By Stephen E. Morris
One of the proudest moments in peoples’ lives is when they land their first job. There’s a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. They take on the glow of a winner knowing that they can finally start to make it on their own.
For a person with an intellectual or development disability (IDD), a first job is an even more significant step towards independence and accomplishment. According to the Arc, the largest community-based organization advocating for people with IDD, the majority of adults with IDD are either unemployed or underemployed, despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work. So, a job is not only a path to greater independence for these workers, it’s the accomplishment of hurdling a barrier that is set much higher for them.
Helping people with IDD find meaningful employment is an important part of what we do at Favarh. When we’re successful, which is often, we also take on that same glow. We not only help our workers achieve greater independence, we help change the perceptions of employers, co-workers, and sometimes the general public about the genuine contributions that people with IDD can make in the workplace.
We have two approaches to employment assistance at Favarh:
- Group Supported Employment (GSE) is when we provide a job coach to supervise and support four workers at an area business;
- Individual Supported Employment (ISE) is when we help a worker find and keep a typical or “competitive” job by providing assistance such as career counseling, job searching, and on-the-job training. These workers often become completely independent or require minimal amounts of follow-along support.
Favarh supports 110 GSE workers at businesses throughout greater Hartford, Connecticut. They’re making a real impact on production, workflow, and efficiency.
We do this in part by assisting businesses identify job tasks for our workers. For instance, there are often repetitive tasks at which our workers thrive. This frees up higher-paid employees to perform more intricate tasks that are more commensurate with their skillsets, increasing efficiency, productivity and morale as higher skilled employees are more satisfied with tasks that match their skills.
Once Favarh GSE workers learn a job they frequently become the fastest and most reliable workers at the business. On top of that, our workers’ enthusiasm, friendliness, and work ethic rubs off on everyone!
Favarh GSE workers excel at things like parts assembly and packaging in manufacturing, fronting shelves and cleaning aisles at warehouses, food prep, housekeeping, commercial laundry work, back-office work, copying and scanning, and much more.
Among the advantages for employers is that Favarh handles the payroll, taxes, workers compensation and other required insurances in the GSE model. We invoice the companies based on the productivity of the crew members. We monitor productivity, quality, and provide all necessary job training. Meanwhile, companies using ISE hire these more independent employees directly.
Favarh may help the employee with the application and job-interview process and we help with the initial job training. We’re always just a phone call away and our success can be measured in the length of employment. Some of our ISE placements have lasted 50 years!
Favarh workers are some of the most hard-working and dedicated employees that businesses will ever hire. Companies quickly learn that when people with IDD are given a chance and have the proper supports, they make some of the most productive employees.
This improves efficiency, enhances diversity, and brings positive energy to the workplace.
Hiring Favarh workers is not just good will … its good business!
About the Author
Stephen Collins is executive director of Favarh, a Canton, CT, based nonprofit that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.