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WIA Youth Services and Individuals with Disabilities
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) establishes a coordinated system
to help low-income young people between the ages of 14 and 21 define
their educational and career goals. Low-income youth are eligible to
receive employment and training services through funds allotted to
states on a formula basis. Services are provided throughout the year,
under the direction of Youth Councils, which WIA requires be
established in each local workforce area. WIA provides a comprehensive
service strategy for youth, with year-round services for eligible
What are the types of youth activities that are available under WIA?
WIA states that the following services must be made available to
participants in youth programs*:
- Tutoring, study skills training, and instruction leading to
secondary school completion, including dropout prevention strategies.
- Alternative secondary school offerings.
- Summer employment opportunities directly linked to academic and
- Paid and unpaid work experiences, including internships and job
- Occupational skill training.
- Leadership development opportunities, including such activities
as positive social behavior and soft skills, decision making, team work, and other activities.
- Supportive services.
- Adult mentoring for a duration of at least twelve (12) months,
that may occur both during and after program participation.
- Follow-up services.
- Comprehensive guidance and counseling, including drug and
alcohol abuse counseling, as well as referrals to counseling, as
appropriate to the needs of the individual youth..
Local programs have the discretion to determine what specific program
services will be provided to a youth participant, based on each
participants objective assessment and individual service strategy.
In what ways are youth with disabilities considered eligible for WIA
While young people with disabilities can qualify for youth services
under the same criteria as any other individual, WIA includes
provisions to ensure that youth with disabilities have additional
opportunities to participate.
- When determining income criteria for eligibility, for youth with
disabilities WIA considers only the personal income of the teenager,
not the income of his/her family.
- Up to five percent of participants in youth programs do not have
to meet income criteria, as long as they are from specific populations,
one of which is youth with disabilities.
- Low-income youth with disabilities who need additional assistance
to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment are
specifically designated as eligible for youth services.
- Any youth who meets the income eligibility criteria for receiving
cash payments from any Federal, state, or local public assistance
program (such as SSI benefits from Social Security), is automatically
eligible for youth services.
The bottom line: given these criteria, many if not most young people
with disabilities ages 14-21 are eligible for youth services under WIA.