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Job Squad Expands Program to Help Disabled Workers Find Jobs

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on November 13, 2014 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Backed by an $80,000 state grant, a local job service is expanding a program to find jobs for individuals with disabilities who want to work in meaningful, good-paying jobs.
 
 The Community Economic Development Program (CEDP), administered in this area by Job Squad Inc. of Bridgeport, not only provides employment opportunities for disabled workers but also improves the socio-economic well-being of the region, according to Brenda Hellwig, Job Squad’s executive director.
 
“This program is unique to the community,” Hellwig said. “These are real jobs with real pay. The CED program fosters opportunities for businesses, communities and individuals, thereby enhancing the quality of lives of people everywhere.”
 
The program uses what’s called “customized employment” to secure jobs for individuals with disabilities. “Customized Employment matches the strengths, conditions and interests of a job candidate with the business needs of an employer,” she said. “It utilizes an individualized approach to employment planning and job development — one person at a time and one employer at a time.”
 
Career counselors meet with job seekers, their families and friends to learn the job seeker’s interests, goals and places where they spend their time. They use this information to develop an employment plan for each individual.
 
Customized employment can take several forms. For example, under “task reassignment,” some of the job tasks of an incumbent worker are reassigned to a new employee, allowing the incumbent worker to focus on the critical functions of his or her job.
 
Or, an existing job description could be modified to contain one or more, but not all, of the tasks from the original job description – a practice called “job carving.”
 
“Job sharing” results when two or more people share the tasks and responsibilities of a job based on each other's strengths.
 
Job coaches specialize in assisting individuals with disabilities to learn and accurately carry out job duties. They provide one-on-one training tailored to the needs of the employee.
 
Job Coaches may first perform a job analysis to identify the job duties, then develop a specific plan for training the employee to work more and more independently until he or she becomes completely self-sufficient and able to perform job duties accurately and effectively without assistance.
 
“The best outcomes occur when a new job is created,” Hellwig said.
 
CEDP services are provided in Clay, Doddridge, Harrison, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Taylor and Upshur counties. “The program has been running successfully out of our Bridgeport office for a few years,” Hellwig said. “The grant we received from West Virginia Health and Human Resources will enable us to expand our services into the Charleston area.”
 
Formed in 1984, Job Squad is a private, nonprofit organization and community rehabilitation program whose mission is to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
 
“We provide workers to fulfill community needs and at the same time provide our clients with the economic and psychological benefits of meaningful employment,” Hellwig said. “The dignity, responsibility and economic independence resulting from gainful employment is one of the most effective ways of enhancing self-reliance, changing attitudes, reducing dependency on public benefits and promoting community acceptance of people with disabilities.”
 
Job Squad matches workers with the specific needs of participating businesses in the community and has contracts with state; federal and commercial employees for a variety of services such as custodial, mail presort and grounds maintenance. Some workers are even self-employed.
 
To find its job seekers, Job Squad conducts outreach activities to recruit individuals with disabilities who want to work, Hellwig said. “Through on-the-job training and supportive and therapeutic intervention, we strive to ensure successful work experiences, whether at a business in the community, on a service contract or with their own small business.”
 
Information about Job Squad is available by calling (304) 848-0850 or by visiting the web site at info@jobsquadinc.org.



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