Organizational investment in job development: Making the business connection

– [Kelly] So good morning everyone. My
name is Kelly Nye-Lengerman, and I work here at the University of Minnesota, and I
am pleased to have you join us today for the next webinar series called
Organizational Investment in Job Development: Making the Business
Connection. We have two wonderful guests speakers here today who will be joining us
and talking about their experiences. And I’ll introduce them here in just a moment.
Unfortunately, my colleague, Jeffrey Nurick, was not able to join us this
morning. And usually Jeffrey has done an excellent job in introducing the topic and
framing why this webinar series was developed. But to give folks a bit of
context and background, the Make Work Part of Your Plan video and webinar series was
a partnership between the research and training center at the institute on
community integration, and our partners at the Minnesota Department of Human
Services, Disability Service division. And the purpose of this series was to create
spaces to have conversations and share information about promoting competitive,
integrated employment for people with disabilities. And each of the sessions
that we’ve had, this will be the seventh, yes the seventh, in a series of 10. Just
talking about different perspectives, different experiences from some folks here
from Minnesota, as well as some of our guests from other parts of the country.
And so, I’m excited that we have two special guests with us today. Just to
remind everyone what the objectives are for today, we’re going to be talking about
alternative business models focused on community employment. Jeannine and Aimee
are going to be highlighting practices that lead to competitive integrated
employment, and have direct connections with community businesses. They’re going
to speak to some of their experiences about making that business connection and
supporting direct hires, and that they’re going to be spending some time talking
about developing their workforce of employment consultants, so job developers
and employment consultants have the best skills in working with job seekers. And
they’ll spend a little bit of time talking about and understanding the importance of
creative thinking and leveraging individuals and families to support the
job development process. So these are two speakers today. Aimee is going to be
speaking first. So Aimee Nelson has been working with people with disabilities
throughout her career, specifically focused on support employment since 1998.
Aimee specializes in school to work programs, ensuring that students with
developmental disabilities graduate job ready and employed. Aimee is a systematic
instruction trainer for the employment organizations for the Washington State
Certified Employment Professional Program, and the Oregon Employment Learning
Network, or OELM. Aimee has a degree in Psychology and Criminology, and a minor in
Human and Family development. And so Aimee is joining us from the state of
Washington. And then my other colleague is Jeannine Pavlak who is the executive
director of New England Business Associates, a community provider committed
to assisting individuals with disabilities to maintain competitive, integrated and
self-employment. Miss Pavlak has worked in the disability employment field for over
27 years and has assisted hundreds of individuals with disabilities become
successfully employed. She has been awarded the Massachusetts Leadership Award
for her professional achievement, vision, and direction. Through her leadership,
Jeannine has grown and diversified the organization which now serves more than
400 individuals annually in the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has led
the organization to be recognized as one of the highest performing providers.
Jeannine has a Master’s Degree in Non-profit Management, and currently
serves as the secretary for the Board of National APSE. In addition to her
professional role, she is the parent to children, one of which has a significant
disability. And so welcome Aimee and Jeannine. I’m going to have to adjust my
speakers just for one moment before Aimee gets started here. So I need to stop
sharing to make sure I open up Aimee’s line, so I apologize. So Aimee, you are
unmuted and you can go ahead and begin. And when you’re ready for me to click next
slide, please just say next slide. – [Aimee] Hey, thank you. Good morning
everybody. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to share information with
you guys today. As Kelly was saying, I work for a company called Trillium
Employment Services. We’re located in Auburn, Washington, sitting at the base of
beautiful Mount Rainier. We’re a local non-profit community employment agency,
and we’ve been in business since 1983. We’re pioneers in individual and community
employment. Our founders, Leva Linta (sp) and Larry Rhoades, were among the first in
the nation to establish a business relationship with a large manufacturing
company called Physio Control. We had a grant with the University of Oregon to
help prove to the nation that people with intellectual developmental disabilities
could to complex manufacturing tasks. We still have a relationship with that
business today. We also have an opportunity to be advocates for our
participants and job seekers and our business community. We also provide
community outreach and education around disability issues. Kelly, you can do next
slide. So what do we do? Well, we help businesses recruit, train, and retain
employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As you can
see, it’s a nice flow chart. You can see on the left side that these are some of
our business partners. And on the right side, it’s people that we support that get
the work that they love to do. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. At the
end of the day, it does make really good business sense. There are statistics out
there that show that there’s increased customer loyalty. Customers will return to
a business when they see that the business is an inclusive employer. Oh, Kelly I
think you fast forwarded. – I did, Aimee, I’m sorry. A couple folks
are saying that they have some gray boxes on their screen, and so I’m going to just
try to clean those up really quick for folks. So I apologize. Trying to figure
out why they might have the gray screens in the background there. – I actually was seeing that too. – So, let’s. [inaudible 00:07:04]. – So I’m still seeing those boxes on
there. I’m assuming that other folks are also seeing those boxes. – Yeah, I’m still seeing it too. – All right, well I apologize, everyone.
Give me just a second to pull out a couple of things here and see if I can make
it…work. – And you are still seeing those boxes,
aren’t you Aimee? – Yes. – Hang on. So Aimee, what I’m going to do,
and again, I apologize to our audience members. I am going to pass the
presentation over to you, and that means that will have the ability to move the
slides. And we’re going to try that and see if that helps clean up the… So do
you have a copy of the slides in front of you there, Aimee? – Not yet. – Okay. Let me see here. And again, I
apologize, everyone for the slide issue here. Let’s try it this way and see if
that works. Nope – Now did that help at all, Aimee? – Yes, they’re off the slides. – Okay, so let’s try slideshow. – There’s just a slight gray box to the
right of the slide, but it’s not inhibiting the content. – Okay, let’s go ahead and try to keep
going. And again, I apologize to the audience members, and Aimee, I’m very
sorry to interrupt your flow. So you’re talking about what Trillium does and I
wasn’t sure if you were on the community based model here yet. – Let’s back up just one slide. One more.
