Customized Employment: Case Study Examples from the VCU-DRRP Research


>>JENNIFER MCDONOUGH: Hello, and welcome
to our Webcast on customized employment. My name is Jennifer
McDonough and I’m the project director for a research study
that we’ll be discussing today.
Today, we’ll do a quick overview of the foundation of the
work that we’re presenting on, the research studies,
specifically, that this work is covered under. Then, I’ll share some key points about customized
employment. Following this, I’ll share two of our employment
specialists with you and they will talk about some case studies
of the research that we have been currently providing.
So, we have been working an a NIDILRR grant related to
customized employment for individuals with disabilities. This
is a five year research study and it will end in September of
2021. It’s a randomized control trial and it is work with
individuals who are 18 to 24 years old with intellectual and
developmental disabilities, including autism The goal of this project is for these young
adults to achieve competitive employment, specifically
customized employment. Individuals who are randomized
into the treatment group will be randomized into the customized
employment aspect of the study, and those individuals are connected
with an employment specialist. Those employment specialists
work with the young adults to learn about them, find
out about their interests and employment and assist with finding
employment. Part of the discovery process is to really
get to know the individual’s strengths and preferences as
well as the supports that they need to be independent in employment.
This is really the foundation. This is really the foundation
of customized employment, and it’s key to how we move throughout
the process and use what we learn in discover to take
us through each step of their employment path.
So, during our discovery period of time, we have a lot of
different activities that we employ to get to know the
individuals that we’re working with. We start out typically
with home visits and during these visits, we talk about what
the individual likes to do while they’re at home, when they’re
away from the home, places they enjoy visiting, but we also do
a lot of observation. What’s going on notice home. Who’s in
the home with the individual? Who are those key people that
we need to spend time with to get to know this individual.
What’s on the walls? Is there artwork maybe the individual has
made or are there pictures that the individual is in that can
kind of give us a glimpse into their life? Maybe there’s sports
memorabilia on the walls. Maybe they’ll share with us a quick
trip into their private area, like their bedroom, to talk about
some of the things that they have collected over the years and
have placed in their bedrooms or in a family room.
We also interview family and friends and other individuals
that are significant to the individual. Maybe a boyfriend or
a girlfriend or a teacher. Gathering information from these folks can
help us learn more about the individual that maybe the job
seeker hasn’t shared with us specifically. We can also get
know about their cultural and social background.
We have a young lady that we’ve worked with who came from
South Africa, and she’s very ingrained in sharing that culture
with us and wants to continue learning about that culture and
being connected through that culture and does o so through
different activities in our current community or our home
community of Richmond. And so, it’s important for her to participate
in those events and so that’s something we can observe
her in. We also observe job seekers in multiple environments
to collect information. Both new environments
and as well as comfortable environments like their home.
We Mrs. want to understand the non-work needs of the job seeker.
So, what’s important to them and what are their preferences
whether it is that they enjoy spending their Sundays at
church or they like to sleep late. So, thinking about those things,
it would drive how we assess when they’re available to go
to work and the things that are important to them in finding work
schedule that meets their needs.
We also do informational interviews going out to
businesses with or without the job seeker to learn about what
the business entails, what happens on a daily are basis, what
is the business doing on Mondays versus Thursdays, are there
different schedules? Are there different times of the day when
activities happen? What are all the job tasks that occur in that
business? And we also do job shadows where the individual
job seeker could come in and spend some time learning about
that business for someone who maybe states that they enjoy working
with animals, going in and shadowing in a veterinary office
to see that it’s not just spending time with pets in a fun
way but there’s other activities that go on that are month r related
to maybe cleaning up after the pets or seeing pets that are
really in distress that can be alarming.
We also do business o tours and this is something that I
enjoy doing because I’m a very visual person and so going into
a business and actually walking around with the business owner
or manager to learn about what happens in a day-to-day basis
and what do those specific job tasks that occur look like? What
does it mean to work in in a materials management. What does
that actually look like? What are the supplies you’re using
in those different tasks. Who supports the discovery process? Well,
a lot of people. The job seeker is the primary person.
That’s what we want to pay closest attention to. What their
needs are and abilities. We also want to pay close attention
to the individual’s family and friends.
What can we learn from them? As well as their social
networks and any paid professionals, teachers and clinicians
that dock with them. As well as business personnel. Whether they’ve
done volunteer activities or have paid employment
previously, we need to connect with all of those individuals
and almost act as a private investigator to learn as much
as we can about the individual so that we can find the best match
for them in employment.
