Self-Advocacy and Peer Mentoring

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 established that students with disabilities must be provided with information that can help them with self-determination and self-advocacy, including peer mentoring.  Instruction in Self-Advocacy, including the support of a peer mentor, is one of five required Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) funded by 15% of the federal $3.6 billion annual vocational rehabilitation (VR) budget.  

If a State VR Agency uses peer mentors to provide any of the five required Pre-ETS services, can they charge the cost of the peer mentor delivering the required service to the minimum reserve requirement for Pre-ETS?

Yes. The peer mentor in this scenario is treated in the same way as any other contracted service provider and the cost incurred providing direct Pre-ETS services that fall under any of the five required Pre-ETS activities, could be charged to the funds reserved for pre-employment transition services.

Source: WINTAC’s FAQs Pre-employment transition services

What is Peer Mentoring? 

Peer Mentoring includes the development and use of peer mentoring networks for young people and especially students with disabilities to help them prepare for and transition from secondary education to postsecondary education and employment through the power and influence of high expectations, self-determination and the development of self-advocacy skills.

Evidence shows students peer mentoring students promotes success: efficiency of cost, availability of mentors, and the effectiveness of peer mentoring over traditional mentoring due to shared perspective and perceived credibility.  

Is the most efficient way of delivering self-advocacy the traditional teacher instructs student model?  Or is there a role for more experienced students to model and mirror advocacy through a relationship built on trust and common perspective? 

This short article by Dr. Peter J. Collier explores the value of peer mentoring for students and helps answer these questions on trustworthiness, expertise, credibility, and the development of a shared common perspective. 

Best Practices in Peer Mentoring? How does peer mentoring work in the VR space?

How do State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) and Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) turn the promise of peer mentoring into an effective practice?  In 2017, the National Mentoring Resource Center released a review that identified key findings and resources:

The most significant impacts on peer mentoring program effectiveness appear to be the mentors’ attitudes and motivations, clarity of programmatic infrastructure, and fidelity of its implementation. The means by which programs have positive effects on mentees appears to be largely through the consistent and affirming presence of mentors, and the clarity and predictability resulting from a clear program structure. Practitioners could enhance their programmatic practices by taking into account available research. It is suggested that practitioners and peer mentoring providers:

  • Build a strong foundation by selecting the right coordinators and the right mentors.
  • Select the right match activities to scaffold relationship building.
  • Provide lots of training and supervision to peer mentors.
  • Let the youth lead as much as possible.

Source: National Mentoring Resource Center’s Peer Mentoring article.

Peer MentoringWorks Community of Practice 

The Peer MentoringWorks Community of Practice (PMW CoP) connects a  network of peer mentoring providers for the purpose of mentoring other providers to develop and expand peer mentoring programs as a VR service.  The PMW CoP seeks to:

  1. Identify emerging best practices
  2. Capture and share early success stories
  3. Build a library of resources and technical assistance materials
  4. Explore the development of new tools and practices that will improve its efficacy and provision of inclusive peer mentoring.   

Join the Community of Practice

Peer MentoringWorks ToolSuite

The PMW CoP ToolSuite is a suite of training and certification tools modelled in the WINTAC Peer Mentoring pilot projects that is available to SVRAs and their network of community partners seeking to add peer mentoring as a support to the provision of transition services.  

Learn more about our ToolSuite

Testimonial: Independence Works

A Community Rehabilitation Provider in South Florida presents its peer mentoring program to the community in this video produced by Independence Works doing business as Work Opportunities Unlimited.

Interested in Learning More?

Are you with a State VR agency or an SVRA that is interested in developing peer mentoring programs as part of your strategy to serve students with disabilities to support Pre-ETS required activities?

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