No More Crumbs… Take a Time Out

Dwayne Ross provides On site Human Service Staff Development Training, Youth Development, Online Marketing and MLM information reviews, training & suggestions.

Have you seen the ads for Casinos? Well today I am sitting in one of the locations that may be transformed into a casino. Yes, America I’m here in the wonderful Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Flint-stone Maryland. The trees are a symphony of colors from the palest greens to the most robust reds and oranges you can imagine and it’s not as pretty as it was last year according to another traveler. I’m here to learn and improve the lives of those who are considered “disabled.”

As I looked over the workshop offerings I was drawn to the title; “Better Employment Outcomes through School Partnerships. The word “Partnerships” jumped off the page. I was able to see exactly how we all can help each other if we would just form partnerships and share information. Most of us in the field are “Lone Rangers” moving in and out of policy changes hoping to survive and make a difference in the lives of those we support.

I had a chance to meet some very interesting people here on day One and I expect tomorrow the magic will begin since there were no workshops, just a cool reception, some meet and greet events and info sharing on a more grass roots level.

While in the lobby I asked a passerby if they would mind taking my camera and snapping a quick picture in this wonderful lobby area. Here’s the picture that was taken.

Afterwards however, I was sitting using the computer when the person who had taken my picture came back by and asked me a few questions regarding what I was doing here etc. Come to find out we had something in common… we both had worked our way up to being Directors and we both were attempting top gain insight into where the state wants us to go with regards to employment first. As I shared I was reminded of the difficulty many organizations are facing with those who are more difficult to support, with the most challenging needs for support under the policies of employment first. It was an enlightening exchange of ideas. Two emerging thoughts came to surface.

1) Staff are still playing in the comfort zone and collaboration and partnerships are after thoughts versus primary engines to fuel the change we are expecting in employment

2) Some agencies are engaged in helping the persons who are more able to work than the people who have more challenging needs.  They are looking for solutions.

As the conversation continued, I shared my thoughts about one possible way to engage this population of challenging supports and I likened it as to helping people as if we were a third world country where there is little to no support for those with major difficulty to employment. The people are doing what-ever-it takes to participate in creating an income. they are not always looking for a job but they are engaged in micro -enterprise.

They make pottery pots, twist things from plants into baskets, work a loom to make scarves or other clothing items. even if they are using one finger and barely have use of their sight they are working together, they are in partnership with someone and the produce something that can be marketed to the masses.

As I have stated before, everyone can do something… we just need to explore.  We need to discover exactly what skill the person has because every single person was born into this world with something… some little ability that can be engaged to make their lives better.  As the conversation continued I invited the person into further exploration with the hopes of finding or discovering ideas that can make us all more successful as we strive to make life better for those we support. I believe we need more conversations. We need to share more… There’s an old concept that has become loss in today’s face paced world. It’s the Village concept. We need to rediscover the village.

The elders need to return and share their thoughts and strategies and with this village concept we can create partnerships that make sense and impact the world in a more passionate, creative and purposeful way.

I hung out at Annie’s Art Gallery with Dr. Dula and this was his strategy. let’s bring the village concept back. We need to Kings, Queens, elders and everyone to come togher and share ideas again. It happens here and there but today more than ever we need it to be the model. We need each other whether we want to beleive this or not. We can do more if we just begin to work together. By the way, while I was here i had a chance to walk the beautifl lake and resort. I’m not sure who wins when you change a resort into a casino. Yes it will create jobs but are these the types of jobs we want to produce when we know families will be broken, salaries will be wasted and some lives will be totally destroyed. Well in the village the elders would have had the last word and today it may mean taking a time out.

If you want to come to the Resort or a resort like this make a reservation or perhaps you want to take an all inclusive vacation to this resort…        Click here… and Go for it! 

A Better Way than the Standard Voc-Employment Assessment?

Dwayne Ross provides On site Human Service Staff Development Training, Youth Development, Online Marketing and MLM information reviews, training & suggestions.

What do you do when the traditional vocation or employment assessment  or “Job Development” process doesn’t work? or it only reveals the standard fluff, fold, fith or flowers as an option for work. What do you really do to really discover the person’s natural personal genius if all that was done was to check boxes, talk to the “who saids” and interrogate the person to find out what they wanted to do?

