20/hour for their work time. Students are paid by Via of the Lehigh Valley with federal, state and local taxes deducted. Checks are mailed to student’s residences bi-weekly. There is no cost to the employer.

Are students our employees during the internship?

No, students are employed through and paid by Via of the Lehigh Valley.

Does Via of the Lehigh Valley’s liability insurance cover students at our worksite?

Yes, Via of the Lehigh Valley liability insurance covers Via staff and students at your worksite. Certificate of liability insurance will be provided.

What are the levels of disability of student participants?

The level of disability varies among students just like the level of ability varies amongst all individuals. Via matches students to your worksite based on their interests and skills.

Who are Peer Mentors?

Peer Mentors are individuals employed with your company that receive training from Via of the Lehigh Valley at no cost to you. Peer Mentors serve as a support to help students learn and master a job but are not required to be with the students at all times. There is no added cost for an employee to be a Peer Mentor.

How do I choose a Peer Mentor?

Via Transition Coordinators meet with your management team to identify Peer Mentors within your place of employment. Transition Coordinators provide individual or small group training sessions with Peer Mentors that involves a curriculum for work-based learning facilitation and development. The training is completed within four weeks prior to the placement of students.

Who works with students during the Via Student Work Experience?

Each student is matched with a Via Transition Coordinator who serves as the student and family’s main point of contact during the Via Student Work Experience. At the worksite, Via Career Coaches work with students to learn job tasks, workplace safety and establishing natural supports. Via staff have extensive training in strategies to help individuals succeed in the workplace. Via staff members have Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances, Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Checks and FBI Criminal Background Checks.

Who is the main contact for the Via Student Work Experience?

Cortney Lakis, Director of Employment Services (C.Lakis@ViaNet.org | 610-628-2326 x501). Once a student is enrolled in the program, they will be assigned a Via Transition Coordinator who will be their main point of contact, as well as the host employer’s.

Who do I contact in case of an emergency?

Host Employer sites are provided a list of contact information for the Via Student Work Experience team. Each student and/or group have a Via Career Coach with them at your worksite and are your first point of contact in case of an emergency. You may also contact your designated Via Transition Coordinator or the Via Student Work Experience Manager.

Am I required to hire students at conclusion of the internship?

It is not a requirement or expectation that you hire students once their internships are complete.

What if I want to hire a student?

If you would like to hire a student at the conclusion of their work experience, your Via Transition Coordinator will provide the necessary support to both you and the student for the hiring process and ongoing job coaching.

How many students participate per session at our worksite?

The number of students per session at your worksite vary depending on employer preference.

What is the Host Employer’s commitment to the Via Student Work Experience?

There is no contract involved in the Via Student Work Experience, however, full completion of the nine week program is required in order to allow students to successfully complete the work experience. Support is provided to employers and peer mentors throughout the process.

 

For more information or to apply, contact:
Cortney Lakis, Director of Employment Services
C.Lakis@ViaNet.org | 610-628-2326 x501

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