Strengthening Transition & Employment

Collaborative on Discovery and Innovation in Employment (CODIE)
In the first year of CODIE the Council through our provider, The University of South Florida, has provided training to both Lee and Pasco County Schools which trained faculty to use the Discovery Process to explore the strengths, abilities and interests students with significant disability have and ensure they are gaining work experiences in the areas of those interests.

In year two of CODIE the Council will continue the work with Lee and Pasco County Schools and work with two more school districts to implement the Discovery process. This initiative will also include the Project 10 RTR’s in order to train them to use the Discovery process in a person centered planning format so that in the future they can assist any of the school districts in their regions who want to learn the process to do so.

Project Achieve
Florida State College at Jacksonville collaborated with Duval County School District, a very large district and Nassau County School District, a very small district to create an inclusive, career and vocational program for students with developmental disabilities. In the first year five students from each school district took classes in welding, carpentry, childcare, hazardous waste disposal, cosmetology, automobile collision repair and distribution and logistics (warehouse management). In year two, Project Achieve has added twelve more students and airplane coating and articulated nursing to the programs students are being trained in. The program is applying to be a Comprehensive Transition Program through the federal government so that students can access Pell Grant funding to pay for tuition and books.

Post-Secondary Expansion
As Project Achieve has been such a success FDDC would like to see as many State College Career and Vocational Programs replicate Project Achieve as possible. To this end we have supported the dissemination of information and supported State College personnel, parents, and self-advocates from state colleges to attend the Hartwick Symposium in the fall of 2012 and will continue to support this symposium and the Vision’s conferences in the spring to continue to disseminate the information and support the expansion of just such projects. We will also be supporting state colleges through mini-grants that provide mentoring and classroom technology to support students to take advantage in the inclusive vocational training programs that are springing up around the state for students with developmental disabilities.

Let’s Get Everyone to Work
This initiative is designed to provide training, technical assistance and resources to employers and community stakeholders on employing individuals with developmental disabilities. The initiative partnered with Diane Wilkins Production to develop and disseminate three high quality videos. The videos are targeted to self-advocates, families, educators, community agencies, students in higher education, and employers to promote the use of best practices in high school transition programs that culminate in employment for students with developmental disabilities. An Employment Options Guide will be developed as part of year two of this project to help youth and adults navigate pathways to postsecondary education, training, and employment as well as the agencies and resources that can provide supports.

Rural Routes to Employment
The Center for Social Capital is implementing the Rural Routes to Employment Initiative. This initiative is designed to provide technical assistance to stakeholders in rural communities in Florida to develop and implement a strategic plan for creatively addressing strategies that lead to an increase in employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities living in rural communities. The Center for Social Capital project staff initially selected four communities based on their request for proposal responses: (1) Bishop Grady Villas (Osceola County); (2) Building Blocks Ministries, Inc. (Lake County); (3) Helping People Succeed (Okeechobee County); (4) Trio Employment Network (Santa Rosa County). Each of the sites has developed Community Action Teams (CATs), identified team members, received technical assistance and training, and conducted resource mapping activities. Each of the sites will complete community forums to ascertain information related to employment barriers and opportunities in their respective communities. Findings will be shared with additional communities to improve the employment of individuals in other rural areas.

Employ Me1st
The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) in Massachusetts has partnered with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Agencies, through a grant from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, to help Florida develop an EmployMe1st initiative. EmployMe1st means that employment is the first option considered for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. ICI has conducted focus groups and forums around Florida for self-advocates, families, caregivers and providers to learn the challenges and successes of the state’s employment efforts and researched the various Employment First strategies being utilized in other states to evaluate the viability for utilization of these strategies in Florida. From this data ICI will develop a report and plan to help Florida begin addressing implementation of infrastructure changes.

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