My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An easier Transition to Job placement...

a message from Joyce: I promised I would tell you today a little about what has been distracting my time from blogging lately.

The short story is, we have a new employee. Her name is Sari. She started on Monday. We (John, Matt and me) have been frantically cleaning a section of the office to make it just right for her arrival. Her area is over in the corner behind the counter.

So, what's the big deal, you ask? Truthfully, this is huge. Last spring I wrote about the day Sarah and I visited the Adult Activities Center where the County Board of Developmental Disabilities would likely place her when she ages out of the job training program she is currently in. As in most states, that will happen when she is 22. However, there is a waiting list for services, so there is no guarantee of that happening for several years. The greater issue for me was the general idea of sending Sarah to a large facility with 200 plus other adults with disabilities to "hang out" all day. Not my vision of where she would be after all these years of hard work. I soon found out though there are not a whole lot of alternatives due to funding shortages they claim.

A separate concern for me was the transition process. If you live on the eastern side of Cuyahoga county and have a high school student with a disability, they are often in a program referred to as CEVEC. It is an excellent operation. The entire concept is they train the teens in the community in real job sites. But then on their 22nd birthday, or there about as some districts will let them finish the year, they transfer over to the County Board of DD and a whole new set of adults and placements take over. Huge disruption to a young adult in my opinion. Especially for those who transition is already a difficult issue.

So last spring, I started dialogue with staff members from both entities. Some were cooperative, some were not. My concept was this: Find a company placement in the final six months of CEVEC that would then hire them as an employee once they reached their 22nd birthday and aged out. Behind the scenes the adults can handle the paper work involved in transitioning from one bureaucratic entity to the other. For the young adult involved, it would be a seamless transition. In fact, they would not even realize a transition is occurring.

Going into this I knew I had an advantage in these discussions, as my husband and I own a business. Not only do I see the challenges from a parental view point, I can pilot the thought process with jobs. So after many meetings, drum roll please, our first new employee from CEVEC arrived this week. She is a delightful young woman with Autism. During the interview process we learned she has some distraction issues and does not like to work in a large environment.

Hence, the corner area. It has a feel of privacy so she will hopefully be more comfortable. Yet it is in the snack/lunch area so she will have to interact and socialize with the employees for short periods. This is important to her family. She comes to us initially with a job coach who will stay with her until she learns her duties. She will start out with shredding. We are a medical billing company so we have an endless mountain of paperwork that must be destroyed appropriately. The concept is when Sari turns 22 in January, she will become a member of our staff and I will be her immediate supervisor. Behind the scenes, the County Board of DD could be called in for consult if needed.

It's a start. A small beginning that I hope will make a difference. For Sari, and one day for our Sarah. I'm pleased with the initial phase. Sari is so excited and her family is thrilled.

22 comments:

Tara said...

That's awesome, Joyce! I'm so glad to see a common sense approach actually making headway in spite of overwhelming beauracracy! Interested in following the saga...

Molly said...

I LOVE it! Seriously what an amazing idea. If I had a business I'd totally hire Sarah! Or anyone!

stephanie said...

I can't believe you guys did that, this is amazing!
I hope this is the beginning of something huge. Good luck!

Adelaide Dupont said...

I'm glad Sari is working with you people.

And I like the idea of the six-month placement.

The corner cubicle in the snack area would probably be my idea of heaven.

datri said...

That's wonderful! I wish more business would get involved. I find that the most frustrating about this whole disability world. We pour everything into the kids, but when they become adults everything dries up. Very frustrating! One of the reasons I have Kayla in the placement she is in now is that they have programs (including residential) all the way into adulthood and the work is meaningful. It's a HUGE weight off my mind.

Rochelle said...

Joyce,

This is awesome, you guys are moving the bar up! YAHOO!
I am truly thankful to have someone like you with 20 years of experience and great ideas to pave the way for all of us newbies. You are a blessing to us!

Tsquared417 said...

Oh, Joyce. This is wonderful and I'm so proud of you and of Sarah and of Sari!!

Karen said...

Yet another reason to look up to you for a role model.

ABandCsMom said...

This is awesome! What an idea and what a way to reach out and help others. Bravo!!

Simply, Sarah said...

What a great project you are starting! Great for you, for Sari, and for everyone it has the potential to impact!

Yesterday, I finished reading a book about an Autistic Savant, "Born on a Blue Day." It was fascinating and gave me new insight to Autism and some of the ways it affects the lives of those who have it.

Heidi said...

Wow - what an amazing opportunity! I am so interested to hear how it goes!

Mel said...

What a great idea and good on you for being prepared to put your money where your mouth is.

Monica said...

You are awesome!! Can't wait to hear more about it!!

Anonymous said...

Great idea!!! Love it!!!

Jan

Shelley said...

That is so exciting! I hope it goes fantastically for everyone.

Lund7 said...

That's great! How does compensation work? Do you pay her or are their funds at a local level?

This is all great for me to see...our son is only 7 but it's so nice to watch what others are doing to help their children be successful in life! Thanks for your insight!

Lianna said...

Absolutely WONDERFUL! I'm teary, actually, because I find my way often to this side of the world of worry. What will be out there for Gabriel?

I am so proud of you and your family!

Thank you for doing this!

Best wishes for Sari and her new career! I'm sure Sarah will feel great, too!

Becca said...

That's so great, Joyce! I hope there are many, many more people out there with businesses who are willing to give all of our children a chance when the time comes.

RK said...

Wonderful! Take a situation that isn't the best it can be and make it better...way better. That's really amazing.

Nancy said...

Way to go Joyce! What you are about to embark on is EXACTLY what more businesses should be doing! The 'Mom & Pop" business are the best!!

My husband and I have our own Photography Studio, we needed help with putting the WEDDING PROOFS in little photo albums..(before the digital age...not too very long ago!)..a perfect job for someone that likes repetition! We had the honor of having a young lady with Prader-Willi work with us every day part-time for well over a year and a half!

The JOB COACHES....they helped...but certainly not like all of us 'on the job' helped her! She became best friends with our other employee and they started going to church together.She became so close to all of us and basically part of 'the family'...our family took her with us to the yearly Disability Conference in our State. She experienced so much more than 'just a part-time job'...she experienced BEING ACCEPTED UNCONDITIONALLY and TRUE FRIENDSHIPS and BECAME A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF SOCIETY working for our Photo Studio 'part-time'....that was about 8 years ago...we still miss having her 'show up for work' to this day!

I hope one day that my daughter will have the honor of working for an employer like I was to "Miss A"...she showed me that it really doesn't take a whole heck of alot to 'hire-train-keep' a young adult with differentABILITIES on the job! My motto has always been: "There is always a job for everyone and every job is imporant to do well!"

Way to go Joyce and have FUN!! Looking forward to your updates!

Nancy & Mariah
321 Fun ~ Mariah's BLOG
www.321fun.blogspot.com
DS Advocate
www.ds-advocate.blogspot.com

JRS said...

You guys, this is amazing! I thought your announcement was going to be something like this, only I thought maybe it would be something with Joyce's sewing or something. You are inspirational!
---Jen

JennyH said...

That is awesome!! Hope it works out perfectly.

Sarah, you are looking great. I love reading through your blog. You are a very busy blogger!

Congrats on winning those baskets by the way.