So yeah. The what we do slide. – That’s interesting, now it’s not letting
me back up my slides. All right, so let’s go. Okay, so we want to be on the What We
Do slide here. And… – Perfect. – Okay, let’s try again here. – Okay, so hopefully you guys all caught
my script talking. But just to reiterate, so businesses benefit from a dedicated and
hardworking employee. You’re going to see some of our happy employers on the left
side of the screen, and some of our great candidates and job seekers that landed
jobs, and getting the work that they love to do. So really, it is a win-win
situation. And it does make good business sense. It increases customer loyalty.
There’s a lot of statistics out there that say that customers will return to an
employer or a store when they know that it’s an inclusive employer. In addition,
when employers are struggling with understanding how this will benefit them,
some of the things that we talk to them about and we give them a…we actually
give them a spreadsheet and we ask them to run their costs of last month. And so
questions will be things like, skilled labor hours spent on entry level duties,
bottlenecks in labor, screening candidates, [inaudible] companies,
overtime due to understaffing, and then total cost of labor and inefficiencies.
And the new employee wages, and then Trillium’s services are free. And what’s
the bottom line savings? And usually, it’s a pretty great amount of savings. So
that’s something that if you guys are interested in looking more at, I can share
that with you at another date. Thank you for advancing, Kelly. So our business
model is a community based business model. It’s the only model that we’ve had since
we’ve been established in 1983. You’ll see at the top we have job candidate
evaluation, employer orientation, and long term on-site job support. So going down
this graph here, the pre-screen is really for employers. That frees them up from
having to do all of the calling, and looking at resumes, and things like that.
So we’re screening out, we’re giving them the most ideal candidate possible. And in
doing that, the first step to that is us really doing assessments in the community
to help gather information about what great skills and what’s unique about our
job candidates. So we gather all of that information and that helps us really
create that great job match and finding that person a job that they love and that
they’re excited about getting out of bed for, and going to work. We’ll also help
with that workforce orientation, and what we really want to see happen is that
they’re going to a typical company on-boarding versus something that would be
separate from that. So everything, this business is hiring as if they would be
hiring anybody else. The employer orientation, there’s a lot of upfront
things that happen before we get to talk to the employer. We do things that are
research based. So we do a lot of pre-call planning, which is researching who the
decision makers are, figuring out what it is about this business, how are they
community members, all the things that are unique to them. So when we get in to have
a meeting with that business and that decision maker, that we’re able to talk
their verbiage and their language, versus talking a social service language, because
that usually doesn’t fly super well with an employer. We’ll ask to have a brief
tour of the business initially so that we can take a look at what’s going on and
start to gather information around task identification, and what the culture of
the company feels like. That would be the first piece of doing that. Once we have
gone through those steps, we’ll ask to come back and we’ll ask to spend more time
in the business doing what we call a job site analysis, or task analysis, or
environmental analysis. They’re different, but they’re the same thing, again,
gathering information about how to do the job, what’s involved, what are the job
responsibilities, who are the key players, who are going to be the key co-workers.
We’re looking at anything from how cold it is in a business to the lights flickering.
That’s the environmental piece. So it’s really making sure that you have enough
information that you’re putting your candidate into a successful situation
versus the opposite of that. Employer training, a lot of the time an employer,
it might be the person that they’re hiring with an intellectual developmental
disability, it might be the first time that they’re, that they’ve done this, and
they may be terrified. And that’s a pretty normal feeling. So we’ll come in and we’ll
help get them up to speed, talk about what best practices are in bringing a new
employee on board. Perhaps we need to do a diversity training just to get everybody
on the same page on how, what it’s going to be like. In addition to that, we do the
initial on-site employee coaching. The big perk about having a company like Trillium
in the mix is that we are offering to free their staff up from having to do any of
the training. And that will…so we come in and we help with that initial training
and we are on-site until the person is working independently and the employer,
and meeting the business’s standards. So once that has happened, then that’s when
we start fading out a little bit. Now fading out doesn’t mean that we’re like,
“See you, goodbye. ” It just means that the person is doing so well on their job,
and the employer is so happy that they know that the person can work
independently. So once they get to that point, then we are going to provide the
long term on-site job support. And that is the commitment to the business and to our
candidate to make sure that everything is maintaining at the level that we all had
agreed on. Another thing is that we want to make sure that the customers are both
satisfied. So we’ll do customer on both sides. We’ll do business and candidate job
seeker surveys to make sure everybody is where they want to be. We also may have to
do coworker training. So maybe a new coworker comes on board and they, again,
they might be somebody that hasn’t had an experience with somebody with an
intellectual developmental disability, and so we will provide some specific training,
specific to their needs around that. And lastly, we look at the career path or the
career advancement because as you know, we all want career advancement. And so, we
want to make sure that we’re being thoughtful about looking at additional
tasks that can be added, additional hours that can be added, and in the event that
they do want a new job, that they’ve grown out of their first job, that we’re going
to be able to go back in and we’re going to provide that service to them, and help
them find a new job that’s going to be bring them joy. Kelly, next slide. So our
services. Again, this is a little bit of a reiteration here, but we help identify and
recruit job candidates for businesses. We’re going to assist with the candidate
screening and interview process, and the job matching. So we really want to
identify the ideal candidate from our applicant pool. So those are individuals
that are ready to go to work and they’re excited to do this, and they have all of
the things ready to go, be it from sustainable transportation to good support
at home. We’ll do a job analysis as I was saying before, and that helps us
anticipate people’s training needs and help us set up a design and a task that
makes sense for the business, or for the employee. Employer training and on-site
coaching, as I stated before. And again, that long term human resource support,
that we’re in the picture as long as the person has a job. And diversity coworker
training, and then assistance with the employer with career development. Kelly?
So again, this is a win-win. This increases efficiency, it frees up
employers to focus on more complex tasks. And what business doesn’t want to free up
an admin that they know has more skills that can add more value and meet the
bottom line of their company? We can help look at the job task and we’re going to
tailor it to the employee who enjoys and is challenged by that work, right? So
we’re going to help identify tasks that can be done by an entry level person,
again, to help free up that other person to go do more complex things. And then
we’re looking at employee satisfaction because we know that when people are
satisfied, that increases job retention rates and it increases customer service.
