A range of government, service provider and community groups who are completing the second year of the Community Action Employment Plan (CAEP) are seeing strong progress across B.C. This includes significant shifts in the numbers of youth with developmental disabilities who want to work, increased engagement with businesses, and improved support services in cities and rural communities.
The plan, led by Community Living BC (CLBC), has brought partners together in a concerted effort to make employment a priority, to develop new capacity to support individuals and employers, to shift public attitudes and engage employers. The results are being profiled at the national Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) conference in Victoria on June 4.
In 2012, data showed 2,200 individuals served by CLBC reported an income, or 15 per cent. The 2015 data, compiled by matching CLBC-funded individuals with BC Disability Assistance (PWD) information on those reporting income, show over 3,600 individuals served by CLBC are now reporting an income, almost 23 per cent. While the data does not directly measure jobs created by the CAEP, the increase of 1,400 reporting income in two years reflects an increasingly positive environment for inclusive employment thanks to important initiatives by the Employment Program of BC, service providers and community groups. Employment received a further boost with the announcement of the annualized earnings exemption in 2014.
While the numbers are positive, data also shows that many more people want to work, and of those who are already working, many want more hours.
The plan builds on research that indicates employment is a critical pathway to achieving a good life for individuals with developmental disabilities. It also follows on the 2012 Deputy Minister’s Working Group report that highlighted employment as one of the 12 recommendations to improve responsiveness of services to people.
The CAEP is a collaborative strategy with government, service providers, volunteers, self advocates, families, community leaders and employers, and is a key part of CLBC’s strategic plan. CLBC is marking progress made to date by releasing a report, Two Years of Progress: Community Action Employment Plan, as part of its presentation at the national CASE conference.
Actions in the plan include making improvements to policy, practice and training in the sector, building public and employer awareness, and creating partnerships with employers and business leaders to increase hiring of adults CLBC serves. They include:
Making work a priority through an “employment first” approach leading to an increase in numbers of youth who want to work (60-80 per cent of youth in pilot areas want to work):
- Funding large-scale pilot projects in the Thompson-Cariboo, Central-Upper Island and Simon Fraser regions that have assisted in the transformation of day services to employment services
- Increasing collaboration with Work BC to enhance skill building and employment supports, leading to Work BC helping 570 individuals served by CLBC finding work last year
- Increasing the number of fairs for youth transitioning from high school and the profile of employment as an option at existing fairs
Building sector capacity to support individuals and employers:
- Investing $120,000 in specialized training for employment service providers, community inclusion workers, school district staff, Aboriginal employment services
- Being the first jurisdiction to adopt national best practices established by the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (www.employmentforall.ca)
- Developing employment programs in rural communities such as Port Hardy, Merritt, and Williams Lake where previously there were no employment services
- Providing 50 CLBC-BCGEU scholarships for skill development to individuals with development disabilities
Shifting attitudes and culture through community partnerships:
- Increasing the focus on employment by supporting familyWORKS, an initiative of the Family Support Institute
- Building tools and capacity for encouraging Self Advocate leadership through the Promoting Our Abilities project, led by the Self Advocacy Foundation
- Building awareness and capacity by providing an online location for sharing experiences and connecting with others through the Mapping Inclusive Employment Project with the Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship and the BC Centre for Employment Excellence
- Supporting individuals with disabilities to develop presentations to educate employers
- Engaging First Nations groups in planning processes for employment
- Partnering with programs like Ready, Willing and Able, and Mentorability, to engage employers
- Working with Rotary, national Rotary leaders and other community partners to engage employers and develop Rotary@Work in BC to reach out to business leaders
- Launching the BC Partners in Workforce Innovation, with industries with identified workforce shortages to hire more people with disabilities
- Recognizing inclusive employers through CLBC’s Widening Our World awards program
CLBC recently engaged individuals, family members, employers, service providers, CLBC staff and community and government partners to evaluate accomplishments, the remaining actions to be completed and the lessons learned. One item includes the development of a new reporting process to be implemented in June 2015 to better track jobs created by CLBC-funded employment services. CLBC and its partners will refresh the Plan over the coming months and outline key activities, establish new timelines and set new targets to advance this work in the coming years.
The work of CLBC’s Community Action Employment Plan complements a wide range of residential, inclusion, individualized funding and community supports CLBC provides to over 17,000 adults across B.C., as well as the on-going cross-government work to improve services to adults with developmental disabilities. To read the Report Out on Two Years of Progress: Community Action Employment Plan, or to learn more about CLBC or the Community Action Employment Plan, visit www.communitylivingbc.ca
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell:
“The Community Action Employment Plan is about working together to create stronger and more inclusive communities. CLBC along with service providers across the province can be proud of the work they do to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Providing employment and training opportunities while encouraging employers to build inclusive and diverse workplaces is a benefit to us all.”
Seonag Macrae, CEO, Community Living BC:
“Work is something that gives people independence, confidence and connection with their community. The results we have achieved to date to advance employment for the adults CLBC serves could not have happened without the dedication and hard work of all the partners and people involved. We continue to encourage everyone to get involved and support the individuals CLBC serves to increase their quality of life and have more opportunities to contribute to their communities.”
Jack Styan, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, CLBC, and CAEP Planning Team Co-Chair:
“Research and countless success stories demonstrate employment is one of the best ways for the people CLBC serves to pursue their personal goals and participate and contribute in their communities. Employment is a key strategic priority for CLBC, and we will continue to focus on the work of the Plan, on building on the momentum created with our partners, and also exploring innovative ways to transform our service delivery so more people who want to work have increased choice to support their job search.”
Dan Collins, Executive Director, Langley Association for Community Living, and CAEP Planning Team Co-Chair:
“Advancing employment for the adults CLBC serves is complex and requires building and sustaining partnerships on multiple fronts. The work accomplished to date through this collaboration is unprecedented in BC. While we celebrate our progress, we are also renewing our commitment to the work of the plan, to building on the momentum we have achieved to date, and to supporting more people to find and keep employment.”
Tracy Williams, President of the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE):
“At CASE, we believe in and support local solutions for local issues, and that also means recognizing and supporting innovation and new ideas for supported employment from across the country. The Community Action Employment Plan clearly demonstrates the progress that can happen when people across the sector agree to collaborate towards a common goal. This made-in-BC solution – and the complex work it has undertaken – is making inclusion and economic participation for people with developmental disabilities a reality, and setting the bar on the national stage.”
The Case for Inclusive Hiring
- A DuPont study showed that 82 per cent of workers who have a disability scored average or above average in performance ratings.
- A Harris study showed that 55 per cent of employers say that workers who have a disability work harder than other employees.
- Most job accommodations to help someone with a disability at work cost less than $500.
- According to the DuPont survey, 86 per cent of employees who have a disability have average to above average attendance records.
- Research shows 80 per cent of consumers prefer to support businesses with diverse work forces.
Communications, Community Living BC