Through the discovery process, we’ll learn all of these
different things about individuals that will drive what’s
called a theme. And those are the ways that we kind of sort
and categorize interests and skills and abilities so that we
then go to the next step of looking at employment. So, on this
side, you’ll see some themes and then some things that are not
themes so a theme example might be that the individual is
interested in sports and enjoys going to football games and
working with and collecting sports memorabilia. Or they’re
interested in the arts and they enjoy making different crafts
a pottery to spend their time on the weekends. Whereas, what wouldn’t be considered a theme
would be walking dogs or painting or planting flowers.
So, planting flowers isn’t a theme. However, agriculture
and horticulture is. So there’s a bit of a difference there
in how you’re categorizing things. You want to think broadly
as you discover themes. When we are looking at the discovery
process, it really culminates into creating a job seeker profile
and this is something that’s done with the job seeker
and the important people in their lives to look at all of the
look at all the information you’ve discovered and then it
will help your job development path.
It is an actually narrative so it’s a written document and
talks about the individual skills and abilities, their
interests and preferences as well as the ideal features of their
employment. It takes place at the conclusion of the discovery
process during an employment planning meeting where you gather
all of those important people together that the individual would
like to include and discuss all of the data that you have and
all of those different areas and say, this is the path that we’re
going to move forward with and make sure that everyone is in
agreement. It also gives you a way to look at, who do
you know and who can you connect with? And so, through
that meeting, you can identify the different themes, and say,
who do you know in the community had a can speak to those things?
Do we know anybody who is in sports or agriculture that
may be able to help us in our job development? The other thing
that we’ll utilize in the job development is the portfolio or
visual resume. In this, we are highlighting skills, interests,
experiences. You can use a variety of methods, PowerPoint,
video R. instead of using a typical resume that is
just a paper and ink resume, instead, it really highlights the
person’s skills and abilities.
And that is used during the job development process so
we’re using all that have information from the discovery.
We’re utilizing our social capital. Who are we connected with?
Who is in our network both personally and professionally?
We’re using social media. Instagram. All of Twitter. All of
those different social media to connect with people.
We’re scheduling tours and taking informational interviews as well as arranging meetings and
working interviews for the individuals that we are serving. In
those meetings, we’re discussing what the ideal employment
situation would be for our job seeker and then negotiating with
the manager or business owner to look at a customized solution.
Through that, we may need to create an employment solution
that poses exactly what the individual would be doing in their
customized job as well as the needs for the business and how
we as employment specialists may be supporting that individual
once they’re employed. We’re also identifying tasks, looking
at job seekers, accommodations, pay, any support
they may be needing once employed. So, what does this electronic
like in real life? We’ve got Michaela Lemieux and Tomoya Lamberson
with us today and they’re going to share some case studies
with you.>>MICHAELA LEMIEUX: Thank you, Jen. My name
is Michaela and I am one of the employment specialists
working under this grant.
And today, I will be discussing one of the individuals that
I’ve been working with, named Terry. Terry graduated from high
school in 2011 and was then referred for customized employment
in 2018. After graduation, she earned two certificates. One
was in clerical studies and she also earned a certificate of
completion in a veterinarian assistant program. And during this time, between school and when
she was referred to the customized employment grant,
she participated in some other activities one that she still
inn continues to do today, which is volunteering at a local
law office as well as helping take care of some advertise well
as helping take care of some relatives that have become ill.
Also, during this time, she unfortunately unsuccessfully
applied for employment after graduation. So, she did not gain
employment. So our first discovery employment was for me to
meet with Terry and her mom. We actually met at our office
because that had been more convenient for her mother and her
at the time. One of the things I learned about Terry was
she loves working with animals and also enjoys he clerical
tasks so one of the first other activities we did was to
go to a local park where they have a bunch of farm animals. So, my observation at the law office r she
at. I learned that she checks the cases the attorneys close
and goes into computers and makes sure the attorneys did
close them and she also checks off on them.
And once she confirms they are closed, she has to go in
and file them alphabetically into a large file cabinet.
While observing her, I learned that she’s very detail
oriented. She pays attention to the quality that the work is
doing and also makes sure she’s doing it correctly and she can
pick up on her mistakes very quickly. So, after this observation, I confirmed with
her that she would be open o to pursuing clerical as a
theme. I had also discussed the possibility of employment
at this particular law office. However, her mom had
previously discussed this as well. And informed me that
they were not open because of budgeting reasons. So the next
work experience that Terry did was at a vet hospital and I was
able to identify this particular location by using my social capital
with another co-worker who knew about this place.