Kelly? So I queued this in there because I think it’s important to just look at what
the track record is of community based employment. And I know that this is
specific to Washington state, but just an example of the success rates that we’re
having, and that there’s a proven track record in placing job candidates. So we’ve
supported over 300 employees working from…whoa. Kelly? – Yes. – That was weird. – Can you see your slide? – Yeah, sorry, my screen just went totally
black. Sorry everybody. That was strange. So again, we’ve supported over 300
employees working for employers in these four counties. When Trillium first was
established, we worked in one county, and that was King county. And there was five
of us, which included me, and our director. And so now we’re in four
counties and we have over 60 staff, which is a lot of growth. And it can be really
scary for service providers to grow that quickly, but it has been one amazing
adventure. Eighty-nine percent of employees are in the same job one year
later, so that retention rate speaks for itself. That’s a high percentage rate for
job retention. And then again, we want to be looking at that customer satisfaction,
and so in 2015 when we did our survey, 87% of the employers reported that Trillium
always responded in a timely manner to the employee issues, and employers were
satisfied with their monthly customer service report. So again, I show that in
there, I know that’s specific to Trillium in Washington state, but I do…it’s an
example of how well community based employment can work. Next slide. So
benefits. So you get the right person, you find the right job. Again, making the
right job match is going to be the key. If we don’t gather enough information in that
first stage, that discovery and exploration piece, then we’re probably
going to miss the mark, and we’re not going to…that’s what we call placing and
praying. You place them and you’re like, “Gosh I sure hope, I’m praying that this
is going to stick.” But what we want is that to gather enough information
initially so that we do make a really great job match for the candidate and the
employer. People with developmental disabilities become tax paying citizens.
So they’re also consumers at this point. It’s what adds value to all of our
communities. And maximizes employees’ skills and contributions. It brings
flexibility to the workforce. It improves teamwork and enhances work culture. And I
have firsthand experience with this as being at Trillium for 18 years. And that
business that I was talking about, Physio Control, that business enveloped the
support of employees that worked there and it literally shifted a very static
environment to a vibrant environment. And it was partially due to their new
employees that they had. And when a lot of those employees retired, it shifted that
company culture and that workplace culture. I’m not sure if you guys utilize
the work opportunity tax credit, but it reduces the first year of taxes up to
$2,400 per eligible new hire. And again, the employee has to be eligible for the
employer to receive that tax credit. And then cost free assistance for recruitment,
training, and ongoing support. So our services are free to the employer. Kelly?
So how do you get people to be able to go out into the field and do this? Well you
have to recruit high performing staff. So Trillium has a four step interview
process. Our initial is obviously getting people’s resumes and cover letters, and
either weeding out the people that aren’t looking like a good fit on paper, but for
the folks that are, we’ll do an initial phone interview and ask them a handful of
questions around why they’re interested in a job and why they feel that they’re
qualified to be in a teaching environment, and also working with businesses,
questions to that effect. Then they’ll come in for a formal interview. And again,
just more questions, an overview of Trillium’s services. And then the third
part is where they go out and they actually will shadow one of our staff for
an entire day. Well the idea is that it’s going to be an entire day. So they’ll go
out and they’ll have a chance to see firsthand what it’s like to do the job.
And so they may be watching staff go and meeting with a business for the first
time. They’ll also go and they’ll meet with many of our job candidates and they
also will be able to go and see people working that we’ve placed. And so it gives
them an idea of what it’s going to look like, and it also gives us a snapshot, of
course, people are at their best in an interview, but it gives us a snapshot of
how they’re going to interact with businesses, and also with the folks that
we support. And so after that’s over, we come back as a group and whoever met the
person will sit in a room, and we’ll talk about all the things that were awesome
about the person, or some of the things that we’d be in a teaching moment around.
And then we do a final interview and job offer. That’s our step in getting people
there. And then how do we on board them? How do we on board those and train those
high performing staff? Well, it’s really important to set clear expectations
because we all want to know what to expect. And reliable communication is the
key to success, and also shared time in the field, and shared time in the field
looks at a handful of ways, shared time together with other teammates, but also
managers go in the field and observe everybody working. Back to the
communication piece though, and it being…so this really is, it’s human
services for a reason. But making sure that that communication piece is really
clear. And so maybe then have your accountability system already in place so
your Outlook calendar, we have weekly and monthly staff meetings. That time in the
field assures the employment consultant that they’re on the right track and it
also allows the program manager to be in a teaching moment if needed, and to be able
to give feedback. So teach time management and accountability, again, there’s a lot
of ways people are doing that. We have a database that we call Tessa, so we have
whatever you’re using, making sure that that’s…everybody knows how to use it is
a key thing. And then if we’re looking at caseloads and making sure that staff
aren’t in an overwhelmed situation, because that’s when we start to lose those
high performers is when we’re not on top of helping a new staff person manage their
caseload. And so we try to keep our staff anywhere, in their caseloads, anywhere
between 12 and 15 people at a time. And at this point for Trillium, that’s a
manageable thing. That may look different for your organizations and other
organizations in Washington state, but for us, that’s what we have found to be a good
number. It keeps people motivated, and stimulated, and on top of their game. The
three day training, this is really the core of our new hire training. And so the
first thing is covering our values and history. So the history and values of
Trillium, but it’s also the values and history of community based employment. And
we really believe that everyone can learn and work if we figure out how to teach
them, and that all people should have access to employment services if that’s
what they choose to do. The systematic instruction piece is an approach to a
response to what was once believed that label or IQ predicted somebody’s ability
to learn. And what we know today is that IQ and label doesn’t predict somebody’s
ability to learn. And so we’ll go in with…we have a day of systematic
training, which is what I do. And we bring in consultant learners that get paid for
their time with us, and it gives staff an opportunity to get in a learning
environment and working, doing hands-on work. And one of the things that I stress
in that training is that when we’re thinking about a lack of learning from
somebody, it should first be interpreted as an insufficient use of teaching
strategies rather than the inability of the learner. And that’s actually from Marc
Gold, from Marc Gold and Associates. And I just love that. And I think that if you
take anything today away, that that would be something that you should stick with.
