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Preparing for life in the workforce

Representatives from the Logan County Board of DD are helping their counterparts across the state prepare young men and women with developmental disabilities for life in the workforce.

Ashley Logan, Logan County Board of DD Designated Employment Navigator, and Kylee Ransbottom, Bridges to Transition Specialist, recently presented at the Employment Navigation Now Conference in Lucas County. Representatives from 24 northwest Ohio counties attended.

Logan explained, “This is something Logan County has been doing for years. We started working with transition youth, preparing them for employment, not necessarily in the workshop.”

Logan told the group, for the past 30 years sheltered workshops were the only option for students graduating from high school. But now, she advised, identifying and exploring employment options should be the top priority.

The pair explained that Logan County utilizes a multi-agency planning program, or MAP Initiative, to bring together the individual, parents, educators, health care providers, potential employers and more well before graduation to help plan for the individual’s future. The MAP Initiative is part of the statewide Employment First program. Ransbottom says MAP is useful for the Logan County Board of DD’s Bridges to Transition, that serves teens and their families.

Ransbottom says, “The whole process allows students to understand what Employment Training is, practice informed choices and participate in backward planning at a young age.”

The Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities website (OOD.ohio.gov) and OhioMeansJobs.com offer similar programs that can be modified.

Logan says, “So what we’ve done is expanded on what was established and made it more efficient by not duplicating assessments, plans, and meetings. Instead we come together to share our plan.”

For example, individuals are asked to identify their preferences, interests, needs, and skills. Then the group uses a transition assessment planning guide and backward planning template to find a job that fits the preferences, interests, needs, and skills of the individual. Educators and summer skills programs through Bridges to Transition identify areas where an individual may need improvement or training to be able to work in his or her chosen field.

Logan says, “If, after planning, training, and education, an individual is unable to find the right employment fit, Adult Day Programs, like those available through RTC, will always be available.”

Logan and Ransbottom also suggested to the group to be sure to celebrate successes through periodic public recognition of individuals and their employers. They pointed to the annual RTC Employer Appreciation Breakfast held each spring to honor local business and industries as a great example of celebrating those many successes.

(Pictured left to right: Kylee Ransbottom and Ashley Logan present at the recent employment Navigation Now Conference in Lucas County)

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