Supported Employment services are offered by HCBS Provider throughout the southeastern region counties of Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery as well as Berks and Lancaster counties in the central region. The services that HCBS Provider feels they can safely serve do not extend or allow them to support individuals who have a need for interventive medical support. Referrals will be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine if supports can safely and adequately be provided.
HCBS Provider offers Supported Employment Professionals who are Certified Employment Support Professionals (CESP) through the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (ASPE) or have completed the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE)-endorsed Supported Employment Certificate.
In March of 2016, Governor Wolf signed Executive Order 2016-03 making Pennsylvania an Employment First State. As a result, there have been many changes made to align the support and skillsets of professional to meet these expectations. Under this executive order, competitive, integrated employment becomes the first consideration and preferred outcome for any publicly funded support. The first piece of understanding this is providing information on a few terms you may routinely hear and why everyone is talking about working instead of sheltered workshops. Even those historically traditional services have taken on new requirements. Primarily, people who are participating in pre-vocational programs that you now hear being called Community Participation Services MUST have a goal that is intended to move them towards community employment. You will hear chatter about opportunities for them to be out experiencing their communities to explore employment options and to learn those soft skills that are helpful to transition into employment.
Why does everyone keep saying that workshops are not employment, they are being paid. Well yes and no. Workshops do not meet the definition of Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) defined in Governor Wolf’s executive order. Competitive Integrated Employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities who perform work in typical workplaces that any of us could seek employment. The wage earned by the person with a disability must be at least minimum wage and consistent with those earned by other workers in the community who do not have disabilities and perform the same or similar work. Employees with disabilities must have the same opportunities as those without disabilities in the same position to interact with other employees, customers and vendors.
In Pennsylvania, all people with disabilities who are seeking employment and the opportunity to become independent can apply for competitive integrated employment supports with the help of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Accessing these supports is a requirement prior to moving onto other publicly funded support such as those available through the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL). All individuals through age 26 looking to work and possibly needing to access any type of vocational supports (Pre-Vocational Workshops through Community Participation Support, or any level of Supported Employment) must first make an application to receive supports through OVR. If deemed eligible for OVR supports, they must be used first before accessing the supports available through ODP and OLTL. Many individuals who are wanting to work may not be successful without initial and/or longer-term support. Fortunately, Supported Employment that starts with OVR may continue onto service offered by community providers such as HCBS Provider when needed.
Supported Employment is a very comprehensive service that that consist of three components: career assessment, job finding or development, and job coaching and support. While all three components are available, they are not always needed. For example, a person with an established career assessment, may not need to have this done again, or a person who has a job that they like but due to changing tasks, now needs some support, may only need job support. The average person does not have to think so deeply about what they need to do to get a job. We have either gained continuing education specific to a job we are interested in, we look for employers that might be hiring for jobs that we think we have the skills to do well with and we apply. The is not the same experience that a person with disability experiences when they need support. They may not have ever had the opportunity to explore careers or to have their skills and interest matched up to available careers. This is why there are so many options available because quite frankly, who wants to just work at any old job? We all do our best when we feel that we have something to offer and can do it well. That is what this is about. Everyone won’t be good at or interested in the jobs that have historically come to mind for people with disabilities. So below is a not so brief list of what the three components of this support entail:
- CAREER ASSESSMENT –Career assessment is a person-centered, individualized employment assessment used to assist in the identification of potential career options, including self-employment, based upon the interests and strengths of the participant. Career assessment may include discovery activities and may be provided within a variety of settings including residential habilitation settings when identified as a need in the service plan or vocational facilities and adult training facilities when these facilities are where the person’s employment or volunteer experience occurred that is being assessed and when identified as a need in the service plan. Career assessment activities, on average, should be authorized no longer than six consecutive months and should result in the development of a career assessment report. When a participant requires career assessment activities in excess of six consecutive months, an explanation of why the activities are needed for an extended period should be included in the service plan.
Career Assessment includes:
- Gathering and conducting a review of the participant’s interests, skills, and work or volunteer history.
- Conducting situational assessments to assess the participant’s interest and aptitude in particular jobs.
- Conducting informational interviews.
- Identifying types of jobs in the community that match the participant’s interests, strengths, and skills.
- Developing a career assessment report that specifies recommendations regarding the participant’s needs, interests, strengths, and characteristics of potential work environments. The career assessment report must also specify training or skills development necessary to achieve the participant’s career goals.
2. JOB FINDING OR DEVELOPMENT – Job Finding or Development by now should be self-defined. It is the actual support needed to help an individual find that perfect job and may include:
- Employer outreach and orientation
- Job searching and job development
- Resume preparation and interview assistance
- Participation in individual planning for employment
- Development of job-seeking skills
- Development of job skills specific to a job being sought
- Consulting with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), benefits counseling agencies, or Ticket to Work employment networks on behalf of a participant, or self-employment assistance.
Job finding or development may also extend to include customized job development. Customized job development means individualizing the employment relationship between employees and employers in a way that matches the needs of the employer with the assessed strengths, skills, needs, and interests of the participant, either through task reassignment, job carving, or job sharing. Job finding or development may also include negotiating the conditions for successful employment with a prospective employer including tasks, wages, hours and support.
- JOB COACHING AND SUPPORT
Job coaching and support consists of training the participant on job assignments, periodic follow-up, or ongoing support with participants and their employers. This may include systematic instruction.
The service must be necessary for participants to maintain acceptable job performance and work habits, including assistance in learning new work assignments, maintaining job skills, and achieving performance expectations of the employer.
Other examples of activities include:
- Direct intervention with an employer, employment-related personal skills instruction, support to re-learn job tasks, training to assist participants in using transportation to and from work, worksite orientation.
- Job aide development, coordination of accommodations, ensuring assistive technology is utilized as specified in the plan.
- Maintenance of appropriate work and interpersonal behaviors on the job.
- Technical assistance and instruction for the participant’s coworkers that will enable peer support.
As part of a participant’s ongoing use of job coaching and support, it is expected that the provider will develop a fading plan or fading schedule that will address how use of this service will decrease as the participant’s productivity and independence on the job increases and as he or she develops unpaid supports through coworkers and other on-the-job resources. Ongoing use of job coaching and support is limited to providing supports for participants not otherwise available through the employer such as support offered through regular supervisory channels, reasonable accommodation required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, available and appropriate natural supports, or on-the-job resources available
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