The third piece is our job development and marketing, and we bring a woman in who is
a salesperson. She’s not in social services, she’s not…she works in the car
industry. And initially, people were like, “Oh no. This is going to be weird. She
doesn’t know our verbiage.” Well, what she does know is business verbiage. And
what we needed to learn was how to speak business language, and business verbiage,
and understand business bottom line. And again, initially it was really terrifying.
We all went through it. I went through it, and it was like, “Ooh, I don’t know if I
buy this. I’m not sure I would approach a business that way.” But after people have
taken it, and we do it, every new hire does it, we have doubled our outcomes and
placements based off of our three day training model. In addition, we have staff
check in with these three questions. And so each month, as they’re going through
their probation period, we ask that they answer these three things. “This month I
learned… ” ‘I’m using this new tool or invoked in my daily work by… ” “A
question I have in this area is… ” And so it just gives them a way to
self-reflect on where they’re at, and where there can be teaching moments. And
then they also have a mentor assigned. And the mentor is an ongoing long term mentor,
but really specifically for those first six months to a year if the person is
learning. And that mentor is that key person because a lot of the times, staff
don’t want to come to the program managers. They want to…it’s a safer
experience with a mentor versus their boss. And so, having a mentor program has
really helped us tighten up just our company culture really, and people’s
feeling of safety and…we get a lot of feedback that having a mentor was one of
the best things as a new staff. Kelly? So again, additional things, we do weekly and
monthly team meetings. I get out in the field and observe work. So we do that as
soon as the person has set up a job. I’ll go out and take a look at how they set it
up before the person’s coming on board. And then once the person does come on
board, I’ll go back out and observe coaching techniques. Because what know is
that [inaudible] placed on the job development, that we also…if you don’t
have good coaching skills, your job development is not going to mean much
because you’re not going to be able to coach and have that person be able to
maintain their employment. So it’s really important to have eyes on your team to
make sure that they have the tools that they need to be a great employment
consultant. Team collaboration, that again, that’s something that has yielded
high performing teams for us, but not just that. It’s helped double our outcomes. So
by collaborating, by having teams go out together and work together, and talking to
businesses, and knowing each other job seekers has benefited us greatly. We also
share stories, and we share our learning experiences. We have this incentive where
we call it getting a cat, like literally a cat, but a picture of a cat. And it
started a long time ago with our last director, and so when people get a job,
let’s say it’s somebody that’s working in a salon, it’s going to be a picture of a
cat maybe getting its hair colored or something. And I know it sounds silly, but
there is motivation for our staff to get the cat. And so and everybody wants to get
a cat in the email, and then it goes out to our entire team, and the whole story is
there of how the person got the job and what they’re doing. And then people can
not only celebrate that, but then they can go, “Oh wait. I could totally find a job
at XYZ salon just like Sam did, right?” So it gives a lot of information. We also
want to leverage our staff strengths, so working to what…building on their
strengths and nurturing their strengths will help them feel valued and making sure
that they want to be here, and that they’re invested, and that we have long
term staff. So really at the end of the day, there’s no recipe for employment,
community based employment, and there’s loads and loads of decision making. But if
you give your staff the support that they need and room to risk, which I know may
sound terrifying, but if you give them the room to risk, they are going to learn, and
they are going to feel confident, and they’re going to be some of the best
employment consultants that you could bring on board. So the next couple of
slides are just some of our partners. I couldn’t put the 300 logos on here, so
we’re kind of all over the place, from public to private. And again, this is
person centered jobs. We don’t plunk people in jobs who don’t have a pool of
jobs. We make sure that people are getting the jobs that they are really wanting. So
with that being said, those are good things. – Thank you so much, Aimee. I’m going to
mute your speaker here as I bring up, unmute, Jeannine. And thank you so much
for sharing. If folks have questions for Aimee, we’ll take them at the end and you
can chat them to Jane, is my other computer here that I’m working on, so you
can chat, then, there. So Jeannine, I have unmuted you, and Aimee, I believe I have
muted you. Yes, so I’m going to go back to sharing the screen here. And Jeannine, you
are on. – [Jeannine] Okay, well I’m happy to be
here as well. Thank you certainly for inviting us. And Aimee, it’s interesting,
I think Trillium could be our sister organization. We could definitely be
siblings. Our organization does exactly what Aimee went through, so I’m going to
try really hard to cover a few different things, but the process that Trillium goes
through is the exact process that New England Business goes through. And we too
started in 1983. On the screen is our mission statement, which is really just
about for us what was really important is that we wanted to make sure that people
whose right and freedoms were most likely going to be denied them, that we were able
to focus our supports on that group of people so that they could be fully
included in their community. And we say primarily through employment, but now
we’ve really shifted to only employment. For some time, we were doing some
community based day work as well as employment, and now we’re shifting to just
providing employment for folks. But really, we want people, we want everyone
in the community’s gifts and talents to be appreciated, whether someone has a
disability or not. Next slide. As I said, we were incorporated in 1983. So we’ve
been around a little over 30 years. And for some reason, my slide’s cut off on
your end. – I do see that, too. So it’s missing like
the first letter or two. Incorporated is missing the I, P in provides. I apologize. – As I said, we provide only integrated
individualized employment services where we serve roughly 400 individuals annually
throughout Massachusetts and the state of Connecticut. And very similar to Trillium,
since our incorporation, we’ve consistently achieved an 85 to 92%
successful placement rate. And not only are we getting the majority of the folks
that we serve employed, but people are maintaining that employment for years. And
so even years ago when the economy really, really had gotten bad, people that we had
provided services to weren’t losing their jobs. Their hours at times were reduced,
but people were still able to maintain their employment because their employers
saw them as such a valuable piece of their company. We are a licensed provider of the
Department of Developmental Services and both states, the vocational rehabilitation
entities. We do a lot of work with public schools for transitioning students, and
we’re also an employment network through social security Ticket to Work. Next
slide. But that wasn’t how we started. The vision of the former executive director
and board of directors had always been employment for people who really had been
denied access to employment services back in the early 1980s. But the only way we
could initially get our hands on folks was to set up mobile crews because the fear
was that what would people do during the day if they didn’t have a job? And so we
agreed to have mobile crews so people had work Monday through Friday from the hours
of 9:00 to 3:00. At that time, those were the restrictions that were set up. And
within a year, everyone was placed, well not everyone. The majority of folks were
placed in individualized jobs and we shut down those mobile crews after the first
year. Some people we weren’t successful with, and that’s going to happen. But the
majority of the folks we were. And many of them we still serve today and are still
employed. But what we really learned even though initially we wanted to be provided
only integrated individualized employment, and what we learned through even the
mobile crews, back to that kind of scaling up, because we really found that although
the people who we were serving were in the community, they weren’t truly integrated.
