Located at the Berks Career and Technology Center (BCTC), East Campus, the Preparation for Adult Life (PAL) program offers secondary students with special needs a school-based vocational training education. PAL provides job training, community experiences, and the means to achieve independent living for young adults with mental and physical disabilities. Students who may have reached their academic potential but are not ready to leave school or who may require support in an employment setting may be eligible for the program.
Community-based vocational training and community-based instruction are key features of the program. The dedicated staff includes a teacher, a teacher assistant, and job coaches. Other services for life skills/learning support students include: part-time speech and language assistance, psychological services, and transition supports.
Students receive an assessment of their vocational interests and skills and then have the opportunity to work within the BCTC itself or within work projects provided by volunteer organizations and other local businesses. To encourage the development of the skills and appropriate attitudes necessary for success in the workplace, students also work at job sites within the community. Students rotate among the sites to conform to their needs as well as labor and industry standards regarding career exploration, life skills assessment, and training.
Students receive work experience in various local settings. In addition, the program teaches students: money, time management, and consumer skills; safety and self-reliance; transportation skills; community survival; and adult life skills.
The PAL program is about more than work. Students also participate in a variety of recreational pursuits and physical education activities that provide exercise and promote socialization and the constructive use of leisure time. Students also have the opportunity to go bowling, swimming, golfing, fishing, and hiking. They also visit restaurants and movie theaters. Physical education classes include softball, floor hockey, volleyball, and other sports activities. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the local Special Olympics.
School districts must make referrals for services by downloading and submitting a Request for School-Age Programs and Services Form to the BCIU.
A PAL program representative will contact the student’s teacher and begin the screening process. The screening identifies the student’s strengths and needs and guides the team, which includes the school district’s staff and administration, in determining the appropriateness of enrollment in the program.
Enrollment is very flexible and can include full- or part-time placement. This flexibility is reinforced by effective cooperation between PAL and the Service Occupations program at the Berks Career and Technology Center.