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What is Integrated Employment?

Obtaining a job and having a way to contribute to our community is an expectation and rite of passage for working age people. Typically, when meeting someone for the first time, you’ll ask, “What do you do?”   For most, working is a major avenue to meet friends and colleagues, gain greater economic power, grow our skills and most importantly allows us to contribute our skills to a greater cause bringing with it the satisfaction of accomplishment. At The Arc of Larimer County, we firmly believe that everyone with a disability should have the opportunity to have a job that is integrated and matches the person’s skills and interests. Multiple studies have found that people with disabilities, including significant disabilities, develop better work and self-care skills when in an integrated setting.  Furthermore, individuals with significant disabilities can lose skills when placed in segregated settings.

What is Integrated Employment?

When we say “integrated employment,” we follow the definition outlined by The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP): “Work paid directly by employers at the greater of minimum or prevailing wages with commensurate benefits, occurring in a typical work setting where the employee with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co-workers without disabilities, has an opportunity for advancement and job mobility, and is preferably engaged full time.”  You can learn more here.

4 key components to determine if a job is integrated:

  1. Employees with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co- workers without disabilities.  This does not include job coaching staff.
  2. The pay scale is at least minimum wage or at a prevailing wage.
  3. Employment supervisors are an employee of the business, as opposed to supervisors who are also considered providers or job coaches
  4. The work environment should reflect the average population.  About 20% of people have a disability and about 3% of people have intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

What Can I or someone I care for do to find integrated employment? 

Contact your local Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (D.V.R.) Office (970) 223-9823

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation assists individuals whose disabilities result in barriers to employment to succeed at work.  The services provided to any eligible individual are determined by their unique employment barriers their chosen employment goal, and individual circumstances through the following:

  • Evaluations and diagnostic testing to determine eligibility and services for individuals to obtain and maintain successful employment
  • Vocational counseling to assist individuals identify an appropriate vocational goal
  • Mental health counseling and physical rehabilitation through community partners to assist Individuals to become job ready
  • Training services: job coaching, academic tutoring, vocational training, on-the-job training, and job-seeking skills training
  • Interpreter, note taking and reader services for the blind, deaf, and deaf-blind
  • Assistive technology assessments
  • Job placement assistance
  • Support services such as transportation and daycare services to ensure job retention

When choosing an employment service provider or job coaching agency, ask them if their goals follows the 4 keys to Integrated Employment.

  • Employees with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co- workers without disabilities. This does not include job coaching staff.
  • The pay scale is at least minimum wage or at a prevailing wage.
  • Employment supervisors are an employee of the business, as opposed to supervisors who are also considered providers.
  • The work environment should reflect the average population.  About 20% of people have a disability and about 3% of people have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Head over to one of the Larimer County Workforce Center Locations:

Find your closest location here: http://larimerworkforce.org/about-us/locations-contact/

 The Workforce Center can support you create a job search plan and build connections so you won’t feel like you are navigating your journey alone. Here are some first steps for you to consider:

  • Register for one of their in-office workshops to connect with other job seekers and get more detailed information about creating your personal plan of action
  • Come to one of their offices and chat with a Career Consultant about your next steps.

Network:

  • Let the people in your circle know what kind of job you are looking for so they can help connect you with an employer who maybe be looking for the skills you have.

Volunteer:

  • Grow your skills in doing something you love and build a network of employers who can speak to your skills and give you a great recommendation!
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