By David Esteppe
To address one of the most fulfilling of meaningful daily activities for individuals with IDD, a Customized Employment grant has been awarded to eight Community Rehabilitative Provider agencies in West Virginia.
Open Doors for the Developmentally Challenged, with an office in Lewisburg and a satellite office in Summersville, is one of the eight agencies in West Virginia receiving the grant.
Achieving competitive and integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and educating employers about working with individuals with IDD, is the goal of a grant given by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) by way of the Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF).
BBHHF supports evidence-based practices that promote social and emotional well-being, prevention approaches, person-centered interventions and self-directed and recovery-driven support services.
Community Support Services (CSS) are meaningful daily activities, such as job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking or creative endeavors.
Customized Employment provides community supports to increase the likelihood of meaningful, competitive (minimum wage or above wages), integrated employment (people with and people without disabilities working side by side doing the same work) by supporting both sides of the labor force.
For the job candidate, the process considers the whole person. What are the individual’s skills, interests, abilities, and conditions necessary for successful employment? For employers, customized employment allows a business to examine its specific workforce needs. both ongoing and intermittent, and fulfill those needs with a well-matched employee.
Carnegie Hall Facilities Manager Allan Sizemore has found working with people with IDD for over 20 years to be very rewarding. He suggests that employers consider that often the reward in working with IDD individuals is seeing someone come to work every day, not for a paycheck, but because they love working and love the work they perform. He also finds it rewarding to watch individuals accomplish goals and achieve a quality of life they would not have if they couldn’t work.
“Sometimes people think individuals with IDD are being given paychecks without completing the work tasks. There might be some of that in places, but overwhelmingly that is not what happens. The necessary work is accomplished by the individual and employer’s needs are met,” added Sizemore.