Building a Life

A transition guide for Kansans

Things to Consider

Employment 1st Initiative

Kansas is one of several states with an Employment 1st Initiative, a philosophy and state law that jobs should be the first option for people with disabilities once done with formal schooling. Kansas House Bill 2336 states that competitive employment in integrated settings should be the first choice and that state agencies should make that their goal. And for good reason. Holding down a job means the jobholder is an active member of the community, performing valued work, earning a salary and paying taxes that help maintain their town or county. It’s a “win/win” for everyone. Work is such a big part of the human experience that it’s important for all to hold a job, no matter how big or small. People learn so much from working, that it would be shame to miss out on that experience and on the relationships that form at work. It is not easy to become independent when you have chronic health problems or developmental disabilities, but it’s critically important to work. Check out the Kansas Employment 1st website.

Job Development & Coaching

Employment specialists across the state essentially act as marketers for their clients with disabilities seeking jobs. They spend time with the clients, getting to know their strengths and interests. They then hit the pavement, talking with employers in the community, looking for a good match for clients – but for employers as well.This requires time, but you can help with this by sharing your insights about your child as well as businesses you shop at or where you know someone. The more employers the specialist has to work with, the more choice your young adult will have for work. Be sure to enlist other family and friends in this effort too. Once the match is made, your young adult may have a job coach if one is needed to help them learn the job. Ideally, the job coach will fade away after getting the employee trained while still checking in at regular intervals to see how the young adult is doing.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides a wide variety of help for people heading into the workforce or small business ownership including transition services for high school students.Have your youth/young adult sign up during the last semester of high school to begin the career and work planning process.In general, Vocational Rehabilitation can help with assessment/vocational evaluations; job seeking skills; assistive technology devices/services; job coaching and other services to make employment possible.

VR will contract these services to its partners across the state. Community Rehabilitation Programs provide the hands-on services to clients.

In addition, some Centers for Independent Living that promote self reliance through education, advocacy, training and support, also offer employment help as part of their mandate. You’ll need to check their website to see which one is in your area.

Tools and Resources

Ticket to Work Helpline 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TDD/TTY), M-F 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Ticket to Work website: Choose Work

Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Services  (888) 369-4777 (Voice) (800) 766-3777 (TTY)

Working Healthy vs. Ticket to Work

The Working Healthy program offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working, the opportunity to get or keep Medicaid coverage. Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPAO) Specialists across Kansas are available to help review benefits and the impact of returning to work and answer questions. The seven regions, the city, contact phone number and counties in each region are listed under the “Benefits Specialists” tab on the Working Healthy web site,

Many people with disabilities want to work but worry that doing so could jeopardize their vital health and long-term care coverage. Working Healthy offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working with the opportunity to get or keep Medicaid coverage while on the job. Through Working Healthy, people can earn more, save more, achieve their career goals and still maintain their health coverage. 

  • Working Healthy is a Medicaid program. To qualify for this program, a person must:
  • Have a disability determined by Social Security
  • Be no younger than 16 and no older than 64
  • Be employed
  • Have total income of less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Not be receiving Home and Community Based Services
  • Not be living in a nursing facility
  • Have resources that are less than $15,000.

The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program can help those receiving benefits go to work, get a good job that may lead to a career, save more money and become financially independent, all while they keep their health coverage. There are two ways to use this program. The first is to have your youth/young adult sign up for services with an Employment Network (EN) under contract with Social Security. The EN will develop a plan that is just for your family member that defines employment goals and specialized services to help meet their goals. All ENs provide career counseling, job placement and ongoing support services. Some provide additional services so think about what your young adult needs as you search for a provider that can best serve their needs. You can select an EN from the list on Social Security’s Choose Work web site.