After the battery of assessments, task anlysis, etc. and $13,000.00 dollars later, the staff says to mom… “I’m sorry mom… Billy can’t work, he’s severely intellectually disabled. He needs a day program or he should be in some form of activity based program.”  Wait-a-Minute, Hold-up, Stop the presses! Do we even know who Billy really is? Do we know what he likes? Do we have any idea of his daily life at home and in his commnunity? Most would say… No! and it’s not that  Direct Support Professionals don’t want to do a great job supporting people but in a number of cases, there’s much more to “Discover.”

I am in the second day of a really informative workshop titled: Pathfinders: Career Assessment & Planning Strategies presented by Griffin-Hammis Associates.  It was a 2 day intensity workshop where an alternative approach to the standard practices for many was challenged and the current alternative was shared as a best practice for the DD Community, serves to more severe disabled populations.  Having a pretty solid foundation in the field, I truly enjoyed the validation of some of the past post that you have seen here on my blog, but most of all I learned a better approach to getting to the results or outcomes most will be challenged to get in this climate of “Employment First” here in the state of Maryland.  By having a more comprehensive approach to locating the “Personal Genius,” we were challenged not to jump to conclusions or make career assumptions and it allows us to look for much better opportunities instead of placing people in the career box!  “It’s not a replacement for assessments, but a layered alternative…,” said Patty Cassidy.

One of the other instructors Doug Crandell shared his own genius with locating a job for someone named Barrie who most would have given up on.  As a matter of fact, he had placed Billy in a box as well… but he was willing to give an alternative a chance…

 Check out the results below!

So I guess it’s not a better way but a different way of identifying the best steps to take towards helping people truly discover what it is they can do and want to do and like to do.

Leave a comment about this post.  I plan to post more in this next few days on this toic as well.  Focus on success!


What’s Driving Your Change?

Dwayne Ross provides training and information for Human Service Agencies, Youth Development and Online Marketing info product reviews and suggestions.

I just spent a few very cool hours with a co-worker, a transitional youth, her family and a few specialist talking about how their daughter will prepare to transition from High School. It was about a hour and 1/2 drive to the location so it allowed for me to have a very interesting conversation to and from the location and of course the topics ranged from family life to reality television and many things in between. One particular part of the conversation however was spent talking about the type of support that would be needed for, let’s call her “Betty.”

“Betty” is a disabled young lady who needs a lot of support because she can not retain information after having a conversation… her memory is locked into where she was years ago after having a traumatic brain injury or TBI. Many things were discussed but one of the really cool things that came out of the conversation was, how things would change for her after leaving School.

In school she has a host of who saids, sitting around her. Many are paid to make the right decisions for her and make sure she has the most opportunistic life possible. The family wants this for Betty, the school wants that and then the question came to Betty and what did she want? Change! As we were driving back to the beautiful southern Maryland area where I work I began thinking about what is driving the change in her life right now? Is it the parents? the school? funding? case managers? Betty?  What was it?

What is driving your change?

Life was acting on this young lady. If life didn’t come in to ask anything of her or request her to move perhaps she would stay in her comfort zone and exist exactly as she is right now. What about me? What is driving my change? More importantly what about you? What is it that is making your life move or what are you doing to maintain it? Do you want it to change? Do you want it to give you more or are you comfortable?  I have heard it said from a number of sources, change is constant and no one can do anything about that. I disagree with the statement because yes change is constant but “You Can” do something about it! You can make it work on your behalf, you can add to it, you can sabotage it, you can run from it! The main ingredient for your success is You!

School will end for this young lady and she will move on, but is she prepared for her new awaiting life? Will she be socially ready for bells not to ring, for people not telling her what to do with her time, for work versus community based learning? Our youth are coming into life unprepared and it’s up to us to prepare them. Am I saying all youth? No but there are many who are facing tomorrow and they do not have a plan. They do not have a way… they will be lost.

My co-worker and I agreed it was our job to set some guidelines, to expand the big picture for the parent. We need to make sure they are clear about what is going to take place in 7 more months! Most of all we had to be clear with Betty! We had to paint a clear picture of what to expect, what to look for and how will it be once she makes her “transition.”

