Families and friends can play an important role helping those with disabilities plan for employment and find a job that is a good fit.
Families know their child better than anyone else and can contribute important insights throughout the job development process. To help an individual find the right job it is important to share information about:
- A person’s interests and skills
- A person’s learning style
- A person’s social skills
- Environments that support his/her success
Anticipate and specify needed accommodations and supports
Families understand the types of support their child needs in order to meet his/her potential. It’s important that the correct supports are in place to promote vocational success.
Issues to consider:
- Sensory Processing
- Behavioral Concerns
- Medical Issues
- Mobility Needs
- Communication Style
Be sure assessments are up to date. Assessments such as Speech and Language, Occupational, and Assistive Technology assessments should identify goals and strategies that help a person succeed. If an individual has benefitted from a behavior plan, that plan should be shared with the case manager and VR counselor as such plans can be adapted for the workplace.
Families often have networks of friends and neighbors who can provide opportunities for learning about different types of work, job shadowing, and information about actual job openings. Families can model and encourage their child to network at events and within their communities. There are potential employers everywhere.
Self-advocacy and self-determination
Families can encourage their child to articulate his/her goals to help him/her find meaningful employment. It’s important to help young adults talk about their strengths and any new skills they wish to acquire.
Both Community Support and Home Support services can be used to build pre-vocational skills and “soft skills” that contribute to an individual’s ability to find and keep a job. The sections in this document on Community Support and Home Support services describe these skills.
How to Choose a Provider of Career Planning Services
Potential questions to ask when choosing a Career Planner:
- Are you a certified employment specialist?
- When did you receive your certification to provide career planning?
- How many people have you helped with career planning?
- Tell me about some of your experiences helping people discover a career that was right for them.
- How long does it take to develop a career plan?
- How much time will you spend with me each week?
- Where will we meet?
- What types of activities will we do together?
- What is expected of me during career planning?
- How will you keep in touch with me?
- When are you available to help me with career planning?
As providers of career planning services have small caseloads of 4-5 clients at a time, individuals may find they need to wait for services. Over time, as more employment specialists are trained to offer this services, wait times should become shorter.
How to Choose an Employment Specialist
Interview several employment service providers and ask for consumer and family references. When visiting a service provider, pay attention to how you feel about the staff and office environment. Do you feel welcome, comfortable, and respected? Does the program offer a supportive approach to employment assistance?
The following are suggestions for questions you can ask when you meet with an employment specialist. You don’t have to ask all of the questions. Select the ones that are most important to you. The answers you get will help you choose the employment specialist who can best help you.
Questions about the Employment Specialist:
- How much experience do you have working with clients like me?
- Please explain the different services you offer.
- What is the difference between an employment specialist and a job developer?
- How long will it take to help me find a job?
- How much time will you spend with me each week?
- How will you stay in touch with me?
Questions about services:
- How will you help me find a job?
- How will you learn about my interests?
- How will you assess what I’m good at and where I need help?
- How will some of my needs be met? (Ask about any communication, sensory, social, or medical needs or concerns.)
- How will you determine how to match my learning style with the right job?
- Will I receive training before I start a job?
- What will be my responsibilities during the job search?
- How can my family and friends help me find a job?
Questions once employed:
- Who provides supervision?
- Who will train me if I need to learn or improve any skills to do the job?
- Will the work supervisor receive any training on how to best support me?
- How can Assistive Technology improve my job opportunities?
- Will there be opportunities for growth at my job?
- How will you help develop natural (unpaid) supports at work?
How will any problems at work be addressed?
Article by eParent Connect