Supported Employment employs the “Coach” model to address employment, a major issue in the Glades. As reported in The Palm Beach Post in 2009, unemployment in the Glades was at 29%, and real unemployment approached 40%, levels nearly four times higher than the coastal regions of the county. In the subsequent years the real unemployment rate for the area has improved slightly but has not enjoyed the resurgence of employment enjoyed by the rest of Palm Beach County. Major employers have down-sized and the availability of entry-level employment for the individuals served by The Arc of the Glades is virtually non-existent. Whatever employment opportunity does become available to people with disabilities has such a disproportionately high level of competition, given that 4 in 10 are unemployed, that they are doubly disadvantaged. A candidate with a developmental disability has fewer opportunities in the Glades, even before factoring in the barrier of the disability.
The Arc’s Supported Employment Program is a natural progression from the Facility-based Program that utilizes the prevocational and vocational training the individual has acquired. The Coach and candidate identify appropriate and appealing employment opportunities, complete the application and interview process, and assure the employer that The Arc”s staff will supplement the productivity of the individual while in the training phase. The Arc guarantees the employer a full day’s productivity as the client learns the job, thus leveling the playing field and improving the likelihood of success. As the new employee develops the skills specific to the job, the Coach is able to progressively withdraw until contact is limited to problem intervention, additional training for promotion and regular follow-along visits for maintenance and support.
Data from The Arc of the United States reveals better attendance, greater job satisfaction and longer tenure among individuals employed who have developmental disabilities when compared to the non-disabled population. The Supported Employment Program helps the individual identify the job, secure the job and succeed in the job. With nearly two decades of experience, the employers in the Glades have developed a trust in The Arc of the Glades and a personal knowledge of the benefits of employing individuals through the Supported Employment Program.
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