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In the past, finding and utilizing resource tools when it comes to employment and adults with disabilities has been a challenge. However, with the initiative of Employment First the past couple of years has shown a different story. Resources for individuals, families, county boards of DD and providers have become much more readily available. In this article I will highlight two such resources that have recently come into the spotlight.


Employment First Job Seekers Guide

The Job Seekers Guide is a wonderful step by step journey for those individuals with disabilities seeking employment and their families. There are two primary sections: Learn and Tools. The Learn section contains

8 Modules to help you through the path to community employment and Step-by-step instructions

The Tools section contains downloadable resources to help the seeker and family member along the way as well as step by step instructions. Both sections reflect on commonly asked questions such as ‘What is Employment First?’, ‘What Kind of Job Should I Get?’, ‘Who Can Help?’. But it also ask whether the individual is still a student in school and how technology can assist.

In my opinion the Job Seekers Guide puts an enormous amount of resources right at the finger tips of individuals seeking competitive employment, their family members and advocates. It is thorough, concise and deliberate. I also believe this resource would be vitally important to county boards of DD staff and provider staff alike. As the state of Ohio continues to promote the premise that all individuals with a disability are employable, this is a great first step in answering questions and putting the information at the individuals fingertips.

Joint Guidance on Referrals for Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Recently highlighted in the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Pipeline and directly on the Employment First website, a joint guidance resource regarding referrals for Vocational Rehabilitation was released. This joint guidance resource specifically targets staff at local county boards of DD and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff. It was developed through the Employment First partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD). The referral process for BVR or Vocational Rehabilitation with OOD in the past was seen as tedious or confusing. However, with the Employment First initiative and partnership with OOD the process has become much more sound, bridging the gap between two separate agencies. The joint guidance resource was developed to

facilitate the referral process for vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The document includes information on how to utilize VR & HCBS waiver funding for employment services, when to refer an individual to OOD, and eligibility information to be included in the referral. I believe this resource does a great job at reiterating the purpose of Employment First, the definition of Competitive Employment and breaking down the uncertainty when it comes to making an OOD referral versus utilizing HCBS waiver funding for Community Employment. This resource may be intended, primarily, for professional staff, however I believe it is a great tool for individuals, family members and advocates when it comes to understanding the intricacy of funding and service provision.

In conclusion resources are only good if known about and used often. As Ohio continues to strive toward employment for all individuals with disabilities, resources and understanding all that is available will be critical.  I am hopeful that highlighting these two employment resources engages you to share with someone else as well!

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