In 2016, CLBC, WCG International, a WorkBC contractor, and an employment service provider in Smithers, began collaborating on employment services, which led to elimination of duplication of supports, and helped many more people find and keep work.
It all began in the fall of 2016, when Elke Heinemann-Pesch, an analyst in the Smithers office, met a mother and her son at the grocery store. The son had found work through WCG International’s WorkBC program with a computer company but his 52 weeks of support were about to end, and without support he potentially would be at risk of losing a job he loved.
Elke contacted High Roads, a local employment provider, who had capacity in their program to support the young man. High Roads collaborated closely with Diana Jex, case manager with the WCG International WorkBC program, to make a smooth transition between services. This event planted a seed for future collaboration between CLBC, the WorkBC contractor and High Roads.
Early in 2017, CLBC staff in Smithers worked with community stakeholders to assess gaps in employment supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. As part of this work, Elke and Diana coordinated monthly discussions about the roles and responsibilities of each organization, where the challenges were supporting people to find employment, and how collaboration could improve supports. The group is still meeting and includes CLBC, staff from WCG International’s WorkBC program, employment service providers, an Indigenous service provider and the local school district when available.
“Initially, the collaboration added to our workload,” said Elke and Diana. “However, in the long-term, it has reduced workload as each individual experiences success in the workplace. As a group, we can build relationships and make connections that support an individual more holistically. By collaborating, we have targeted discussions with employers, rather than “hitting the pavement and finding jobs.”
Everyone brings different tools to the table
When the group meets (first it was monthly, now periodically), they conduct a collaborative, joint intake of an individual by discussing the best support model and best practice for the individual. Individuals and their families are involved in this intake process. In this way, the organizations involved reduce duplication of services, and ensure the individual is well supported through their employment journey. They also work on employer recognition and inclusive employment events to raise awareness about hiring inclusively, and to continue to build capacity within the local business community. CLBC facilitators play a crucial role in the community awareness and employer recognition campaigns.
“We are seeing more long-term success for individuals. They are staying in jobs longer and seem to have more job satisfaction,” say Diana and Elke.
“Each organization brings different tools to the table. For example, WCG’s WorkBC program can provide assessments more quickly than CLBC, as well as assistive technology, job search tools and equipment for a person once they have a job.”
Through the Opportunities Program, Work BC contractors across B.C. can also access wage subsidies to give employers the incentive to hire inclusively, and to give individuals an opportunity to gain meaningful work experience. During the period of wage subsidy and job coaching available through the WorkBC program, a positive relationship can be built between the employer and employee, and their support team. Once the WorkBC supports have been completed, an individual transitions to a CLBC employment provider for continued job coaching and on the job maintenance.
“We would encourage all CLBC and WorkBC contractors to develop ways to collaborate and make sure services are best meeting the needs of the individuals CLBC serves,” say Elke and Diana. “Not only does it make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, but it also creates higher job satisfaction for the organizations involved in the collaboration. Sharing the work lessens the load. All you need to start is to have a vision of where you want to go!”