Agencies and Providers' Success Stories Series

Employment First Florida Success Stories: Employment Services

Employment Services Strategies for Effective Networking Across Local-level Service Organizations and State Agencies

The series highlights examples of innovative employment services and creative state agency employment practices in Florida. The series is a product the EmployMe1st project, a joint project of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services. Click here if you would like to read stories about working indivduals with disabilities. 


Peer Support Specialists at Meridian Behavioral Health Care Empower Treatment Teams and People in Recovery 

August 2019

Meridian Behavioral Health Care, Inc., in Gainesville, Florida includes certified recovery peer specialist (CRPS) staff on almost all their treatment teams, including thepsychosocial treatment teams, the mobile response team, and the homeless outreach program. CRPSs work in either full or part-time paid positions within the department, with anywhere from 10 to 20 clients. Read more.

Brick by Brick: Building Brevard County's talent pipeline through work-based learning experiences

The passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014 established a mandate for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to strengthen local partnerships with school districts. VR, which is within the Department of Education, has enhanced its collaboration with schools to allow access to services to students with disabilities who are still in high school to help them transition to employment and postsecondary education. Read the full profile.

RESPECT of Florida: Supporting Self-Employment through Microenterprise Grants

The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) is a statewide professional association that serves as a voice for rehabilitation service providers. Florida ARF represents community rehabilitation providers (CRPs) throughout Florida with different levels of engagement with community employment. The association has been a consistent partner in efforts to change public policy and expand community employment. Read the full profile.

Division of Blind Services: Employment Placement Specialists and Counselors Meeting Regularly to Improve Employment Services

Until a couple of years ago,Division of Blind Services counselors did not work closely with the employment placement specialists (EPS), also employed by DBS, to whom they would refer job seekers. EPS would then take on the responsibility of helping the job seekers find employment. In many instances, counselors would be brought into job situations to help people maintain employment by helping them become oriented to workplaces and obtain any needed accommodations and natural supports. DBS made changes to improve this process. Read the full profile.

CareerSource Florida partners with organizations to address barriers that often coexist with disabilities

CareerSource Florida is the statewide agency responsible for compliance with workforce-related legislation. It creates policies that local workforce boards implement to increase community access to work opportunities. CareerSource Florida often collaborates with other agencies to organize job fairs, conferences, and other opportunities to connect the business community with job seekers, including those with disabilities. Read the full profile more.

The Successful Futures program at Helping People Succeed (HPS): Expanding Options for Volunteering and Employment

Helping People Succeed (HPS) is a service provider headquartered in Jensen Beach, in Martin County. Since it was established over fifty years ago by parents wanting a better quality of life for their children with disabilities, HPS has evolved its programs and services to meet changing attitudes toward people with disabilities, and has grown to serve children and adults with disabilities and their families in four Florida counties. Read more.

Nassau County School District becomes VR vendor to better serve transition-age students

In 2016, the Nassau County School District became an official Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) vendor. Administrators decided to have the school district become a vendor so it could better support its students with disabilities, ages 15 to 22, in paid and unpaid community-based work experiences before graduation and employment. Read more.

FL SAND (Florida Self-Advocates Network’D)

Members of FL SAND (Florida Self-Advocates Network’D), a statewide network of local self-advocacy groups, wanted to develop a website for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), service professionals, and family members. They created as a news hub. The site features information and resources to improve the quality of life of people with IDD, as well as policy development updates and advocacy talking points. Read more.

Broward Behavioral Health Coalition

Individuals with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis often struggle to obtain and maintain employment. Florida, like most states, has a high unemployment rate for people with mental illness. State agencies in Florida are working together to address this problem through state and local level agency partnerships. The Broward Behavioral Health Coalition Managing Entity is working with state and local partners at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation under the Department of Education, and the Department of Children and Families Substance Abuse and Mental Health Office. Read more (PDF)

Florida Department of Management Services, Division of Human Resources

The Human Resource Management (HRM) division of the Florida Department of Management Services provides human resource programs and services that attract, develop, retain, and reward a high-performance workforce. Among their activities, HRM offers training, roundtable discussions, and other resources that assist state agencies recruit and retain individuals with disabilities. Read more (PDF) 

Florida Center for Inclusive Communities: Training All Stakeholders on Employment Innovation

The Florida Center for Inclusive Communities (FCIC) was established at the University of South Florida in 2005 as one of the national network of university centers for excellence in developmental disability (UCEDD) across the country. Over the last decade, as Florida has moved toward its recent adoption of an Employment First policy, FCIC has come to play a prominent role as a provider of training and technical assistance in employment. Read more (PDF)

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program

The Florida Unique Abilities Partner program recognizes these employers, supports their efforts, and encourages more employers to make similar commitments.The Florida Unique Abilities Partner program is a collaboration of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida Department of Education’s Bureaus of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services, the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and Career Source Florida. Read more (PDF)

Nassau County Public Schools - Hornet’s Nest Café and the Transition to Adult Program (TAP)

The Nassau County public school system provides transition-age youth the opportunity to develop employment skills through two programs: the Hornet’s Nest Café at Yulee High School, and the Transition to Adult Program (TAP). The café and TAP are supported and championed by the school district and principals. The district recognizes the importance of exposing transition-age youth to programs outside of traditional special education settings so they may develop employment and communication skills. The district’s support is a key factor in the success of the programs. Read more (PDF)

Association of Agencies (AOA) of South Florida

Collaboration is a demonstrated best practice to support individuals with disabilities to achieve their goals. In 2000, the Association of Agencies (AOA) of South Florida began to provide a venue to bring together government and service agencies to collaborate. Initially members were drawn from the Miami-Dade area, but over time as the membership has grown it have expanded and have additional chapters in Monroe and Broward Counties. Read more (PDF)

The Rural Routes to Employment Project

Local agencies in Florida, as with any other state, experience different employment opportunities and challenges depending on their location. The populations in rural areas, farther from service agencies and business communities, might appear to have many more barriers to becoming employed. The Rural Routes to Employment (RRTE) project, with the Griffin Hammis Associates Center for Social Capital (CSC), has helped people in rural parts of Florida to look for the assets and strengths in their communities and to generate employment opportunities. Read more (PDF)

Nassau County: Creating a Support Network to Achieve Independent Travel to Work

One of the most challenging barriers faced by Floridians with disabilities. To help overcome this obstacle, administrators in the Nassau County public schools are supporting students with significant disabilities to learn the skills they need to travel to their jobs. Collaborative discussions and planning with the local Council on Aging (COA) allowed the administrators to understand the issues, and to put supports in place to help students achieve maximum self-sufficiency in traveling. Read more (PDF)