Customized Employment Change, Inc (Carroll FY 18 Annual)

Story Behind the Curve

Disconnected or opportunity youth, who happen to also have a disability tend to be unemployed at a rate of almost 30%, as opposed to the average of 10% for nondisabled youth.  When youth with disabilities are employed, they tend to work less than 20 hours per week and are often assigned to jobs that fit employer needs, without taking into account the skills, desires, and support systems available for youth with disabilities.  Carroll County data suggests that those who leave post-secondary education at age 21 have an employment rate of less than 40%, and there is no data collected regarding how many hours they are actually working.  Disconnected youth who may have mental health and or substance use issues often struggle to maintain employment and face significant barriers, including transportation required to address their mental health and substance use, poverty or limited access to resources, and housing instability.  

  • Change, Inc. provides the Customized Employment program.
  • DORS, CCPS, CCYSB's Connecting Youth Program  and BERC provide referrals
Action Plan

FY 19

  • Keeping caseload for CE to 5 individuals per employment specialist in order to allow for intense focus on fidelity to the model and up to 4-6 hours per week per client of direct support.
  • More targeted recruitment with the school system to identify transitioning students who are not employed
  • Partner with DORS to identify additional 18-21 years old that are seeking employment but are not enrolled in CCPS Post-Secondary Program
  • Engage in more persistent follow-up with disconnected youth and their families to engage them in Customized Employment.

FY 21:

  • Plan to address fidelity: Addressing assessment and intake strategy to better determine participant motivation to complete the program.  Partner with the job seeker's team to increase awareness of the importance of following each best practice step of the customized employment process.
  • Plan to address participant success:  Strengthening partnerships with families by formalizing team meetings, reallocating resources to add virtual service delivery, and utilizing an Employment Specialist who is fully dedicated to the target population. The Employment Specialist is ACRE certified and has experience working with individuals with significant barriers to employment including mental health and trauma.
Program Summary
Customized Employment, which began in FY 18, provides an intensive 1:1 job employment development process for youth with significant barriers to employment, including emotional and developmental disabilities.  This program is available to youth who have previously been unsuccessful at connecting to long-term or stable employment or have not been able to find jobs that lift them out of poverty, due to the deep barriers they face.  Customized employment builds on social and community capital while allowing youth the opportunity to explore their natural skills and talents, as well as fully examine jobs and careers that meet their conditions for success.  ).  As an alternative to “placing” a youth in a position found for them, Customized Employment provides intensive support to assist youth in matching their skills and interests with the needs of employers to create a good “job match.” This approach provides greater sustainability of employment and overall satisfaction for the youth and the employer.   As youth transition into work, job coaching and supports are designed to fade as youth build self-advocacy skills.
Target Population

FY 19:CE will serve youth will developmental, behavioral or intellectual disabilities who are leaving the post-secondary school system without being employed or enrolled in higher education.  In addition, disconnected youth who have significant barriers to employment, outside of a developmental disability, and are participating in the Connecting Youth in Carroll program, are also being served using the customized employment model.  This includes youth who have transitioned out of CCPS with a high-school diploma, but have not moved on to work or school and are identified by the school system as at-risk for disconnection and or having known barriers to employment. 

Promising Practice/Model/EBP Employed
Local Highlight

Taylor completed the discovery and informational interview process of customized employment which focused on exploring three themes: Criminal justice, Legal system, and Forensic photography.  His discovery process also included exploring courthouses and mediation training opportunities within the geographical regions where he could find the most success.  He also used the discovery phase to learn how to use public transportation, as he hopes to one day live in Washington DC.  Taylor was able to get realistic pictures of the criminal justice field by attending four informational interviews: a ride along with a Westminster City Police Officer, interviewing a retired FBI agent, interviewing a Criminal Attorney, and a family law attorney.  

Following this process, Taylor and his employment specialist created a job development plan using his three these and focusing on using the networks and connections he established through his informational interviews.  Using this method, Taylor was able to interview and was ultimately hired for a full-time position with the Circuit Court of Baltimore County as a Judicial Clerk making $17.50 per hour. 

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