People didn’t know who they were. People knew who New England Business was, and it
was like, oh that’s that group of people, but no one was really known for who they
were and their own unique talents and gifts, opportunities to be with peers
without disabilities certainly wasn’t existing, and relationships weren’t being
developed. And so again, from the initial opening of our doors, our agencies had a
strong belief that everyone, regardless of disability types can be successfully
employed within their community, and that we really believe that our community is
far better when everyone is included, everyone’s participating, and everybody’s
contributing. Aimee went over some of the statistics with the financial benefits to
just the community and to the individuals certainly in her slide before. Next slide.
And so for us the obvious again. Why employment? When we first incorporated, it
wasn’t that we thought other services, community services weren’t important, but
there was a strong belief that employment would have…we felt that if we provided
employment services, we would have, make a greater impact on someone’s life to really
be part of their community. And some of it is really obvious. Certainly the
opportunity to earn an income is certainly really important. If you think about even
just for yourselves, work gives us a purpose and gives meaning to our day. It
gives an opportunity to be included and fit in. It also takes away all of the
negative stereotypes that oftentimes are put on people. Certainly if someone’s
employed, they can’t be a child, or they can’t be all of the other labels that are
put on them. They’re an adult and they’re working alongside other people. And
employment defines who we are. Every time I go anywhere, I think the first question
asked after my name is oh, what do you do? Where do you work? And so, certainly
employment gives the folks that we serve, people with disabilities, that opportunity
to have that defining answer as well. And lastly, the opportunity to make friends. I
really can’t underestimate when I think of all the people that we served, those
relationships, community relationships, has really made really the biggest impact
on folks’ lives. Next slide. I’m going to tell a quick story about a man that we
served, John Patrick. He had been a long time resident of a local state institution
called Belchertown State School. And he moved out in the early 19…oh it just
says early 90s in here, early 90s. And he lived there really his whole life. I think
he went in when he was at the age of two. And when he got out, once he was settled
residentially, he was referred to our organization to talk about employment. And
of course, John had never worked before. He had done tasks in the institution, but
he had never had a job. No one had ever talked to him about having a job. And so
when we started really working with him and doing a person-centered plan with him
and really going through discovery, he talked a lot about wanting to help other
people who were getting out of the institution because he felt like although
he had support, none of his paid supports could really identify with his experiences
and what it was like to be coming out in the community for the first time. And so
he really wanted to work with others that were coming out of the state school to
help them to reduce their anxiety, feel comfortable, pass on lessons learned kind
of thing. And so he worked as an advocate, and eventually as a public speaker for 10
years. He developed a training that our state still makes all residential
providers go through called A Home of Your Own. But he, because of things that had
happened in the state school, he became and he ended up in the
hospital. And they initially made him sign a do not resuscitate order. And John,
although he was a public speaker, he a lot of talents. He was not someone who was
really…he presented as kind of disheveled. His thoughts always weren’t
always clear. And so they really didn’t see him as someone that they should treat.
And he did not know what he was signing. But the important part that I want to make
the connection to, again, back to the relationship piece is, it was his work
friends and relationships that went in and learned about that, and advocated for the
hospital to treat him. It wasn’t all of the paid people in his life that were
there. So really his work and his community relationships saved his life. He
went on to live another five years. Next slide. So again, what are the employers’
benefits? What their return on investment? And when we’ve talked to any of the
employers that we’ve worked with, and I’ve talked to many other providers, they hear
the same thing. Hiring someone with a disability helped meet our production and
our sales goals, it improved our customer service, I know Aimee mentioned that. We
became more efficient, we were able to free up staff to concentrate on other
essential tasks. A quick story around that would be we went in and did a job analysis
of a large organization in Connecticut. At the time it was called Hamilton Standard,
and we spent quite a bit of time talking to their administrative staff and their
management staff looking at what would be helpful, what would increase their
efficiency, what would save them money, how could we best serve that particular
company. And we found that the sales orders that were coming through, these are
of course are large plane parts and things like that. So there was a triple copy, the
part comes in, it goes to be serviced, the one copy goes to them, the one copy goes
to the customer. Well the other copy was supposed to be filed so that if there was
a question, they could easily track it down. And we found that the clerical
staff, the administrative staff did not have the time to do that. So they were
simply throwing that away, which was an essential task that that company needed,
and so we were able to create a job for someone, who that was what her job was,
was to file all of those purchase orders, sales orders, and to deliver the mail
throughout the organization. And it saved them a ton of money, certainly improved
the morale of the staff there, and also cleared a lot of backlog to work, which
Aimee had mentioned as well. Next slide. Actually, I’m going to jump through,
before I talk about Shane, I want to just quickly mention the importance of
networking. When we’re looking at businesses and we’re working to identify
businesses and companies in our communities, it’s really important that
we’re out there networking. And if we look at who do we know ourselves, as well as
who the person that we’re serving knows, oftentimes there’s quite a bit of people
in their life that their family knows, or that a neighbor knows that we can really
tap into to help find great employers, whether it’s for that particular person or
another person. We make sure all of our staff are attending networking events, and
the key point is we really know what they employers’ needs are. So we’re not asking
them to help us, we’re there to help them. We’re there to help them recruit staff,
save them money on recruiting the staff. We’re helping them, as Aimee, said,
complete their work more efficiently. And it just makes good business sense. And so
the story on Shane, he’s a young man who has autism, and he’s mostly nonverbal. And
when he was first referred, he had come from a workshop where he had quite a few
behaviors, and so people were really afraid of him being out of the workshop.