So I ask again… What’s Driving Your Change? Don’t wait until  life acts on you, be in front of the change, be prepared and act on life! (Les Brown) You can pretend it’s all good. Decisions for change are not made in comfort zones! You can design your life or wait for life to design it for you! In my book Shift your Focus (previous topic as well) I shared how to make a shift. The world is shifting all of the time. Remember when you could play a record? then you could buy either or but then there came a time when there were no records only CDs. I couldn’t believe it! I was talking to the store manager and he said, I’m sorry sir we had to move with the change! As much as I wanted a record… I had to get a CD. I am sure those who had 8 tracks felt the same way! lol! Change is driven by so many things but most of all, your response to the change will make all of the difference.

Be the Agent of change! I can recall a time when you could walk into a Travel agency and sat down to talk to an agent about where you wanted to go, and you looked at all of the pretty pictures of places you thought , One day I’m gonna go here or there… Well the days are still moving forward but now you don’t need to walk into a place made of brick and mortar, you can go online and click and order. Why? Change happened… the industry shifted!    Are you ready?

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Cultivating an Income through Customized Employment

Dwayne Ross provides training and information for Human Service Agencies, Youth Development and Online Marketing info product reviews and suggestions.

So what do you do when the person has a disability that is far beyond what others may think is “employable?” Carve, Customize or Create! Simple enough right? Well today some staff were wondering if this is really possible and if so will they gain the support they need from their Executives and Directors to make such a statement work.

As a Director I want to believe the answer to that is Yes! they will get the support but the reality is how are you going to make sure they are clear about your objectives. One attendee spoke of how the organization has put so many resources towards helping someone create a job, that they are willing to abort the mission… It has become a “Mission Impossible” but I encouraged them to stay the course and think of the Individual first.  I also shared a few steps that might work towards making sure they give the person the best possibility for success in securing income, instead of looking to fill a job.

One thing that I suggested is to gain the buy in when those in power do not understand or support what you plan to do. In many cases it is very difficult to see things the same ways as others may see them, especially when you are going against the grain. When you are going the opposite way of the crowd. I gained success as an Employment Specialist through doing the things that others talked about or did not do! Winning awards were not my goal but it happened as w result of making life better for those whom I supported. I dedicated my life to making their life better. I can recall sharing my personal mission statement, which helped me stay focused and challenged me to do new things, in an unorthodox way. It was risky but it worked! So how do you cultivate an Income any way? What does that even mean? Glad you asked.

Most of us think of plants when we say cultivate, however another supportive definition is to: Foster relationship; to improve by labor, care or study. Improve by labor… work it out of the soil… break it up and get the growth to increase. When we cultivate Customized employment we must first make sure those who we approach have a mindset to understand exactly how you plan to support the growth of the person you plan to bring into the work environment. It is also important to work with the Individual to make sure he/she are on board and want to improve. So what is Customized Employment?

The US Department of Labor puts it this way;  Customized employment means individualizing the employment relationship between employees and employers in ways that meet the needs of both. It is based on an individualized determination of the strengths, needs, and interests of the person with a disability, and is also designed to meet the specific needs of the employer.

It may include employment developed through job carving, self-employment or entrepreneurial initiatives, or other job development or restructuring strategies that result in job responsibilities being customized and individually negotiated to fit the needs of individuals with a disability.

Customized employment assumes the provision of reasonable accommodations and supports necessary for the individual to perform the functions of a job that is individually negotiated and developed…” 

If you have spent time fostering the relationship you will discover what the person’s interest are; but interest alone won’t work. You can have an interest in anything but having the skill to accomplish it is a very different thing. As a case manager you may be told to focus on the person’s likes, dislikes and interest which are all good places to begin unless the person is unable to do the task associated with the thing they like the most. As a practitioner we must discover more about this person so that he/she will put the most significant and capable foot forward. Exploring Customized Employment is a wonderful journey of discovery for many… it may seem a little bit juvenile in a sense but that’s okay.

The 4 steps to Customized Employment are simple:

1. Discovery: Cultivate and expose the talents, skills and abilities of the person.

2. Create a Plan: Job, work or business… develop a comprehensive Job Search (O-net)

3. Negotiate with the employer: Design and support the most effective Job Match

4. Support, support  and support more: Expose the benefits to the employer and be there!

To learn more about Customized Employment you can e-mail, send me a tweet or message me on Face book. In the mean time go here to get more information!

Have a great day!

Another resource for all employment is Discovery…     Go here to get it!

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