DID YOU KNOW: There are Many Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities?

By Jim Frazier, Public Policy Director, The Arc / UCP California Collaboration

Hiring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be an excellent opportunity for businesses to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, and improve their bottom line.

Here are some steps to consider when hiring individuals with disabilities:

Educate yourself: Learn about different types of disabilities and the specific needs of each individual you hire. Understand the legal requirements and accommodations that may be necessary for their employment.

  • Create an inclusive workplace: Ensure that your workplace is accessible and inclusive for individuals with disabilities. This may involve making physical modifications, providing assistive technology, or implementing flexible work arrangements.
  • Partner with disability organizations: Collaborate with local disability organizations or vocational rehabilitation agencies that specialize in supporting individuals with disabilities. They can help you find qualified candidates and provide ongoing support and training.
  • Adapt the recruitment process: Modify your recruitment process to be more inclusive. This may involve using plain language in job descriptions, providing alternative application methods, or conducting more relaxed and supportive interviews.
  • Provide training and support: Offer training and support to both the individual with disabilities and their coworkers. This can include disability awareness training, job coaching, and ongoing support to ensure a successful integration into the workplace.
  • Focus on abilities and strengths: Instead of focusing on limitations, emphasize the abilities and strengths of individuals with disabilities. Identify tasks and roles that align with their skills and provide opportunities for growth and development.
  • Foster a supportive work environment: Encourage a supportive work environment where all employees feel valued and respected. Promote teamwork, provide clear communication, and address any concerns or issues promptly.
  • Evaluate and adjust: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your hiring and support processes for individuals with disabilities. Make adjustments as needed to ensure continuous improvement and success.

By hiring individuals with disabilities, businesses can tap into a talented and dedicated workforce while promoting diversity and inclusion.

DID YOU KNOW?: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Jim Frazier, Public Policy Director, The Arc/UCP California Collaboration

Each year in October, organizations throughout the United States recognize the contributions of  America’s workers with disabilities by highlighting supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit both the employer and employees. This year the National Office of Disability Employment Policy has chosen “Advancing Access and Equity” as the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (#NDEAM2023).

Existing data makes a strong business case of the many benefits of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities, including high retention rates, low turnover, incentives and tax credits to assist employee with job training and supports, higher productivity and increased morale among co-workers.  Despite the many known benefits of an inclusive workforce, in 2022 the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that “the unemployment rate for persons with a disability continues to be about twice as high as the rate for persons without a disability.” To address the workforce disparity, there are federal and state incentive programs that encourage employers to create work opportunities for people with disabilities and embrace diversity.

    • Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): The credit amount an employer may claim, which ranges from $1,200 to $9,600 per eligible employee, depends on the wages paid to the employee and the number of hours the employee works, and is determined
    • State Employment First Policy: The Department of Developmental Services has a Paid Internship Program that offers service providers a tiered bonus incentive to help place, train and retain interns with disabilities based on 30-day, 60-day and one-year milestones.
    • State Department of Rehabilitation Tax Credits and Incentives: Training subsidies are available to businesses to offset the cost of providing training to a job seeker who is a DOR consumer. Generally, DOR offers employers up to $1,500, but more than that amount may be provided if the consumer needs more training than usual, or the position has a higher level of skill requirement.

Members of the disability community are an underutilized group of talented and dedicated individuals. Although 2021-22 California budget represents an all-time high in the amount of funding invested for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, very few service providers and businesses are utilizing these incentive programs. We need to further engage the business community by raising awareness of these tax credits and incentives. They are fantastic opportunities that benefit the entire workforce.

This month, during NDEAM you can be an integral part of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities by sharing the incentive programs and your success stories with others.

People with Developmental Disabilities Make Great Employees

Joshua said it was hard to get a job at first because he wasn’t given a chance to prove himself.  Once he was hired, his co-workers valued his contribution.  According to the US Census Bureau, only 19% of working age adults with developmental disabilities are employed. The majority of those employed are working only part-time or earning sub-minimum wage, leading to a disproportionate number of people with disabilities living in poverty and seclusion from their community. For those who are non-disabled, the employment rate is 64%.

For National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) we want to raise awareness about the many benefits of creating an inclusive and diverse workplace.

Research conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) reveals that the majority of workplace accommodations cost nothing to make, which is the most common concern expresses by businesses.

A recent article in Forbes noted the following “Seven reasons why hiring people with disabilities is good for business:

  • Improves the overall bottom line
  • Reduced turnover rate
  • Discover untapped potential
  • Improve company culture
  • Expands consumer markets
  • Financial incentives
  • Meets government requirements

People with disabilities contribute to an organization’s success by bringing unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace.

Joshua’s employment success is featured in a series of personal stories by The Arc of the United States. There are many ways to get on a path to employment through training and placement agencies.  Contact your local regional center or Arc affiliate to learn more about how you can access employment training and placement services in your area, or to make your business more diverse and inclusive.

