The Transition Alliance Program helps young adults learn the skills necessary to make the transition from high school to adulthood.
Jeff Halter, interim head coordinator, spoke to the Fort Dodge Noon Rotary Club Monday about TAP, a partnership between Fort Dodge Community Schools and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
The program started in July, Halter said.
"It's still in what we like to call its infancy stage," he said. "There's still a lot of developing in the program toward what we want it to look like, and what the different needs are that we are going to be serving."
The voluntary program's goal is to "take students who normally may not be able to have the means to work and live independently and provide them with services that are going to assist them so they can live and work independently after high school."
"For most of our students, it's making sure they're developing the skills that they need to be community employable," he said. "That can range from anything to job-specific skills to having appropriate communication skills."
TAP assists Fort Dodge Senior High students from age 16 and provides follow up services until age 25. They must be determined eligible by Voc Rehab.
Halter said the year-round program plans to serve at least 20 students in its first year.
"We are looking for students who feel this is a program they are going to benefit from, and are willing to put in the work and time that's needed for them to be successful," he said. "I can only see the program growing exponentially."
Among its services, TAP helps its clients learn about handling money, to build a resume or overcome hurdles such as transportation. Each client receives an individualized plan for employment, based on their career interests and skills.
"We try to match them up with employment of something they're interested in," Halter said. "We all know that if there's something we're interested in or something we like, we're more likely to stick with that as far as work, and more likely to be successful."
Post-secondary education isn't ruled out, with some clients attending a local community college, but rarely a four-year college, Halter said. TAP's assistance is mostly vocational.
According to Halter, the need for the program is great. Fort Dodge has referred more high school students than any other high school or city in the state.
"Think about that. We have more students in Fort Dodge Community School district who have been referred to Voc Rehab services than any other city in the state," he said. "To me, that's huge."
While Fort Dodge might refer more students to Voc Rehab than any other city in the state, there might not be as much need as other Iowa cities and school districts, Halter said.
"It just means our teachers in our district have done a great job of referring students who have that need to the service that's available to them," he said. "I would give our district and the teachers in our district kudos to the fact that they've done a great job of referring those students who have that need to the appropriate service. It shows the need for us to have this program."
Halter asked the gathering of community business leaders to keep TAP in mind for providing beneficial outside resources and also when considering future hiring.
"There's a lot of you out there who could be potential employers," he said. "A lot of our students, the type of work they're going be looking for is more of your hands-on work. The types of students I've been talking with so far, many of them are interested in trades such as construction."
TAP clients are also interested in medical sector positions and positions in day care, Halter said.