As many local companies continue to struggle with developing consistently strong workforces, many organizations and agencies are working to place individuals with both intellectual and developmental disabilities in jobs where they can make the most impact. At the same time hoping to break down barriers and change perceptions about these individuals.
For the majority of us, it can be an arduous process finding something that interests us enough to pursue a job let alone a career. And no one really guides us along through the process, yet for the most part, we are able to maneuver through the journey of learning what we are good at and finding work.
So how do people with disabilities find work in the community or learn how to navigate through life? Where do they learn what they are interested in and learn the skills necessary for gainful employment?
Within Our Community…
Community Transition Program
Youth Transition Program
This program is designed to help students overcome barriers to employment and learn to compete in the world of work. It is unique because it combines the education services of School Districts with the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services and community employers.
Each student is assessed and then helps to develop their own Individual Plan of Employment. Students participate in career exploration activities and may also work on campus in the student-run YTP Bakery or gardens to develop the transferable skills necessary before they start working in the community.
is a comprehensive transition program for youth with disabilities operated collaboratively by Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the University of Oregon (U of O), and local school districts statewide in Oregon.
The purpose of the program is to prepare youth with disabilities for employment or career-related post-secondary education or training.
YTP was initially developed in seven high schools in 1990 under the auspices of a federal grant. The program currently operates in approximately 120 high schools in Oregon and is funded through a combination of state and local funds from participating education and rehabilitation agencies. VR contracts with a team from the U of O to provide training and technical assistance to school and rehabilitation personnel statewide.
All current contracts with local school districts are “performance based”. This means that funded YTP sites have to meet certain performance benchmarks targeted at entering the VR system, development of an individual plan for employment (IPE), and being “engaged” (i.e. in employment or training or some combination of employment and training) upon exiting the YTP pattern of service. Meeting these benchmarks influences future funding decisions for any particular site. Funding is available on a biennial (i.e. every 2 years) basis and funding decisions are influenced by how YTP sites perform towards meeting their benchmarks. For more specifics about benchmarks, documents are attached below that will help you understand performance benchmarks more clearly.
The pattern of Services:
The YTP provides services to youth beginning during the last two years of high school and continuing into the early transition years after leaving high school. All students in the program receive a comprehensive pattern of service designed to address a broad array of transition need. These services, which are similar to the CTP program include:
- Individualized planning, focused on post-school goals and self-determination, and help to coordinate school plans with relevant community agencies
- Instruction in academic, vocational, independent living, and personal social skills and help to stay in and complete high school
- Career development services including goal setting, career exploration, job search skills, and self-advocacy
- Emphasis on paid employment such as connections with local employers, development of school-based businesses, on the job assessment and training
- Support services such as individualized mentoring and support or referrals for additional specific interventions
- Follow-up supports for one year after leaving the program to assist in maintaining positive outcomes in employment or postsecondary settings.
NOTE: All YTP students become clients of OVRS, but a young adult with a disability that is an impediment to employment does not have to be served by YTP in order to become a client of OVRS.
Project SEARCH is an immersion model and it encourages participants to interact with peers to get the full work experience, including eating lunch and taking part in any other employee activities.
This program is working to break the barriers around young people with disabilities entering the workforce and providing them with internship opportunities that are resulting in full and part-time employment.
The Erskine-Green Training Institute
This program located in Indiana is designed for individuals whose academic, social, communication and adaptive skills are affected due to a disability. Most applicants would have received special education services in the K-12 setting and exited their secondary school with a diploma, GED or certificate of completion. EGTI is a certificate program (not an accredited college degree program). Participants may also earn additional industry recognized certifications depending upon the program selected. Our Curriculum at the beginning of each training session, students receive instruction on topics within health and wellness as well as other life skills such as using public transportation. All training sessions are broken down into sequential units that are individually taught during classroom and lab time. Once students have shown proficiency in a unit, job; shadowing and hands-on opportunities are scheduled for those skills. Skills build upon one another until students have mastered the entire job. At this point, internships begin. They train and intern in either the hotel, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., or IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital while completing their program. Internship hours and work readiness skills are the focus during the last month of each training session. Classroom time is scheduled around internship hours. Work readiness topics include a variety of job search, acquisition, and retention skills, and interpersonal and personal quality skills necessary for employment. No more than 20 students are accepted in any session. Current Programs Ranging in length between nine and 13 weeks, students have a choice of vocational training including; Front Desk Agent and Heart of House in a hotel, Patient Transporter, Environmental Services and Dietary Services in a hospital, or Prep Cook, Dishwasher, Server Assistant and Host in a restaurant. More programming is in development for the future.
The hotel is operated for profit. Profits are used to support EGTI and other initiatives of The Arc of Indiana. Approximately 20% or greater of the jobs within the hotel and its restaurants are held by individuals with disabilities. EGTI and the hotel are next to the Horizon Convention Center.
This project clearly provides a resource for Indiana businesses to successfully hire and maintain employees with disabilities.
These are some of the options young people with a disability can utilize to bridge that gap from high school to the working world. Entering post-secondary education is another route this population can also participate in and some do.
Ultimately, the more experiences young people with disabilities have the more confidence they gain and the better their chances of landing a good job that fits their abilities and skill-set become.