And so, Terry was able to help the vet examine a group of
rescue dogs. There were about five dogs who came in at different
times and Terry would help hold the dog so that the vet could
give them the proper care and make sure the dog should be in
good health. Terry was able to follow the doctor’s instructions
very well. And she even asked Terry some questions
such as, you know, why she needed to hold the dog a certain
okay t way. And what she liked about the veterinarian field.
Terry was very excited about this, and I confirmed this working
for her animals. The next work experience that Terry
completed was at a gym doing clerical tasks. And again, I used
my social capital because this was a previous employer that
had and some of the job duties that Terry did, she had to input
client information into a computer system so whenever a new client
would come into the gym, they would have to fill out a form.
And then that form needed to be put into the computer
system. Then once Terry put that into the computer system, she
also needed to fill out a form. By watching her, I could tell she was, again,
very organized. She was able to recognize the mistakes
that she did without needing to prompt her at all. I also
learned that she was uncomfortable answering phones which was
something that was important to identify. And again, she enjoyed
this clerical work experience. So, using our social capital,
we were discussing Terry’s interests, skulls and themes
during a team meeting and our program manager had mentioned
that she knows or she has a contact at a local law office
and she was able to arrange an informational interview. So the
program manager went to meet with this law office.
Woe learned that this office is going digital and they ever
thousands of cases that need to be scanned into the computer
system. And so, part of the tasks would be to check these files,
make sure there are no staples, no paper clips, no CDs, no
medical files or original files into the folders and then they
would be put back into their boxes and then taken to be scanned.
Negotiated at a work experience for Terry. So, at the law office, she worked doing tasks,
she was closing out files on the computer similarly
to what she was doing at her volunteer opportunity but Terry pick
you up on the task pretty quickly but she was doing some of the
closings independently from myself and the individuals
who were kind of overseeing this work experience. And after
this work experience and we were able to negotiate a
position for Terry. Terry works three days a week. Her customized
job to prepare the boxes to be scanned.
So, she will have three to four boxes per day on her desk
every morning and she will go through them again, making sure
there are no paper clips, no staples, basically, anything that
cannot be scanned. And she will go through them, put them back
in the box, and then notify one of her supervisors that the boxes
are ready to be scanned. Or, if she needs more boxes. So, her
daily plan, she goes to work. One for her to take a break, one
to start cleaning up once she’s near the end of her shift. She
independently asks her ever supervisors or another co-worker
when she needs more boxes to complete. And brought to the
scanner. So, the on site support since Terry started
has been very great. They’re so appreciated to them. Everybody
takes the time to go say hi to her. I think there are
50 or so employees, they’re all walking around the office and
every one of them stops and says hi and thanks her for what she’s
doing. I was able to start fading from the job site
about three week 92 her employment. Mainly because she
picked up the task really quickly and because of the great on
site support that she has. I would say about five weeks in her
job, she was 100 percent independent. There was even talk
about expanding her role.
When discussing that with Terry, she was more excited to
work more hours and keep doing these tasks because of the great
on site support and independence that she has.
>>TOMOYA LAMBERSON: All right. Hello, I’m Tomoya
Lamberson. I’m another one of the employment specialists
working on the customized employment grant. I’m going to be
talking today about Randy. He graduated high school in 2018.
While he’s in high school, he helped tutor children, a couple
12 year-old children in math, English, history for about four
hours a week. This is just for two years. He worked also as
a sum err camp counselor as a volunteer the. He helped kind
of just — and enjoys caring for and walking his dog.
Discovery activities include interviewing with Randy and
his papers. Talk with Randy about what did he enjoy about
tutoring the children. What did he enjoy about his summer camp
counselor position. These included observations and
informational interviews at familiar and unfamiliar places so
familiar talked about, I contacted his previous employer me was
a tutor talking about how was he interacting with the children.
What did he enjoy about it? Unfamiliar interviews and
observations included going to a local museum where we toured
around the facility. I got to see how many he enjoyed talking about
and learning about the hist. It was a civil war museum
and I really saw how many he liked to interact with myself about
what he’s learning and add additional information that he knew
about. We also toured an assisted living facility
where he got to learn more about what was provided at the
facility, meet some of the residents. This also included work
where he got to help with a bingo activity, where he helped hand
out chips, got to call out the numbers for bingo and interact
with the residents and help clean up afterwards.
