Creating Supported Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
What is Supported Employment?
Columbus Community Center’s Supported Employment Program assists people with disabilities to find meaningful employment in local communities. Participants are integrated into community employment settings with nondisabled workers as part of the process of discovering their gifts and talents. Employment specialists seek to match each client with employment that best matches their interests, skills and abilities.
How We Can Assist?
Staff will assist the individual in the transition their new competitive, integrated employment position. This will include supports for onboarding, training, development of natural supports on the job site, and putting needed accommodations in place.
Individuals will work with a certified Job Coach to learn to perform job tasks to the employer’s specifications, and to learn the interpersonal skills necessary to be successful on the job. They will be supported in cultivating natural supports on their job site, and learn appropriate professional boundaries. The Job Coach will support the individual until they reach successful employment status.
A Work Strategy Assessment will be conducted by an ACRE-certified specialist in an integrated setting. Staff will conduct the assessment in a setting with the individual’s needs, and informed choices in mind. The assessments will include reports of the individual’s strengths, needed supports, accommodations that may need to be put in place, as well as job goals. Staff also use information learned about the individual seeking employment to establish a Customized Employment discovery process.
Building a strong resume’ that will showcase the individual’s strengths, as well as neighborhood mapping, filling out applications, mock interviews, working with employers to set up nontraditional interviews, supporting the individual in interviews, and follow up to applications submitted to employers.
Cierra Smith has demonstrated exceptional work skills and a positive impact in her workplace. Her commitment to her job at WinCo Foods is valued not only by her employer but by her staff as well. Her exemplary work ethic and positive attitude have made her stand out in the WinCo WInS program. Cierra’s supervisors and co-workers value her daily contributions to the success of their department, and see her making tremendous growth within the company.
Eder is a participant in the Supported Employment program. He is a young man who told us from the very beginning that not only did he want a job, but he wanted to make noise and make a difference. Eder has numerous challenges that he faces. He has no use of his hands or feet, and he is nonverbal. Eder communicates through his talk box, which he navigates with his eyes. Eder was on the Developmental Disabilities Council for three years. In that position, he was able to advocate for others who have varying disabilities. His Columbus Employment Specialist worked diligently to find Eder a job to use his experience and knowledge to advocate for change for those with disabilities. She attended numerous Legislature meetings with Eder to introduce him to people who may need his expertise. In November, Eder was asked to apply for a Peer Support Specialist position with the Department of Human Services. He went through a series of interviews and was offered the job. Eder is working 10 hours per week to assist the DHS in numerous advocacy and policy change tasks. He stated to Columbus staff that all he needed was someone to take a chance on him, and he would do the rest! That has proven to be true.
– Perry Van Schelt
Funding for individuals in the Supported Employment program include Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD). Utah State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), and private/self-pay.