Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"Making it Work for Everyone": Article in Baker City Herald

Baker City Herald Article on Proposed Settlement Posted
The Baker City Herald has posted part one of a three-part series on Employment First, Sheltered Workshops and the proposed settlement.
You can read the article here: http://www.bakercityherald.com/Local-News/Making-it-work-for-everyone

Friday, December 4, 2015

Melissa's Success Story: New from Employment First

Melissa Carroll, 42, knew what kind of job she wanted.

Melissa works at Café Yumm East in Bend.
“I told them, ‘I want to work in a restaurant. I like talking to people and making tips,” Melissa said.

Melissa was in a sheltered workshop setting. She worked with her service coordinator and with Cortney Gibson, an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) specialist with the Bend Vocational Rehabilitation office, on finding a good community job match. She started working at Café Yumm in May 2015.

“She volunteered at Café Yumm to see if it was a good fit,” said Erica Drake, a regional employment specialist with the Office of Developmental Disability Services (ODDS). Erica helped Melissa in her previous role as a service coordinator at the Deschutes County Developmental Disability Office.

“She made it clear she wanted to work in a restaurant, be around people, and make tips.”

Kloe Olkowski is manager of the east Bend location of Café Yumm. She said Melissa’s hard work and loyalty has been invaluable at the café.

“We had only been open four months and had a lot of turnover during that time,” Kloe said. “I need an employee who wants to work and wants to be here and works super hard. Melissa’s enthusiasm and work ethic has influenced the other employees to bring their best to work.”

Melissa’s job involves clearing and cleaning tables and bringing trays and dishes back to the kitchen. She also does food prep, including rinsing and sorting the organic black beans that Café Yumm includes with so many of its dishes.

“I’m so popular with the customers and the other employees,” Melissa said, laughing. “I’ve got so many friends here. One of the girls, she calls me ‘chica.’ It’s my nickname.”

In addition to working at Café Yumm, Melissa also is in Special Olympics’ bowling league.

“I got a $20 tip the other day,” Melissa said, proudly nodding. “I put it in the bank. I’m saving to get a special bowling ball that’s easier for my hands.”

Melissa, who celebrates her birthday on Christmas, is having a birthday party at the bowling alley. She said she wants her Café Yumm coworkers to join her.

“I want you to come and meet my other friends,” Melissa said to Kloe.

Melissa (left) and her manager Kloe at Café Yumm East in Bend.

Melissa said she has some advice for people who experience I/DD and may be fearful about working in the community.

“Be brave,” she said. “Be yourself. Say what you like to do. Like me, I said, ‘I want to work in a restaurant.’ And boom, I got it.”

A slideshow of Melissa at work is available at: https://flic.kr/s/aHskk8rJjH

Thank you all for your continued involvement, support, and advocacy for services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oregon. If you have comments or other questions, please email them to employment.first@state.or.us

Monday, November 30, 2015

Employment First Video: Jason's Success Story

Watch Jason's success story linked in the article below by Employment First/Mike Maley. Enjoy!

I am pleased to present our first video success story produced by the DHS Employment First team. I want to encourage our stakeholders and partners around the state to share this video through your networks. I especially would like families and guardians of those who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to see this video.

The video portrays Marilyn, a mother of seven children from Eugene, and her son Jason, who experiences cerebral palsy. Jason has worked for nine years delivering food to mall employees at Valley River Center. Marilyn has another adult child, Rachel, who also experiences significant disabilities. Rachel and Jason both work successfully in community jobs with support from Alternative Work Concepts, a nonprofit employment agency for people with significant multiple disabilities – physical as well as cognitive.

This video is focused on Marilyn, a parent who believes strongly that her children should be fully integrated into community life. Again, the video is at: https://youtu.be/znSUQCzEG0Q

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lane v Brown Community Forum comes to Pendleton October 29, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

September Baker County Employment First Hosted by Step Forward

The September Baker County Employment First Team gathering met at Step Forward Activities building in Baker City.
The team was able to tour the facility and see the activities/work training and contract work they are doing. The team met to go over strategies for continued community partnerships for job experiences and employment possibilities.
ROCCO'S Family Network was there to share their vision and contribute to the ongoing process. VR, New Directions/DD services and brokerage were there as well as Youth Transition Program specialists to add to the discussion as well.
Thanks to everyone for what you do in Baker County!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Malheur County Employment First September Meeting

Malheur Enmployment First met in September at the  DHS offices in Ontario. There were representatives from VR, CDDP, Lifeways Mental Health Supported Employment, Brokerage, residential and employment agencies, School YTP and Treasure Valley Community College - all coming together to unite with the purpose to see integrated competitive employment for adults in Malheur County. Theresa Knowles, Employment Specialist for Eastern Oregon from ODDS shared on Employment Path Services and there was discussion about collaborative roles between agencies. A big topic of discussion surrounded the Career Center services of TVCC and student disability services.
The next meeting is to be hosted by TVCC to see the campus and expand the conversation surrounding community college/post-secondary education and training.
Thank you Malheur EF for a great day!

Friday, August 28, 2015

VR holds annual in-service
Vocational Rehabilitation held its annual in-service event on Aug. 12-13 at the Salem Convention Center. The theme was “Collaborating and Communicating to Improve Employment Outcomes.” The theme reflects the major initiatives VR is directly involved in that are driving change in how they serve people, not only in VR but with its partners including Employment First, the Office of Developmental Disability Services (ODDS), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and workforce systems.

Employment First policies and philosophies were embedded throughout the in-service. The event was divided into two tracks: youth transition and collaboration. More than 340 participants attended and spent one day on each track. Keith Ozols, VR’s Statewide Coordinator of the Youth Transition Program (YTP), said the theme of the in-service this year was to show how to capitalize on collaboration. “We really focused on how we are breaking down the silos agencies and working together to improve employment outcomes,” he said.

The first track focused on youth transition. The panel in the first session of this track discussed changes related to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the 2015 Executive Order 15-01 and new Medicaid Waiver employment services. Presenters included Ozols with VR, along with Mitch Kruska from ODE and Acacia McGuire Anderson, field services manager with ODDS.

During this two-hour session, the eight Transition Network Facilitators led the group in regional discussions around what is working in the system, what areas need help, and goals for the coming year.

“On the positive side, we are seeing a lot more collaboration,” Ozols said. “We heard from VR counselors that they are working much more closely with service coordinators, personal agents and educators. More people are coming to the table.”

About 10 employers and staff members received awards during lunch both days. The Department of Human Services’ Imaging and Records Management Services (IRMS) was one of the employers recognized for its recent hiring of people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thank you all for your continued involvement, support, and advocacy for services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oregon. If you have comments or other questions, please email them to employment.first@state.or.us.