October 26, 2011

by: Renee Canfield

Finding the Right Fit

As we have discussed before, the employment programs at UCP operate under a presumption of employability. This is the understanding that there is meaningful work available for every individual that wants to work and that every individual deserves the opportunity to have employment at a level that meets their skills—regardless of disability, the need for support and accommodation or economic circumstances. Each client that participates in employment through UCP comes to work with dedication and pride in their ability to support themselves and be a contributing member of their community. The key to success is to match the individual’s abilities and personal preferences to an employer’s needs. In order to ensure success, UCP has a stratified programs, which provides work opportunities at the level best suited for the individual.

In the Organizational Workshop, individuals who need more assistance with daily care or more in-depth supervision are placed in positions at UCP’s on-site organizational workshop. Client employees do piece-rate work with supervision of UCP staff. UCP contracts with local businesses to bring in confidential shredding, sorting and light assembly work.

Individuals with a higher skill level may be placed at a Supported Employment site at a local business. UCP contracts with local businesses to provide work opportunities for clients based on individual ability and preference. Supported Employment work may include customer service, clerical/general office tasks or light industrial work. Individuals work as a member of a client team lead by a site supervisor who is a UCP staff member. Work adjustment periods are available, if necessary, to assist individuals in adapting to work schedules and new demands. Site supervisors at each employment site provide guidance and support clients as needed. Client employees in supported employment are paid by UCP, but work in the community.

Individuals with competitive-level skills are given supports to obtain jobs available in the community, termed Individual Placements at UCP. Once employed, a job coach provides support and follow-up as needed. This includes not only support for the individual, but also addresses the concerns of the employer, including acclimation into the corporate culture, accommodations and benefits. Client employees in individual community placements are hired and paid by the employer.

Vocational Services is built on essential best practices for vocational rehabilitation including involving the individual to the fullest extent possible and creating individualized employment goals for each person. The program focuses on providing clients with opportunities for self-determination and empowerment where the individual is fully involved in the process of setting their own goals for employment. Through career exploration with a job counselor, individuals discover or learn to more formally articulate talents and skills that they possess and explore different careers and interests through paper assessment, career counseling, informational interviewing, job shadowing and on-the-job training.  Job coaches and site supervisors provide work-based learning including exposing the individual to different types of positions for job awareness and matching (job shadowing and informational interviewing), on-the-job training and situational assessments in actual work environments. Staff also support the employer by ensuring that the client employee is completing their work in a satisfactory manner and time, as well as working with the employer and other employees to create an inclusive work environment.

If you or someone you know would like more information on participating in either the Organizational Employment or Community Employment Programs please contact Sharon Meixner at (216) 791-8363, ext. 261 or smeixner@ucpcleveland.org.

If you own or work at a local business that is interested in becoming a partner agency, visit our For Businesses page.

Companies who utilize UCP’s employment services report an increase in employee morale and a boost to company culture and diversity.  Contact UCP to learn about tax credits and other benefits for your organization. Learn about some of our current partners.

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