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OVR helps 175 get jobs or pursue higher education

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Since 2019, the Pre-Employment Transition Services program under The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation has already assisted 175 individuals, ranging in ages from 16 to 21, on either getting a job or pursuing higher education.

OVR Pre-ETS planner Tiava To’omata said the Pre-ETS program is for high school students between the ages 16 and 21 who are receiving services under the Special Education program with an individualized Education Plan or 504 plan, which are formal plans that schools develop to give children with disabilities the support they need.

It was learned that the program focuses on transitioning these students to either the workforce or postsecondary education. It offers trainings based on the five cores of the program: work-based learning, work readiness training, self-advocacy, counseling on postsecondary education, and job exploration.

Of about $900,000 that Rehabilitation Services Administration provides OVR through the U.S. Department of Education, 15% is mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 for the Pre-ETS program, To’omata said. This is a continuous grant that guarantees OVR funding for the program.

To date, OVR has had 175 individuals under the program, with 22 individuals who are currently enrolled. These individuals are put into establishments that OVR has already pre-screened.

According to Pre-ETS coordinator Samuel Santos, OVR is conducting an outreach on Tinian until Feb. 26. As for Rota, Santos said that there will be one in March but it is not confirmed if the outreach will be in person or online.

“Any business interested may avail to receiving one of our consumers. We pre-screen the consumers’ interest(s) and vocational goals and match it with the different positions that the businesses who we reached out to or vice-versa. We do not charge any cost to businesses or interested individuals who would like to apply for our programs,” said To’omata.

To’omata said that OVR was able to check on their first Paid Work Experience trainee under the Pre-ETS program, Virgie Elis, last Feb. 17. To’omata said that Herman’s Modern Bakery general manager Annie Hayes informed OVR that Elis has been doing a great job and they look forward to her continuing her training at the bakery.

“Virgie, likewise, has been enjoying this ‘new learning experience’ as she gets to work hands-on with very helpful staff. OVR extends our appreciation to Herman’s Modern Bakery for continuously being one of our stellar business partners and for employing and training people with disabilities,” said To’omata.

Businesses who wish to avail of this program can contact OVR’s executive director Maryann Borja or To’omata at 322-6537/8 or email at maryann@ovrgov.net or tiava@ovrgov.net. Individuals with disabilities who wish to enroll in the program can contact Borja or To’omata or visit their establishment’s special needs department.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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