Celebrating NDEAM 2023 with Career Services
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Recognized each October to commemorate the many contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy, the theme for NDEAM 2023 is “Advancing Access and Equity.” Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022 only 21% of people with disabilities in the U.S. were employed. Search’s Career Services program is dedicated to improving access to community-based employment and equity in the workplace for people with disabilities. Read on to learn more about Career Services at Search.
Career Services at Search are a critical aspect of our mission, serving an average of 30+ individuals monthly. The program employs 3 full-time staff members, including 2 Employment Specialist/QIDPs, a Division Manager and our Director of Adult Learning and Career Services.
Wherever people are on their employment journey, Search’s Career Services team supports them every step of the way in their job search, until they find a job that matches their interests and preferences. After they have been hired, we continue to support the person to succeed on the job.
In FY 23, Career Services supported 17 individuals to gain competitive, integrated jobs in the community. Since we returned to in person work in FY 21, Search has supported more people than ever to join the workforce, helping over 40 individuals to achieve competitive, integrated jobs in the community at the prevailing minimum wage, or higher.
In Illinois, employment services are funded through contracts from the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). In recent years, Search has been able to grow its DRS contract based on the positive employment outcomes experienced by the people supported by the program. In FY 23, Search recouped an excellent 90% of its DRS contract.
Additionally, in FY 23, Search was awarded a new $20,000 contract from DRS to provide students who are aging out of the public-school system with pre-employment transition services. Search’s Youth services program supports will include job exploration counseling, work-based learning, post-secondary education, workplace readiness training and instruction in self-advocacy.
In FY 24, Search will continue its efforts to expand its Career Services program by growing its existing DRS grants. Search will also be exploring Group Employment services to offer group work opportunities at community businesses with the support of job coaching resources.
About the growth of Career Services over the past few years, Career Services Division Manager, Robert Parkinson shared that, “I am excited about the new youth program. Search has worked with youth in the past through our social ventures to provide opportunities while they are still in school, and now we can formalize that work. There has always been a gap between high school age and adult services, and we will be working to bridge that gap to create a seamless transition.” Search is looking forward to what is next for Career Services.
Below are some of our main employment partners for Career Services. We are grateful for these ongoing partnerships with local businesses. They make our work possible!