Program Feature: Brockton Employment ServicesAugust 16, 2012 12:19 PM
Brockton Employment Service (BES) supports adults with developmental disabilities and/or acquired brain injuries to find and maintain employment at minimum wage or above. All individuals served by BES are referred from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), UMASS Medical School, or Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). Our philosophy is that all people deserve to earn at least minimum wage and work in fully integrated community settings. We believe that everyone has talent and the ability to contribute to society. Work is a vital aspect of being a part of the community, and provides a sense of self-worth and personal satisfaction that should be available to all people, regardless of disability status.
BES currently has 38 participants. Of these 38 individuals, 24 (63%) are employed at minimum wage or above in jobs such as retail, childcare, human services, cleaning, and customer service. 43% of the program’s participants that aren’t working are actively volunteering. Several of our participants come to BES without prior work experience, and volunteering is one way that individuals are able to learn about different industries and gain job skills. Individuals served also gain job skills by working one-on-one with their Employment Specialist, or by attending BES’s vocational training and career development classes.
BES’s career development classes help participants determine what types of jobs and industries are a good fit for them. Topics include self-awareness, career exploration, and job retention. Participants are given exercises to help them identify their values, aspirations, and talents. There are also plenty of opportunities for guided group discussions and role-playing that prepare participants for job interviews, handling conflict in the workplace, and other types of problem-solving. BES’s vocational training classes are designed to teach skills that are specific to certain job types. These skills include cashiering, office administration, food services, customer service, and cleaning/maintenance. During these classes, classroom learning is coupled with hands-on practice, and everyone has the opportunity to use their new skills. This includes activities such as cooking mini-quiches from scratch, using a real cash register to complete role-play transactions, and repairing a running toilet. AND – starting in September, a limited number of slots will be made available in these classes for the greater developmental disability/acquired brain injury community. That means any individual with a developmental disability or acquired brain injury will be able to take any of our classes without enrolling in the BES program. For more information, please call (508) 587-6313.
Of course, the real focus of BES is jobs! Individuals served are encouraged to start looking for a job (called “job developing”) as soon as they enroll with the program. There are a wealth of job-hunting resources available including the Internet, job fairs, and Brockton’s one-stop career center, CareerWorks. Employment Specialists work with individuals served to navigate these systems and find the best fit available. Employment Specialists are also very instrumental in helping individuals plan their careers, thinking about short-term and long-term goals. They help individuals served determine what their dream job is and what steps they can take to make those dreams a reality. Sometimes these steps include post-secondary education, GED-attainment, and/or taking a job that can be a stepping stone into that dream job. And, of course, sometimes a dream job may not be attainable. In this case, Employment Specialists strive to help the individual find a close approximation that satisfies their needs and personal goals.
Once an individual begins a job, BES’s Employment Specialists provide job coaching. Job coaching can include anything from creating a detailed task analysis, to meeting with managers to request a reasonable accommodation, to helping an individual create a system to make sure they get their weekly schedule. The amount of job coaching a person receives is determined on an individual basis. Starting on the first day of work, Employment Specialists work to develop natural workplace supports, like co-workers, supervisors, and reminder signs, so the Employment Specialist can fade back and the individual served can be fully integrated into their workplace.
BES is excited about sharing our success stories and information about supported employment. Stay tuned for updates over the coming months!