Collaborating to Support Project Search for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Description of the Practice

Project Search is an internship employment model for job seekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) whose goal is competitive integrated employment. Project Search participants learn workplace skills and tasks in a combination of classroom and workplace settings at a community employment site.

Project Search is usually targeted at young adults finishing high school. Over the last decade, Florida has established up to 40 sites for transition-age youth. With the success of these sites, stakeholders in Florida began studying the possibility of creating Project Search programs for adults with IDD receiving Adult Day Training (ADT) services. The intent is that after participating in Project Search, adults with IDD will have the necessary experiences to make an informed choice about obtaining a job in their community.

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Recording  Available: A Self Advocate Perspective: Strengthening the System of Support

If you missed the presentation on April 12, 2022, you are in luck! A recording of the event is now available! In April’s event, Natalie Jean from ADP and Sheila Gritz-Swift from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council discussed the Florida Developmental Disabilities Network Leadership Development Program and the creation of a scorecard that allows people with disabilities to determine whether they are receiving high quality employment services. Stay tuned for a bonus recording with Arizona Jenkins III, coming to you soon!

Click here to watch the event recording

Are you a person with a disability would like to work? Check out these resources!

Meet our speakers for the April 12 event!

Sheila Gritz-Swift

Sheila serves as the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council’s Senior Director, Programs and Contracts, where she provides oversight and support for development, implementation, and evaluation of the Council’s Five-Year State Plan.  Mrs. Gritz-Swift’s background includes 25 years working in the field of Exceptional Student Education as a practitioner, state-wide trainer, and Program Specialist for the Florida Department of Education, as well as 10 years with the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council.  Her primary content expertise and contributions to the field are in the areas of employment, secondary transition, and self-determination and self-advocacy.

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TAP Equals Talent: Agency Partnership Introduces Employers and Job Seekers Through the Talent Acquisition Portal

Description of the Practice

Florida’s Division of Blind Services (DBS) and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) use multiple resources to meet their employment placement goals. One resource that each agency uses is the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP). Nationally, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) oversees TAP. CSAVR includes 80 agencies, staffed by about 25,000 people, serving approximately 1 million customers with disabilities each year.

TAP is an online platform where employers can identify job candidates with disabilities. The purpose of TAP is to address the wide disparity in employment rates for people with and without disabilities. TAP supports employers who want to increase the diversity of their workforce, including individuals with disabilities.

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Join us on April 12, 2022 for: A Self Advocate Perspective: Strengthening the System of Support

Join us on April 12, 2022 to hear from self-advocates in Florida as they discuss their membership in the Florida Developmental Disabilities Network Leadership Development Program. Attendees will learn about work being done to identify barriers and solutions to improve quality employment services for Floridians with developmental disabilities. During the event, our speakers, Arizona Jenkins II and Natalie Jean will describe their work on the Florida DD Network Collaborative Leadership Program, a program designed to develop a diverse cadre of current and emerging leaders with and without disabilities. The cadre worked collaboratively to identify barriers and solutions to improve quality employment services for Floridians with developmental disabilities. The discussion will include a recommendation to create a scorecard that allows people with disabilities to determine whether they are receiving high quality employment services.

Date: April 12, 2022 from 3-4 PM
Location: Zoom meeting room
Register now

After you register, you will receive an email confirmation that includes connect information.

Need more information or assistance?  Contact Nancy Nickolaus at nancy.nickolaus@umb.edu.

Webinar recording: College Matters Florida


If you missed the College Matters Florida presentation on February 8, 2022, you’re in luck! We have a recording. Jaimie Timmons and Sheila Johnson presented on the new College Matters public awareness campaign. We had some great questions from our audience, and it was exciting to see so many people interested in supporting inclusive education programs for young adults with ID.

Webinar slides

Guest presenter slides

Here’s a bit of follow up information.

If you would like to help promote the message College Matters, please complete this form or contact Jaimie Timmons (Jaimie.Timmons@umb.edu) directly.