WATCH VIDEO: https://youtu.be/ElylSTb3OxY 

Jaymn’s Journey and Path to Employment

Jaymn first came into contact with The Arc of San Diego at a Resource Fair which was put on by San Diego Unified School District’s TRACE (high school transition) program. Jaymn had recently finished the program and knew he wanted to work independently out in the community, but knew he would need assistance in achieving this goal. The job he desired was a Mess Attendant position at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, which has the largest mess hall on the west coast. This was going to be a challenge for Jaymn, since he had not had a job that was longer than a couple of hours, a few times a week. The job that Jaymn desired was full time, with a high demand in productivity. Having limited work experience, Jaymn knew he would require additional support if he was to be successful in this role. The Arc of San Diego was able to provide that to him through the Individual Placement Program.

Through the Individual Placement Program, The Arc of San Diego paired Jaymn with a job coach who assisted Jaymn with applying for the job, taking a tour, doing an interview and completing his medical and background clearances. When Jaymn first started, he struggled with learning the military policies and procedures of the mess hall and the proper steps for each of his job tasks. He also struggled with working at a consistent pace and learning what a sense of urgency meant. He found it difficult to keep up with the high volume dishes while learning how to socialize with his peers. Jaymn often fell behind when a large quantity of dishes would come on the conveyor, causing him to become overwhelmed, frustrated and confused.

With the support of his job coach, Jamyn developed a system to help with the organization of the dishes on the conveyor. This system has helped prevent Jaymn from getting overwhelmed when there is a high volume of dishes to be cleaned. Now, Jaymn is excited, confident and always comes to work with a positive attitude, enthusiasm and a smile. Through the support of The Arc of San Diego’s Employment Services, Jaymn has been able to use his paycheck to purchase things he wants and needs and is able to live a more fulfilling and independent life. In addition to having a job that he enjoys, Jaymn is active in The Arc of San Diego’s Our Place Wellness Enrichment program on Saturdays where he enjoys socializing with his peers and participating in fitness classes such as Zumba.

Angelica’s Journey and Path to Employment

In light of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we would like to share Angelica’s journey with you and celebrate her for being nominated for her accomplishments. As you will see she has worked hard and is very proud of herself. She attends Community Vocational Services Inc. which is a Person-Centered program in Fresno, Ca. Her support team says “We are so proud to showcase our shining star Angelica she has excelled and accomplished many achievements in our program and we will continue to cheer her on as we do all consumers we serve.”

Angelica was born and raised in Fresno County by her adopted parents, along with 3 brothers and 2 sisters. She attended Central High School and graduated from Bullard High School. Angelica says, “I am most proud of myself for graduating from Bullard.”

When Angelica arrived at CVS Inc. she was right out of high school; she was struggling with depression, anxiety, personal boundaries, low self-esteem and repetitive trips to the PAC Unit. Each day was different, the highs and lows affected Angelica’s ability to focus, gain trust, affected her listening skills, attention to detail, developing and maintaining friendships as well as growing to be a capable independent adult.

Despite many obstacles and a long road ahead of her, Angelica made the decision to work hard to gain the skills necessary to grow emotionally, vocationally and physically. With a great support team and plan in place Angelica has excelled in so many areas, she communicates her needs appropriately, is more independent, and she has become confident. She is an intelligent, quick witted and fun person to be around with a great sense of humor.

Vocationally she continues to grow; Angelica has worked on her focus, attention to detail, listening skills and follow through. She has a strong work ethic and enjoys being helpful with peers as they ask or need it. Angelica currently works in janitorial settings, retail stockroom, office and house cleaning and Grocery Outlet where she has learned to stock shelves, scan prices, change prices as directed, stock and rotate frozen foods as well as produce. She has shown her ability as a role model and mentor with her job skills and ethics.

Angelica has recently started the Community Integrated Employment (CIE) program at Community Vocational Services Inc. Her case manager and trainer Justin stated “I have seen Angelica’s growth and development in the CIE program. Angelica has chosen to be a part of CIE, which will allow her to achieve the skills necessary in the career of her choice. Through CIE, we have administered several different assessments to see where Angelica is with her current skills. She is looking forward to building those skills and moving past barriers as needed. Her end goal for the CIE program is to obtain employment in childcare, specifically working with infants. Angelica has expressed that she enjoys learning new things about childcare and is excited for her future in this field. We are excited to see Angelica’s progress in her journey to her career choice and we feel she will be a great role model and mentor for what Community Integrated Employment represents to the I/DD population.”

When Angelica was notified of her nomination from CVS for her accomplishments and growth, she was very excited and proud. When asked about her bio, she wanted to include everything that held her back; she said “no matter what mental health stuff you have, you can still work hard and achieve your goals.

There is no doubt Angelica will continue this path of healing and growing into a well-adjusted, happy independent woman with the job of her dreams. Keep reaching for the stars Angelica, we are very proud of all the accomplishments you have worked hard to achieve and maintain.