Figure Out What You Want And Need
Start by identifying what's important to your young adult. Think about jobs or community experiences s/he has held in the past and what services worked and didn't work. Other issues to address include:
- Does my young adult need help figuring out the types of jobs and careers s/he would like and be good at?
- Will his/her support needs change over time? Are there times when more help will be needed?
- What's most important? Pay and benefits? Fun people to work with? Safety and security? Location? Job satisfaction? Potential for promotions and growth?
- Will help be needed to manage benefits, such as Social Security and MassHealth?
- Will job coaching services be needed on the job, how often and for how long?
- Will help be needed to identify activities for when s/he is not working?
Get the information you need to make a good decision about the services that will be best for your young adult and your family. Here are some suggestions for gathering information:
- Talk to friends, families, and teachers who may be familiar with employment services.
- Ask DDS and MRC/MCB for a list of provider organizations in your local area.
- Find out if DDS and MRC/MCB have information and statistics on how successful programs have been in helping people find and keep jobs.
- Read annual reports and other written material from the service providers.
- Contact local self-advocacy and family advocacy groups for recommendations (see resource section).
- Ask others for ideas and recommendations, getting a variety of viewpoints. Remember, what is important to others may not be important to you, and vice versa.
Investigate Employment Programs: What To Ask? What To Observe?
Visit and interview a variety of employment service provider programs and ask for consumer and family references. When you are visiting, pay attention to the general feeling you get about the program and staff when you are there. Is it a welcoming environment? Do you feel comfortable and respected? Take time to make some observations about the program: is it in a location which feels part of the community? Does the program have a supportive approach to providing employment assistance or is it more of a "take charge," authoritative approach?
Below are questions to ask when you visit the provider. You don't have to ask all of the questions but we hope the issues they address will help focus you during your visit. How your questions and concerns are answered will also help you compare various programs.
Learn about the organization and the basic services it offers:
- How long have they been in business?
- Which employers do they work with?
- Does the organization offer a variety of services besides finding employment for people with disabilities or is the focus strictly on finding employment?
- Does the program offer individual placements? Are group placements used?
- If group placement is the approach, do these placements pay at least minimum wage?
- Are workers on the employers' payroll, or are workers paid by the provider?
- Do workers have access to the benefits that all employees receive?
- Who does the program serve; how many; what kind of disability; ages?
- How many people did the program assist in finding jobs in the last year? How many were successfully hired? For what types of jobs? How long have they been on these jobs?
- On average, how long does it take to find an individual a job?
- Does the organization support people on the job during non-traditional hours (evenings, weekends)?
- Can the program provide recommendations from people who have previously received services from them?
Learn about how the program works with individuals:
- What is the program's typical process for providing services to an individual? How are services tailored to individual needs?
- How does the program help people figure out what kind of job the individual wants?
- How much are the employees (placed by the program) earning? How many hours are they working? Do they receive benefits such as vacation, health insurance?
- Have employees advanced or been promoted in their careers/jobs?
- What happens when a person does not succeed on a job? Will the program help the individual a second or third time to get a job? Will there be ongoing support?
- What opportunities exist for individuals to exercise control and choice over the services they receive?
- Does the program emphasize the use of existing "natural supports" from employers and the community, or do program staff typically provide the majority of supports?
Learn about the program's staff:
- What kind of qualifications does staff have?
- What is staff turnover like?
- How long has the director been there?
- What is staff-to-individual ratio? What are staff caseload sizes?
People with Intellectual Disabilities in Jobs Across Massachusetts
Hair Salon Assistant
Taxi Cab Detailer
Funeral Home Usher
Dog Groomer's Assistant
Child Care Assistant
Locker Room Attendant
Medical Records Clerk
Banquet Room Set-up Person
Small Engine Repair Person
Wet Hand Sander
Building Services Aide
Stock Maintenance Worker
Inspection Prep Technician
Quality Control Inspector
Lawn Care Worker
Redemption Center Sorter
Data Entry Clerk
Shipping and Receiving Worker
Restaurant Set-up Person