College Matters Florida staff are eager to get students involved. Please pass along our contact information or share the survey link: https://umassboston.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bqFuPLHKqIdfpKS

Here are a few resources they shared during the presentation.

College Matters Campaign news article

University of Central Florida College Matters resources
Think College Search engine : A database of 312+ colleges and universities offering inclusive college programs for students with intellectual disability.

Join us Feb. 8, 2022: College Matters Florida

Learn more about college for students with IDD

College Matters. It is the name of the project but also a statement. College for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) matters, a lot!

On February 8, we welcome Jaimie Timmons, coordinator of the College Matters Florida (CMF) project. Jaimie will explain the CMF project, it’s evolution and share key resources available to you, including a 5-part series of videos about inclusive secondary and postsecondary education.

CMF kicked off a multi-media educational awareness campaign in January 2022.  Jaimie, along with colleague, Sheila Johnson, will describe the campaign and explain how each one of use can help spread the message that college is a viable and transformative experience for transitioning youth and young adults with IDD in Florida.

Register today!

If you have questions, you may contact Nancy Nickolaus at nancy.nickolaus@umb.edu

Division of Blind Services: Supporting Employment Staff to Meet District Service Goals during Challenging Times

The Division of Blind Services (DBS) is under the Department of Education and includes 15 district offices throughout the state that provide a full range of services to Floridians who are blind and visually impaired. Staff at the state level ensure that each of the 15 district offices has the information and skills to meet its employment placement goals. Over the past five years, including during the COVID-19 public health emergency in 2020-21, DBS has met or exceeded its annual goals.

At the beginning of the most recent fiscal year on July 1, 2020, the COVID-19 public health emergency brought a new set of challenges to job seekers supported by DBS. However, the public health emergency did not stop DBS clients from obtaining employment and it did not stop the district offices from meeting or exceeding their goals. In fact, the combined total of successful employment closures for all the district offices for FY 2021 was 788, 33 more than the annual total goal of 75

“This was a great accomplishment for our DBS team due to the uncertainty that the pandemic brought to each district office area, where COVID numbers and safety measures were affected differently by higher numbers in some areas more than others,” DBS’s business program consultant Stacy Smith shared.

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Online event recording available: Benefits Planning & Work Incentives

October 26, 2021: Benefits Planning & Work Incentives: Busting Barriers to Employment Event

People with disabilities or their family members may be hesitant to work due to fears about losing health care and other benefits.  This month’s online event provided information about work incentives and resources that can help eliminate these concerns.

Focusing on the Social Security, Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program, our speaker Lesly Quintanilla Lopez highlighted a variety or rules and work incentives that can help people work, retain health care and increase financial security. She stressed the importance of being proactive and provided tools that can help. If you or someone you know is interested in working and receives SSI or SSDI contact the WIPA expert in your area.  Don’t know your local Community Work Incentive Coordinator?  You can find your local WIPA provider by zip code and other information in the the attached resources.

Click here to watch the event recording

Resources:

Find a local WIPA provider by zip code. Choose the Benefits Counseling WIPA dropdown option: Http://www.choosework.net

Ticket to Work Helpline: 1-866-968-7842

Visit the Social Security Administration and learn more about SSA Benefits and work supports: https://choosework.ssa.gov/

To learn to take control of your finances and build financial independence at https://www.mymoney.gov/ Check out money management tools like household budget worksheets and a financial savings calculator.

10.26 SSA beneficiaries, how a CWIC can help you [PDF]

10.26 Asset Building for Individuals with Disabilities [PDF]


Financial Planning Resources

“Financial independence is possible!”

With hard work, planning, education, training, and support from Social Security, Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) , employment support providers and others you can have a good job, good career, and a better, self-supporting future. Here are some resources that can help you access WIPA support and information on available work incentives! Being proactive is important and these tools can help put you in the drivers seat to increased independence.

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