But mom was a wonderful advocate. She was just concerned about him being in that
particular environment where he was. And we had lots of, we’re going to have to
provide two to one staffing for Shane, blah, blah, blah. And as we got to know
Shane and what he really liked to do, we were able to find opportunities, work
opportunities in his community that he could really contribute and show off his
strengths that he felt really good about doing, and that he was really excited to
go to every day. So now he works three different jobs. Three different jobs is
better for him than one job, just because he needs that break in between. But he
also communicates with his coworkers through an iPad, and participates in a
weekly peer group. And so when I look at Shane when he was first referred to now,
he’s a completely different person. He doesn’t exhibit the behaviors that he did.
I know his mom had said for the first time, he’s 26 now. She was out in the mall
in one of the places that he works, and for the first time, they went into where
he works, she was just so excited. She was crying because it was so amazing for her
to watch her son interact with these coworkers. She’s seen him interact with
family, but beyond that, no one’s really interacted with him before. And so that
was such an exciting moment for mom, but he’s been quite successful. All right,
next slide. So job descriptions and performance, I wanted to touch on quickly
only because we’ve been doing this work for over 30 years, and we’ve been
successful. But we found probably about 5 years ago…well it’s always been the
culture of our organization actually, I should go back, to always be looking at
how we can do things better. How can we improve our services? How can we do a
better of what we do? And the one thing that I found is that if we’re not always
assessing and always checking our data, and checking in, people can just become
complacent. It’s just a part of life. And so we, a few years ago, really needed to
relook at our job descriptions. And it was interesting because although we were
really clear that we’re employment consultants and we’re here to get people
employed in the community, nowhere in our job description did it really say that. It
was a human service-y written job description. And so we changed all of that
so it’s very focused now on integrated employment. There’s no question that
that’s what your job is, is to help people get employed in the community. Our
performance reviews are tied to our job descriptions. Each staff has smart goals,
which again, are tied to improved employment outcomes and best practice
employment services. And the smart goals for each staff person are reviewed
quarterly for progress measurements. So that way their supervisor their manager
has an opportunity to really either coach the staff if they need some assistance.
Likewise, it provides the staff an opportunity to look for ways that they can
continue to take on more responsibility or learn some new things. It helps to really
improve the morale of our staff. We also ended up creating levels of staff because
we wanted…we didn’t, at one time it felt like our staff felt like, if I didn’t
become a manager, then I’m always going to be an employment consultant. And frankly,
there’s nothing wrong with always being an employment consultant. I was an employment
consultant and I loved that work. So we needed to be able to show that you could
grow in your job and you could make this a long term career without feeling like you
had to be a manager, because frankly, not everyone wants to be a manager, but we
don’t want good staff to leave. So we have support professionals one and two who
provide just the one-on-one long term support for folks who need the support for
a variety of reasons. It’s typically not because they cannot do their job. It’s
usually because there might be a safety hazard or there’s something of risk that
the person has been given and we’ve been told by the department that we need to
provide one-on-one line of sight supervision. There’s only a few people
that we do that for. And so we have support professionals one and two who do
more of that. Then we have employment consultants level one, two, and three. And
as you progress through those levels, you’re expected to be more autonomous in
your job, you’re case managing more people. You are expected to do, grow along
the continuum of what we’re hoping will happen. And that’s really helped our staff
retention I will say. Next slide. Really focusing on staff development, staff they
need, as Aimee mentioned, best practices and high level training so they feel like
they have the tools that they need to do the job well that we’re asking them to do.
So we’re consistently training our staff on best practices and employment services,
which looks at planning and discovery, obviously job development, employer
development, on the job support, follow along and advancement. And along with
that, they have consistency provisions relative to those best practices, and our
managers too do field observations and make sure that our staff are feeling
supported out there so that they continue to do a good job. Next slide. As far as
capacity building, we always need to assess our current status and establish
benchmarks that include activities and timelines. So we’re always looking at the
number of people that complete discovery, the number of people that we’re serving on
job search, the number of people that are employed. And so each year we’re setting
new targets and new benchmarks, but everyone on their caseload, they know
exactly what they need to be doing. We obviously are looking always and planning
for potential obstacles, including financial systems. And certainly as our
state has moved and changed our rates, and changed the way we can do billing, we
really needed to look at how we can blend resources and braid resources better to
continue to provide more of the ongoing support for the folks that we serve,
because most of the individuals we serve are people at one point in their life,
they were told they weren’t employable. We’re always looking at potential partners
and always looking at new funding sources to see, like I mentioned, what we can
blend together and put together. Next slide. This is just an example of our
employment scoreboard, which each of our teams has. And so it has everyone that’s
referred, everyone that we’re serving, on the left hand their name, but we track the
number of hours that they work, obviously their employer. We track transportation
because at one point we were driving everyone to and from work ourselves, and
we worked really hard over the past five years so that the majority of our folks
now are taking the paratransit. PVTA is what we call it. But we track how are they
being transported. Date of last change just means when they got a new job, when
they were first referred, or when they first started or lost a job, because we
track how long it takes from someone to go from either being initially referred or
being unemployed to employed. And then whether they’re satisfied with their
hours. Next slide. [[0055:58]] Lastly, another quick story. I just want to
introduce self-employment quickly because traditional employment doesn’t work for
everybody that we serve, or for everybody period in our country. So Adam was someone
who we met when he was leaving high school, and there was no goal for
employment for him. He has a degenerative disorder, and so really the desire of the
family was to get him out of the house a couple days a week. He’s got severe
anxiety, get him out so he’s not as depressed, and keep an eye on his health.
And so we had him come to the office a couple days a week. He always liked
computers. And so we worked with him on different computer applications. And
eventually, web design was one that really stuck for him, loves web design. And so we
assisted Adam through a grant to open up his own business, Wilbraham Web Design,
and so he’s a web designer. He actually does many websites across the country,
many of the AAPC chapters, as well as a few of off state senators’ websites, and
other local businesses. And he just opened up a second business called Ruffle Work.
