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RI Employment Success Stories

Family Employment Awareness Training | Community Supports Navigator Program | Supporting Meaningful Employment Training Schedule

Meaningful employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities evolves from a variety of experiences that take into account the individual's goals, strengths, and interests. Employment for one individual may be independent, traditional work hired into an existing job, while for another it may involve a customized or carved job that meets the identified needs of both the employer and job seeker. For yet another, successful employment may result in self-employment or entrepreneurship.

The stories highlighted on this page are just a few of the stories reflecting the varied paths to employment taken by individuals in Rhode Island. To read more stories, download the Rhode Island Employment Success Stories booklet 3.2 MB (PDF).
New stories will be periodically posted to the site.

Customized Employment Resources: Griffin-Hammis Associates | Marc Gold & Associates

Jasmine
Successfully managing two jobs

Jasmine requested community paid employment when started services at the Fogarty Center. Initially, she worked on a team that did janitorial work. She also joined the employment-first team to improve and enhance her skills. It became apparent that Jasmine had reading and writing skills that were never observed on her janitorial job. Jasmine and her family participated in Person-Centered Career Planning to further identify her interests and skills. Jasmine now works two part-time community jobs. She does housekeeping and office work at the Women's Psychotherapy and Counseling Center and is employed as a Merchandise Associate at TJ Maxx.

With Jasmine's interests and skills in mind, the Fogarty Center job developer met with a local Counseling Center which was in need of a part-time housekeeper. When the job developer met with the business owner, other tasks that matched Jasmine's skills were identified and a new position was designed. Jasmine's housekeeping tasks include sorting documents and business materials, collating and copying documents, transmitting facsimiles, addressing mailings, assisting with billing, and compiling information packets while complying with a confidentiality agreement. Jasmine was hired as a housekeeper for two hours a week at $10 / hour, and to clean windows in the summer for an additional hour at $20 / hour.

Jasmine also participated in a situational assessment of her retail skills that was funded through Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS). Following the assessment, she was hired by TJ Maxx as a Merchandise Associate for 12 hours a week at minimum wage. Jasmine tasks include removing packaged items from the shipping dock, unpacking shipping boxes, identifying and separating damaged goods, separating clothing and items based on size and specifications, placing appropriate sizing and security tags on store items, hanging tagged items on stocking racks, and stocking appropriate items in corresponding locations on store shelves and surfaces. Jasmine used ORS funds to get this job started. BHDDH-DDD funds support her ongoing monitoring. She uses Fogarty Center staff (BHDDH funds) to travel to work.


Seth
Loss of one job leads to new employment opportunities

As part of Seth's transition program, he received a vocational evaluation and a situational assessment. He left his high school experience with a paid job at Pizza Hut. His self-directed supports through the Division of Developmental Disabilities provided job coaching for this job, as well as support for his other community activities such as volunteering at the Newport County YMCA.

After about a year, the Pizza Hut closed. This did not stop Seth from pursuing employment. His team looked to his family's network to identify other possible employment. He was hired briefly at a small restaurant. The management did not want a job coach in the kitchen with him. It soon became clear that Seth really needed a job coach to complete his duties and the opportunity did not last long.

Soon after, his team set up a work trial with the grounds crew at the Green Valley Country Club where Seth had an opportunity to improve his skills. Before long, he was offered employment as part of the grounds crew for seven hours a week. His job coach also approached the YMCA where he had been volunteering about the possibility of paid employment. There was an opening for three hours a week at the front desk - checking the ID and the membership database for patrons coming into the Y. Seth interviewed and was hired for three hours a week with the possibility of expansion to other duties in the future.

Seth is successful in all of his jobs with the support of a job coach, who helps him with appropriate and clear social interactions and also helps him to stay on task. His job coach also provides transportation for Seth to his employment and other community activities. These supports are part of his DD self-directed plan. He is paid minimum wage at both of his jobs.


Emily
Supported with low-tech job accommodations and natural supports

At Buffalo Wild Wings, Emily works in the kitchen in the "southwest station." She portions food items before they go out to be cooked on the line. Emily uses a digital scale to weigh the portions - cheese, chicken, and salad greens. She weighs the proper amounts and puts them into bags. She also labels the bags with her initials, date and time, and stores them in a refrigerator. Emily works 12 hours a week and was hired at minimum wage. She has been working at Buffalo Wild Wings for one year.

Emily attended a 12-week culinary program at the Trudeau Center that was funded through the Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS). Through this program Emily became "food safe certified."

The culinary job developer at the Trudeau Center assisted Emily in finding her job. She receives the natural support of a co-worker who works right alongside Emily, sometimes on the same task, sometimes on different tasks. The co-worker helps in deciding what needs to be done each day. This depends on supply and demand. Emily uses her phone as a clock (She has to label the bags with the date and time). She uses the digital scale. She also uses a system of color coding for the various size bags she uses as well as for labeling the bags with the day of the week.

ORS funded an employment coach to help teach Emily her job. The employment coach devised a chart system that helps Emily remember the portion amounts. With this and her natural supports, the employment specialist's time with Emily has faded to just periodic site checks. BHDDH-DDD funds these supports ongoing. Emily sometimes uses the RIDE para transit as well as the RIPTA Flex bus to get to work. Sometimes Trudeau Center support staff transport her.

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