Thank you for the opportunity to attend the 2006 Issues Forum through Region
7 CRP-RCEP. It was three days of good keynote speakers, sessions, food and lodging.
The primary goal for the forum was to enhance networking in our community specifically
for building a well-rounded social, living and employment life for individuals
with disabilities so they can enjoy the same opportunities as persons without
The opening keynote was a kick off to create the well rounded individual who does not center all activities on getting and keeping a job but includes this into their full world as a significant part of their contribution to their community and for self purpose. In addition it is very important that the individual develop the social capital that will support their immediate needs for acceptance, friendship, networking, etc so that they are fulfilled in all areas that are important to them.
A very good session that really spoke to our immediate financial concerns was a session called “What do Outcomes Cost? The keys to cost containment: 1. What is your organization in business for? 2. What are the major factors that affect pricing of services? and 3. What do you want from an effective cost management system? The need to control costs is critical and so is the need to provide necessary services so it is important that the client is satisfied with services. It is important to identify which outcomes are important. There are different drivers for customers served, i.e. dependability for employer, stability for the client and placements for the counselor and it is important to identify the advantages for customer groups. Websites – http://www.pitt.edu/~roztocki/abc/abc.htm, http://www.balancedscorecard.org/basics/definitions.html, http://www.balancedscorecard.org, and www.randommomentsampling.com
Another session called “Benefits of Benefit Planning” confirmed the use of Benefits Planners to assist the counselor and client with future planning for employment/education/and related expenses. Additional sessions included a session for Networks for Services and Sound Business: Supports the Business Network or Services Management Network. It was pointed out that an advantage for businesses is to come together to share risks; and that networks support an ongoing self-evaluation and continuous systems improvement for service delivery that will support the employer as well as the potential employee.
Self-Discovery, Self-Determination, Self-Advocacy: It’s all about discovery. This session was awesome! The session concentrated on the fact that discovery is a process. This occurs at all ages. We often associate these areas with school aged clients because it is a big part of helping a student move from a setting that is supportive and almost does everything for the student/parent to settings that require them to jump into advocating for themselves. However, this is a process for all ages and helps the person realize they are in control of choices that will help make their lives satisfying and meaningful.
Another good session was on Risk Management. This involves Individual risk management planning to consider client choice as well as competency and capacity to make choices as well as professional/clinical assessments done by individuals working directly with the client to determine best services and decisions.
Job Development and Support Strategies for People with Psychiatric Disabilities. This session was associated with my Master’s program which was Psycho-social Rehabilitation. As we have experienced, persons with psychiatric disabilities are less likely to retain employment and also less likely to leave the Social Security rolls and remain in competitive employment. The session recommended networking with all professionals involved with the person from family, mental health, friends, advocates, natural supports, etc. to supporting the person in all aspects of their life to enhance healthy living (use of medication) so if their illness is of a cyclical nature, the client can still benefit from employment, living and social settings.
Re-Thinking Your Work: Successful Supports for People Labeled with Behavioral Challenges. This as was the session above the essence of the entire forum as it was dedicated to bringing the team working with the client (including the client) the social support which will allow for the best chances for success in life. Choice is very important for the client as well as the professionals input, knowledge, experience and network surrounding the individual.
I appreciated the opportunity to gather with others from around the region who are addressing these same issues to hear their challenges as well learn of their resources.
William applied for VR services at the recommendation of his Veteran’s Administration, VR Counselor, Paul Beadle. Paul had been working with William and felt that a cooperative plan to assist William with self employment along with his employment with a local construction company would best serve William’s needs. William’s first request of Voc Rehab was some financial backing in the purchase of tools, equipment, and uniforms that he might use in the junking/welding business and as a construction cement laborer for LeRoy Morford a local contractor.
William’s disabilities are numerous but most significant is the chronic mental illness. He frequents doctor’s offices and appointments both at the VA in Des Moines, Iowa City and has had trips to Rochester as well. Given these numerous appointments, William is fortunate to work with an employer like Mr. Morford where he understands and accepts these frequent absences.
Through the course of William’s file being opened with us, VR has supplied
funding for coveralls and work boots. The VA VR assisted with the purchase or
various tools to be used in the metal cutting and construction trade. Counselor
along with the VA VR counselor was able to visit with Mr. Morford regarding
client’s work performance and needs on the job. Following that conversation
equipment and supplies were provided to him. Client receives a pension and disability
payment through the VA. He works an average of 50 hours per week at $11.00 per
hour for the construction company. His own business of metal scrapping etc varies,
with income dependent on the job bids.
Client, at the time of closure, indicated that he felt the services provided by VR along with the VA VR program were great. He willingly signed a Statement of Understanding but has some reservations about pictures. I am happy to supply additional information if needed.
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to get a job! It
isn’t easy getting a job these days. You need technical skills and a resume
that grabs attention to get an interview. It’s important to network to
get an “in”. How does one do all of this? If one has a disability,
or no work experience, no skills, no confidence, it can be overwhelming.
There are resources and people to help. Vocational Rehabilitation helps individuals with physical or mental disabilities in job placement. We help assess their interests and abilities for work in relation to their disability or need for special accommodations. For young people that haven’t developed work skills, we often assist in vocational training or college programs to get them job ready. We aren’t the only counselors out there. Your high school guidance counselor, your college counselor, your workforce counselor all assist in career planning and job placement. Often, we work together and that is important.
Jude’s story provides such an example. After graduation from high school, his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor helped him enroll in the Computer Analyst program at NICC. He wanted to be a computer programmer. Learning was easy for Jude but social relationships weren’t as easy. He was a good student and worked hard. His teachers knew that and he became more comfortable with them and his fellow students. He graduated and started his job search. His VR Counselor and Chris, in NICC’s Employment and Career Services Office worked with Jude to develop a resume and practice interviewing skills. Job leads were provided through the internet IWD and TH websites. He prepared for the upcoming Job Fair. The day arrived and Jude was ready. He was nicely dressed and groomed. He had neatly printed copies of his resume. He knew to introduce himself and shake hands. He went around the room and met several employers. Some were interested. Some were not. It wasn’t easy talking to strangers. He was nervous but he left an impression. A few months later, Chris inquired about an internship for Jude. He knew that if an employer had an opportunity to see his skills and work ethic, it would help him get a job. He talked with Colleen at Dubuque Data Services. Here is her story.
“In the course of our business, it is necessary for us to develop forms & reports used in the sales offices of auto dealerships. It is very precise work, requiring considerable attention to detail, as well as knowledge of programming and databases.
As the demand from our customers has increased lately, we were contemplating the addition of a full-time programmer to do this work. I met with Jude at the Dubuque Job Fair last fall, and after that Chris Entringer from NICC had kept in touch with me to see if we would have any internship opportunities that might be well-matched to Jude’s talents.
When I received a follow-up call from Chris last spring, I immediately realized that this new reports programming position might prove to be the perfect opportunity for Jude. Through NICC, we arranged for a 30 day internship to ascertain if this would be a well-suited fit.
When he started, Jude was partnered with another reports developer, Saiko Jin, who is a Visa student from Japan. Her role was to serve as Jude’s mentor, and train him on our software and related processes. Jude caught on very quickly, and after 30 days, we extended an offer to him for full-time employment. Jude is a valued member of our development team, and his work plays an important role in the continued enhancement and deployment of our software.
We feel this has been a very successful business relationship for both DDS and Jude. We would encourage other employers to investigate creative ways to fulfill unique needs they may have in their businesses by working with the local colleges and community resources. It’s proved to be a winning combination for DDS!”
Dubuque Data Services