So I introduced Adam only because he’s a great example, again, if there’s someone
that you’re working with that traditional employment just isn’t working for,
consider self-employment as an option. We provide him with maybe four hours of
support a week, and he’s incredibly successful. I think that might be the end
of my slides. No. So back to my scoreboard, this just examines the data,
make sure you’re collecting that data, and use that to correct as you go. For us we
found that it’s real important not to accept excuses. It’s really easy for…job
developing can be difficult and it can be uncomfortable. And so we can’t accept
excuses. People are hiring. We know that. So we just don’t accept excuses. You’ve
got to get out there. You’ve got to network, you’ve got to make those
connections for people. And if people aren’t getting jobs, then we need to look
at what needs to change. Does staff need more training? Do we need a new approach?
Or do we need to look at our organizational culture? And that’s it. If
you have any more questions, certainly feel free to reach out to me. I’m happy to
assist as necessary. – Well thank you Jeannine, and thank you
Aimee. This is Kelly, and I’m going to stop sharing my screen here now. But we
are going to stay on the line for a few more minutes to do some chatting about
some specific questions for the presenters. So let me make sure I turn on
Aimee’s microphone as well. So the first question that I have seen here come
through, and you can chat your questions to myself, to Kelly Nye, was about “What
do people do during the day when they’re not working?” One of the questions that we
have both from families and service providers is that it’s wonderful many
folks want to work in the community and have jobs, and we recognize that jobs
don’t always happen from 8:00 to 5:00. So what do people do when they’re not
working? – A really great question, and I think
that, again, it’s a person-centered approach, and you want to…a lot of the
folks at Trillium support will be involved in park and rec activities, specialized
park and rec activities and other activities that they’re interested in,
that they’re passionate about, bring them joy. In addition, there’s people who are
volunteering in something that they’re wanting to do. So it really is about
making sure that you’re…employment is just one piece of everybody’s lives. But
you really want to make sure that you’re addressing whole lives. And so, that
includes things that when you’re not working. As we all want to be involved in
community and stay busy and stay stimulated, we’re thinking about that for
the folks that we’re supporting as well. – Yeah, I would just add to that, this is
Jeannine. We support folks to do some civic activities, certainly volunteer
work. We do have a career, what we call a career ladders program, which people can
attend, and it covers specific days that are really for someone who’s just brand
new, looking for work. But there’s a couple days that really focuses on social
skills, so if that’s something they need. We have a self-determination… I
shouldn’t say class, but a time that people can come when they’re not working.
We partnered with a local college to provide academic support so people could
enhance their academic learning. And we paired them with college students, so the
folks that we serve who are interested in working on their academics. In between
working times, they’ll go to the college, which is a great typical place for young
adults to go for their learning. And they’re partnered with a tutor, they work
on whatever the subject or subjects that they’re really interested in, either
increasing their skills on, or certainly maintaining their level of skill. And then
they participate in campus wide activities. Again, it’s all
person-centered, depending on really what the person is interested in. – So one question here, too, is that when
you’re providing support, either transportation, job support, support in
the community, can you talk at least in the background what funds or what pots of
money fund your organizations? – Sure, this is Jeannine. You want to go
first, Aimee? – No, go ahead. – We receive services through our
Department of Developmental Services in both states in And so
oftentimes, we can use both of those resources at the same time. So VR might
provide funding specifically for let’s say, job development where DDS might
provide the support for more day activity stuff while the person’s looking for work.
Or VR might provide more job development time, even if someone’s employed so we can
increase their number of hours employed, where DDS will provide the ongoing
support. We are an employment network through social security, and so we do get
some ticket money that we can use to continue to support people, as well as
grant funding. – No that’s great. I’m going to ask one
clarifying question, Aimee, before you jump in. Jeannine you were talking about
DDS. I believe the comparable equivalent here in Minnesota is our Minnesota
Department of Human Services that are funded either employment supports and
services that are either funded through Medicaid waiver programs or even county
dollars as well. So you’re talking about blending state dollars with VR dollars
through your Department of Human Interest. Okay, yep, just let me clarify that. And
Aimee, how about you in the state of Washington? What are the funding streams
that you access? – It’s very similar to Jeannine’s. So we
have the Division of Developmental Disabilities Administration and King
County Developmental Disabilities Administration and also VR. And again, we
use the basic plus waiver, which is a Medicaid waiver, a federal waiver, and so
it all just funnels down based off of what the person is utilizing at the time. – So let me ask one question to both of
you too. In your states, both in Washington and Massachusetts, based on
generally speaking, what percentage of folks use or access VR, or vocational
rehabilitation? – Yeah, that’s a good question. I’m going
to say 30 to 40%? – That’s a really good question. What’s
happening in Washington state is when somebody is on our county contract, so
King County Developmental Disabilities, that contract, if we’re looking at fair
advancement or the person loses the job and we’re going back into job development,
they will ask us to try to utilize VR before they give us more hours to provide
that additional service. – Yep. – So ours might be a little bit higher in
those scenarios, more than 30 to 40%. But for the most part, it probably, most of
the folks that we support are on our county contract. – Yep, excellent. That’s really helpful.
One of things that I wanted to highlight with that question is every state does
have access to vocational rehabilitation, but the way VR looks and feels in every
state is very different. In Minnesota, it’s very different than some other parts
of the country so I wanted to make sure folks who are on the line sort of
understood that we too have vocational rehabilitation. In Minnesota, it’s
embedded within our Department of Employment and Economic Development, but
we sometimes, especially with supporting people with really significant
disabilities, we don’t always think about that as a resource, and I think Jeannine,
you really talk about the blending and braiding of different funding streams.
Along those lines of funding, a couple folks asked about transportation cost
covered. Is it covered by your company or is it left up to the people that are
supported? – Go ahead, Jeannine. – Initially, things have really evolved.
So years ago, we had a transportation contract. That no longer exists. Then they
moved to another cost reimbursement for transportation, and so as I said, we
really worked hard getting as many people off of our transportation and on to our
public transportation, which isn’t as strong in Connecticut as it is in Mass.
