Regional Employment Plan Makes Progress for People with Diverse Abilities

March 19th, 2014

Community Living BC (CLBC) and community partners are celebrating progress in developing additional supports and strategies to create more jobs for adults with developmental disabilities, autism and FASD in Central and Upper Vancouver Island.
In October 2013, CLBC invested $100,000 to support the development of a large-scale regional pilot project in Central and Upper Vancouver Island to help promote job opportunities for people served by CLBC who want to work and are able to work. This project is one element of a comprehensive, three-year Community Action Employment Plan CLBC released in March 2013. 
The $100,000 local investment was focused on supporting the development and implementation of strategies across the region that recognize diverse qualities and opportunities of individual communities, raise awareness of the contribution adults with diverse abilities can make in work places and build the capacity of CLBC’s service provider network. 
Since then, significant progress has been made. Highlights include:

  • doubling capacity of employment services for the Cowichan Valley
  • community partnerships, leading to local employment plans, established with diverse groups of community leaders in Duncan, Campbell River, Nanaimo, Comox Valley, Port Alberni, Parksville and Port Hardy
  • direct training opportunities for contracted service providers on best practices, job coaching, marketing and supporting self-employment goals
  • “Job clubs” established in Parksville and Nanaimo for potential employees
  • new self advocate liaison for the Comox Valley to promote employment as an option in schools and provide peer support
  • planning for first cross-sector transition fair for Nanaimo in May 2014 where over 30 agencies are expected to attend and inform families and youth transitioning to adulthood
  • assessing our capacity to help individuals seek and maintain employment in local communities

In collaboration with British Columbia’s Family Support Institute (FSI), CLBC is also providing additional funding to help family members of the people we serve become more involved and supportive of employment services. FSI will expand their successful familyWorks program in Vancouver to three other CLBC regions – including central and upper Vancouver Island.  Among other things, familyWorks will:

  • help families recognize the potential of employment to improve their loved ones’ quality of life
  • recognize that families sometimes have concerns and help them develop strategies that provide comfort in pursuing employment 
  • establish local “family chapters” that will help share, learn and develop an internal process to support the development of individual employment plans for their loved one 
  • inform potential expansion of the model to other CLBC regions
  • ensure family perspectives are included in CLBC’s employment strategy

CLBC released the three-year Community Action Employment Plan one year ago and marked the first anniversary earlier this month with a progress report that captured provincial activities to date.

MLA Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum
“People with disabilities want to achieve greater independence for themselves and their families, and have opportunities to contribute to their communities. Initiatives taking place at the local level through the Community Action Employment Plan will create momentum and awareness about the skills, abilities and experience adults with developmental disabilities can bring to the workplace.”
Doug Woollard, Interim CEO, Community Living BC
“In the year since it was announced, the Community Action Employment Plan has made great strides in coordinating for the first time, the resources, experience and expertise available across B.C. to increase employment for the adults CLBC serves. This success is clearly evident in the central and upper island where through the framework of the plan, government, community and agency partners are strengthening their networks, providing mentorship, identifying ways to use resources more effectively, and coordinating education and outreach of employers so more people have the opportunity to find and keep work.”
Angela Clancy, Family Support Institute Executive Director:
“FSI is excited to embark on this partnership with CLBC. We are pleased to see the commitment to family focused, family directed approaches to employment conversations and strategies. At FSI we believe families are the experts when it comes to their sons and daughters and we are heartened to see that CLBC is committed to investing in families with this in mind as well. We are pleased to expand our work with families to identify internal and external barriers to employment, validate their experience and concerns, and assist them to come to a new place of seeing and exploring what is possible for their sons and daughters. This partnership with CLBC has allowed us to do this, and for that we are grateful.”
Maureen Brinson, Supervisor, Employment Services, Campbell River & District Association for Community Living
“Campbell River and District Association for Community Living is playing an active part in creating a plan for our community that plays on our strengths and addresses the unique needs we have to work on to help increase employment for adults with developmental disabilities.  I am really pleased at how the community and the sector have come together, particularly around employer engagement and awareness.”
Sherwin Strong, Self Advocate Leader & Employee, Supporting Our Abilities Presentation Project
“I feel that the project has been a success so far in making the members more comfortable approaching different businesses and talking about employment.  I would like to see this project not only open eyes of employers to hiring people with diverse abilities but to also build community relationships and create more opportunities for people to get hired as a result of such a presentation.”
Glenn Wildes, Vancouver Island Community Connections, Support Our Abilities Presentation Project
“I have really enjoyed the process of working with this group of self advocates on this project, and reaching out to employers.  I am hopeful about seeing more people get hired by the employers we are talking to as a result of this project.”

Media contact:

Community Living British Columbia

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