Commencing in December of 2007, The Arc has developed and implemented the Employment Simulation Program. The Employment Simulation Program is open and available to all individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in western Palm Beach County. The Program identifies opportunities for individuals who have established employment as a desired outcome to serve at community not-for-profit organizations in small groups. The benefits are multifold. The individual develops the skills needed to acquire and maintain employment in a functional work environment (skill sets may include accepting supervision, timely reporting and attendance, adhering to health and safety requirements in the workplace, maintenance to task, etc.). Additionally, the individual develops a relationship with the host agency that translates into a prior work history reference on a resume’, something otherwise unavailable to these individuals. For the host agency, the access to volunteers and supervisory assistance is greatly desired in this agri-rural and very poor community, particularly in this period of economic hardship. With approximately 70% of the population at 150% of poverty or less, there are a disproportionate number of charitable social service organizations attempting to meet the needs of the community with very limited resources. These organizations benefit from the services of the program participants, as does the larger community by their assisting these agencies to meet their missions.
Census data shows approximately 30,000 residents in The Glades, the service area of The Arc. The prevalence of Intellectual Disability for a population of this size, according to The Arc of the United States is about 3%, or 900 individuals. Of those, 20% are of school age and receive services per P.L. 99-457, parts B & C, leaving 720. Roughly half of the affected population will be high functioning enough or have adequate natural supports to not require services, reducing the target service population to about 360 individuals. Currently The Arc serves less than 100, and there are no other provider agencies with these services in the area. Development of programs like the Employment Simulation Program is necessary to identify and expose these individuals to greater opportunities in the community at large.
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