Read our latest Annual Report!

Download the report

The report is written in plain language and can be a great tool to build conversations around Employment First.

Questions the report answers:

-Why is ensuring employment for all, important?
-What does the 2019 American Community Survey say about employment data?
– What 11 Florida agencies are working together on Employment First?
-What are their goals?
-What have they accomplished?

Share this report with people you support, family members and colleagues. Discuss what you can do to support these efforts!  It takes all of us to make a difference.

Contact Jennifer at Jennifer.bose@umb for more information about the report.

ARC of the Bay’s Culinary Institute: Preparing People with Disabilities for Employment in a High-Demand Industry

Description of the practice:

Supporting people with disabilities to work in jobs in the community is a high priority at the Arc of the Bay in Lynn Haven, Florida. Many individuals who participate in services at the Arc of the Bay are interested in the culinary industry. However, when adults attempted to access existing culinary training programs in their community, they frequently experienced barriers, such as lacking a Graduation Equivalency Diploma (GED), high school diploma, or driver’s license. To address these barriers, the Arc of the Bay worked to develop a high-quality culinary training program that would operate without those requirements.

In July of 2019, the ARC of the Bay began a partnership with Gulf Coast CareerSource and Gulf Coast State College to explore the needs of the community’s employers and the types of culinary training and certifications those employers required. They created an advisory board to oversee the development of the program and hired a team of instructors led by a professional chef and alumnus of the Gulf Coast State College culinary program. The Culinary Institute program offers training and certification to people seeking either full- or part-time employment.

Continue reading “ARC of the Bay’s Culinary Institute: Preparing People with Disabilities for Employment in a High-Demand Industry”

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

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.

Continue reading “Collaborating to Support Project Search for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities”

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.

Continue reading “Meet our speakers for the April 12 event!”

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.

Continue reading “TAP Equals Talent: Agency Partnership Introduces Employers and Job Seekers Through the Talent Acquisition Portal”

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