From these discovery activities, I learned he really likes
entertainment. Specifically the film industry. He really
enjoyed American history. That was seen hats the museum. He
enjoys antecedent acing with older adults. The assisted living
facility, I got to see him interact with these adults, talking
about what about what activities, I also learned he has limited
access to transportation. He had used transportation before,
explained he did not enjoy it. His transportation. Things
that came out were entertainment, working with children and
history. These can came through discovery activities and
observations of The job development plan was put together
based off his names that were set. And based off this plan
and several informational interviews were conducted to
help create a position. Add in a a lot of their employment
relies on either volunteer work or possess higher education
that Randy did not possess. The assisted living also.
In canvassing his neighborhood, I came across a local movie
theater that fit his entertainment employment theme,
specifically the film industry. I met with the manager there
and learned more about the tasks that were conducted by
employees there. I learned that they were interested in having
someone specifically focus on ticket taking. The employees
usually have to rotate between ticket taking and concession
stands. Box office and concession stands wasn’t really
what Randy was interested in. We met with the manager
and conducted an interview where Randy talked about his interests
and his interest until the ticket taking position.
In it was learned that he had a food allergy that really was
pushing him away from the concession stand, specifically to dairy
products and nut allergies. That position ended up not coming
out after Randy was a not able to work around some previous
traveling arrangements he had set that the employer
was not willing to customize around.
In canvassing his neighborhood again, I came across a child
care facility that was in walking distance of the house W. this
child care facility, I met with the interviewer where I learned
how the operation runs e, what the facility provides. The
director had us come in and we were able to tour the facility,
shadow a teacher, see how they interact with children, the
policies that are run, how they conduct their classrooms and
from there, a position was customized. Because of the walking distance, this really
met his transportation needs. He was able to walk
easily to the employer. He lives in kind of an integrated
residential business community with sidewalks that he
was able to easily get to
the location. He works Monday through Friday, four hours
a day. Here, he helps me teachers keep track of children,
interacts with the children, promotes safety, distributes and
cleans up the snacks, collects and cleans up the nap cots and
accompanies children to the play area. Occasionally, he’ll help clean up with the
dash dishes and other tasks that are asked of him. So, Randy’s
needs. National support, if he needed to learn how
to do a task, often, he was shown. If he had a question, allot
of times explanations helped him remember and address that concern
he had. When he first started, he was working with
age groups five and up because he was less comfortable working
with younger than that so say four down to infants but as he
was exposed more and more to this, shadowing teachers, seeing how
to best work with infants, he became more comfortable. Also,
explanations as to why, to adjust your approach toward different
age groups, adjusting your approach works best based off
their age, how they accept.
Visual aids were used at times. With cleaning the dishes.
He had to remember exactly how much soap, the amount of
sanitizing solution went into each sync, water pump. Basic
visual aids, over each thing. He also needed some assistance in learning
to cope with loud noises. This was observed after I realized
he seemed sensitive to loud noises when say like a child
was screaming or crying loudly, he would kind of once and
turn away. Seemed to avoid the child.
So, we address this by having him redirect the attention
as we work with a task. I wasn’t with him when this occurred
but I got a call from the director saying an incident had
occurred where they came across Randy kind of drying and
breaking down in the hallway and it was found out that someone
had walked in on him in the bathroom and the bathrooms at the
facility, they don’t have a window, he forgot to lock the door.
The director accidentally walked in on him, apologized and shut
the door. Turned out that Randy thought he was in trouble
so I contacted Randy and he explained the same
thing to me. That he was crying and saying that they walked
in on him, they saw him, that he was for sure going to be fired.
So I explained to him it wasn’t an issue at all. You didn’t
do anything wrong. What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen
in the future. We together with the director came up with
a simple solution creating a magnet with the word occupied on
it. Shaped like an O to kind of fit the whole child theme.
This was put on the inside of the door. If you did happen
to lock the door, someone would see that she was occupied.
This also helps all the other employees. This helped to
ease his comfort level in using the bathroom. So, after all this was implemented, I faded
more and more off site.
>>JENNIFER MCDONOUGH: Thank you so much for joining us.
If you have more questions, please see our website here.
Https://drrp.org. In addition, if you could like to talk to
us more about employment, please post your questions on our
website. Thank you so much and have a great week.

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