And at that time, we were buying the van tickets for people. And so we were
absorbing that cost, but it was still cheaper than us transporting them. And it
certainly was making people much more independent. And then we were able to
eventually work with our department to put transportation dollars in, we have family
support contracts as well. And so now that money sits in family support contracts. – Excellent, thank you. Aimee, how about
for your organization? – So we can only provide transportation
when somebody’s in that first phase, which is that discovery exploration phase, or
community based assessment phase. And once somebody gets a job, the eligibility
requirements for our services in that we help them figure out sustainable
transportation. And so sustainable transportation might be our access
services, which is a reduced rate van pool basically that will come, they do door to
door. So pick you up at home, take you to work, and vice versa. And then in addition
to that, people that can take metro, so public transportation, they also can use a
reduced rate permit, and it’s called an Orca card, and it’s just less expensive
than for somebody without a disability to ride. So those are really our options at
this point for folks, and it’s not perfect. – I was going to say one of the things I
think I heard both of you talk about in the past, too, is that in the job
development or exploration phase is that really delving into transportation early
on rather than later is pretty important, because if you can’t secure good
transportation, it makes it hard to pursue jobs in certain places. So that
transportation is a really essential ingredient to doing good job development.
I don’t know if you’d agree or disagree. – No, absolutely. – I had to think about that first. – We really started recently in our
initial intake, like that’s part of the question that we ask is if mom or dad, or
uncle, or sister, whoever, is there a family member that can help with
transportation because we’ve been working really hard with families to start to
change their mindset that it’s an entitled service when it’s not. So that’s helped
some. There’s certainly some family members that will assist with
transportation. – Having a conversation, one of the
questions here that feels a little bit loaded, I was thinking about how we could
best approach this, but somebody asked “Does Minnesota have companies like
these?” So like Trillium or like New England Business Associates. And the short
answer is yes, there are a handful of those companies, and I’m guessing the
extension of that question is who are they and where are they. I think that’s a
matter of opinion in Minnesota too. I would really encourage providers,
individuals, family members, advocates who are listening today to talk to your county
case managers about the different organizations that are available in your
community, as well as if you have some comments or questions about other
resources here locally in Minnesota. There is a wonderful team of folks at the
Disability Service division, and their employment team, as well as a number of
staff here at the Institute on Community Integration that work with a variety of
organizations who use some of these different strategies and techniques. So I
encourage you to reach out to us that way. But I do at least want to leave with the
message that, yes, there are some companies in Minnesota that do these
things, and there are ways that we can build more customized support so more
people can access employment services and supports like this. So I answered that
question. Aimee and Jeannine, one of the other questions that I’ve seen come up a
couple times here is, “What happens to people who aren’t served successfully in
community job placements?” So have you had cases of where you’ve supported someone or
you pursued some…used your tools and used your staff support, connected with
business and things didn’t work out, and what happened next for people? – I think it’s case by case, and certainly
I’d be foolish to say, no, that never happens. It does, and a lot of the time,
we may have missed the mark on that first initial phase of exploration and
discovery, and gathering their skills and gifts. But a lot of the time, it’s around
the medical issues and maybe our inability to, at that point with that person, figure
out how to best teach. And so there may be scenarios to that effect. But it’s all
over the map. We’re certainly not in the business to terminate services just
because they can’t figure it out, because we have to and that’s our job is to be
creative in situations like that. But when the job doesn’t work out, we go back to
the drawing board and make sure that we’re getting more information and the person’s
participating fully in the plan, and the family’s participating fully in the plan,
and everybody’s on board, because when we’re not on board and communication is
weak, and the investment is weak, then the job is going to be weak. – So what I hear you saying here too is
that really everybody in successful placement, everybody has a role in that
particular…in supporting that person from families to the provider, to case
managers. And I also think, Aimee, one of the things that you said in your
presentation, and I wanted to remind folks of, is when, I think you mentioned that
when something doesn’t work out, as an organization, you don’t automatically
defer back and say well it’s the job seeker’s fault. You look at how you taught
the individual, was the job a good fit, and look more back at yourself rather than
seeing the job seeker as the failure. – Right, exactly. – So I wanted to remind folks of that
because I caught that. Jeannine, do you have any comments or thoughts about for
placements that don’t work out or community job halfways that maybe might
not be for everybody, and what’s happens after that? – Yeah, and I really just wanted to ditto
what Aimee said. Typically if a job doesn’t work out, it is typically our
fault. But there are times that people choose not to work, and as long as we
really provided a strong frame of reference for work, and then they choose
not to work for a different reason, like maybe it just doesn’t work with their
family schedule. That’s happened a time. We’ve had some people whose their family’s
life circumstances have changed, and so that necessitated a change for the
individual. And so a few things in our state would happen. One, the family and
the individual would go look at other providers to see if there’s a better fit
for a different provider. In Massachusetts, the doors for sheltered
work are closing, they’re very clear about June, 2016. And so that model’s all moved
to community based day programs. And so we had someone that we were serving, and they
chose to go do that as opposed to looking for work and working more hours than they
were. – Thank you for your comments there.
Before everybody goes today, I know we stayed a little bit longer, I want to
apologize for the technical difficulties. I know that can be frustrating when you’re
watching online. I do not only want to thank both of our speakers today for
sharing their knowledge and expertise, but I want to be sure to extend acknowledgment
and thanks to the Minnesota Department of Human Services Disability Service
Division, who have provided support and funding for this particular project. I did
provide a link in the chat box there of where you can go and find a recording of
this session, to the slides, a link a YouTube video channel, and the other
recorded videos that we have for this session. And we really hope that you have
found it to be useful to, again, continue to elevate the conversation about
promoting competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.
And it is a journey in Minnesota, and we really value having the ability to connect
with other partners from across the country to hear about their experiences.
So if you want more information, you can certainly email me directly, [email protected]
And in addition, I hope everyone has a wonderful day. Thank you, Aimee. Thank
you, Jeannine. – Thank you.
– Thank you. – And we look forward to next
week’s…actually yeah. Next week’s session will be May 3rd, and that will be
facilitated by Joe Timmons. So thank you all, and everyone have a lovely day. Take

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