The Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) Employment Assistance Program exists to be a resource for job seekers with disabilities. The purpose of the program is to equip consumers with knowledge and skills that will facilitate their employment. Pamela McCowen, the Employment Specialist, feels that any time she is able to assist someone, who wants and needs help to get a job, is a success.
Individuals with disabilities, regardless of the type or origin of disability, who reside in Orange County and are seeking employment, are eligible to participate in the DMC Employment Services Program.
Potential consumers are referred to the Employment Services Program by a variety of sources such as case managers, community-based organizations, educators, by word-of-mouth, and through self-referral. Most frequently, individuals are referred to the Employment Assistance Program by the State Department of Rehabilitation, which provides an authorization for services.
Service Procedure for the Employment Assistance Program
The Employment Specialist completes an intake form with each individual, which includes demographic information such as name, address, telephone number, date of birth, disability, etc. In an initial interview with the applicant, needed services, priorities, and levels of functioning are defined. The results of the interview help to determine the direction services will take. An explanation of the purpose and content of an individualized Independent Living Plan (ILP) is provided at this point in the intake process. The Employment Specialist and the consumer work together, to develop the plan. The plan includes: goals, activities, targeted dates of completion, and outcomes.
Usually, consumers in the Vocational Services program receive 2 training/job search sessions per month and each session lasts from one to one and a half hours.
Employment Assistance Program
Most consumers participate in job preparation services, which include:
- Resume and cover letter development
- Interviewing techniques
- Personal hygiene and proper business attire
- Introduction to assistive technology
- Use of available modes of transportation
- Self-advocacy as it relates to the work environment
Job referrals are provided to consumers based on level of education, work experience, and employment preferences. Job referrals include the names of companies, addresses, and names and phone numbers of contacts. If appropriate, either driving directions or public transportation information is provided from the homes of consumers to business locations. Numerous job referrals may be provided to consumers before employment is obtained.
When consumers are offered, and accept, jobs as a result of referrals provided through DMC, job placements occur. The Employment Specialist discusses possible reasonable accommodations with employers and consumers so that any barriers to job performance can be eliminated. Occasionally, a job coach may be arranged to accompany new employees until they learn their duties and become familiar with the work place. The Employment Specialist maintains regular contact with consumers for 90 days following job placement to ensure that any problem issues are addressed in a timely manner.
Employment services are provided for consumers until stated goals are reached. If a consumer fails to engage in services over a specified period of time, a letter attempting to reach the person is mailed. The case file is closed if no action has occurred for 60 days. Occasionally, a consumer voluntarily withdraws from the program and his or her service record is closed. Following case closure, consumers have the opportunity to complete a satisfaction survey to express their opinions of the effectiveness of the program.
Program Success Story
A man in his early fifties lost his job of 15 years, when the company where he worked down-sized. He became so depressed that even getting out of bed was difficult. When the man was referred to the DMC Employment Assistance Program, he had no hope. The Employment Specialist began by giving the consumer small tasks to complete such as inquiring at a company he walked by every day just to practice asking about job openings. Before long, his energy increased and his attitude was more positive. He went on interviews and, although many would tell him “no”, eventually the consumer heard “YES!” The man’s new job was not like any job he had held in the past, but he loved it! His new employer told him how much he had come to count on him and that he had brought a new perspective to the position. This consumer is truly a success story.