Employment First Initiative helps find jobs for people with developmental disabilitiesWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. John Kasich’s Employment First Initiative helps people with developmental disabilities in Lucas County land jobs with local companies.
The initiative, created by an executive order signed in March 2012, changed how services are provided to people with developmental disabilities by making it a priority to expand employment opportunities for about 80,000 such individuals in Ohio.
The goal of the initiative is to enhance the individual’s self-determination and offer opportunities for greater wealth, quality of life and a sense of self-worth, said John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).
Lucas County was one of the counties selected by the state to suggest how the initiative will be implemented in the community. The emphasis is focused on job development with area businesses, said Sharon Helle, senior director of board services and supports for the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCDD).
“The initiative said we should look at employment first and help prepare them for that. It’s shifting the way we think about things. We are working together, collaborating with businesses and communities on the program,” Helle said.
The Employment First Initiative is a rehabilitation program that provides funds to help people in a sheltered workshop or day program to get jobs. The LCDD received a $25,000 grant from the Ohio DODD to support the program in fiscal year 2015.
“There are lots of benefits and positive results from this program,” Helle said.
Many employers who were having trouble filling entry-level jobs are finding LCDD’s pool of candidates a solution, she said. Research has shown that attendance is better and turnover is lower among people with developmental disabilities in the workforce, Helle reported.
“They can be a valuable addition to your workforce,” she said.
Kevin Tyree works as a merchandise associate at the Best Buy store on Monroe Street. He stocks product, cleans displays, and changes the signs for merchandise in the store. His experiences there have helped him gain confidence to keep branching out.
“I’m ready for another job,” Tyree said. “I have put in an application for maintenance work at the Toledo Zoo.”
“Diversity and inclusion are part of Best Buy’s culture to provide an open environment for everyone,” said Aaron Haury, general manager of the Monroe Street Best Buy store.
“You have to keep an open mind. They must be qualified like any other candidate for hire. It’s about finding the right fit for them. Sales isn’t usually right but stocking product works,” said Haury, who has worked for Best Buy for nine years.
More than 200 people in Lucas County have been helped through the efforts of the LCDD working with the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Ohio Department of Education, Department of Job and Family Services, Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services and Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission.
The LCDD is providing support for 89 people working jobs with local businesses and organizations and 111 people working in small groups at business locations while preparing 14 additional people searching for jobs in the community, Helle said.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities is a partner agency in the Employment First Initiative with the Ohio DODD.
For more information, visit www.ohioemploymentfirst.org.
Tags: Best Buy, developmental disabilities, DODD, Employment First Initiative, John Kasich, John Martin, Kevin Tyree, LCDD, Lucas County, Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities