Creating Your Vision for the World of Work

The time to begin exploring and recognizing the power of work begins in childhood. Youth with disabilities — learn about and connect with the many resources designed to help you discover the possibilities.

Work-Based Learning Experiences

From job shadows to internships and paid work, experiences help you discover your interests.

Exploration & Guidance

A variety of exploration tools exist such as My Colorado Journey to help you consider options and education you may need along the way.


Many people find new or better jobs through friends or family connections. This is often called social capital and it’s never too early to start building it.


Learning to speak up for yourself helps you prepare for adult life, including work and career. Check out Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate!

Colorado Profile: Jess Lawhead used his community connections to get employed at his favorite pizza restaurant.

Where To Begin the Process?

Various programs can represent the first step, and getting connected with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) opens up doors for many of them.

Secondary Transition Services

The Colorado Department of Education guides school district-provided services focused on preparing students for adult life, typically under an Individual Education Program (IEP).

School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP)

SWAP job placement and other employment readiness services are available in a number of school districts throughout the state.

Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

The DVR-funded programs around the state offer creative ways for youth to experience employment settings. A DVR counselor may be able to connect you to a Pre-ETS program in your area.

Benefits Counseling

The Benefits counseling can help you and your family understand how work will impact benefits. Visit our benefits counseling page to find a resource to fit your needs.

Coming in November 2021: Disability Benefits 101 — an employment planning tool for people with disabilities.

Work Elevated – Youth Brochures

The Colorado Office of Employment First, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, have published youth and family brochures. Check out English and Spanish versions of How to Get Employed and Preparing for Employment During COVID-19. A resource for educators, Talking About Employment in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process, is also available in English and Spanish. And the Transition Planning Checklist for Employment provides action steps for working with students with disabilities.

Download and share:

Watch previously recorded, youth-related webinars:

Resources for Families

Empowered family members support tomorrow’s workers with disabilities to believe in themselves and understand the importance of their participation in the labor market.

PEAK Parent Center

Training, information and technical assistance for self-advocates and their families.

Thrive Center

Advisement, workshops and programs for low-income, linguistically-diverse families who have children with disabilities

Colorado Programs Leading the Way

Empowered family members support tomorrow’s workers with disabilities to believe in themselves and understand the importance of their participation in the labor market.

CareerWise Colorado

On-the-job, apprenticeships for youth on a wide variety of trades and professions through CareerWise.

Project SEARCH

Real work experience for high school students. This locator holds current and future site information.

Governor’s Summer Job Hunt

Colorado Workforce Centers can assist you with landing your 1st summer job – check out the Summer Job Hunt.

JFK Partner Logo

The Colorado Office of Employment First sits under JFK Partners, the state’s University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, a program of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Its creation was envisioned by Colorado Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP), a multi-state agency and stakeholder-led collaborative, and was made possible, in part, by funding from the Colorado Legislature and generously matched through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).

© 2023 Colorado Office of Employment First. All Rights Reserved.

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