Greater Opportunities is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, NDEAM aims to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Learn how you can support NDEAM.

Did you know, California has one of lowest employment rates in the country (13%) for people with developmental disabilities? And that there has been no improvement in their employment rate for decades? In response, the Federal and State governments have promulgated an “Employment First” policy, directing service providers to prioritize creation of community-based, full-wage, integrated employment opportunities for persons served.

Employers can make a difference by recognizing persons with disabilities as a valuable recruitment resource. Larry Landauer, Executive Director of the Regional Center of Orange County, comments: “… With the right coaching, many people with developmental disabilities can work effectively side-by-side with typical employees, and truly enhance the workplace.” In addition to promoting workforce diversity and a positive corporate image, Larry cites several good reasons to consider hiring people with developmental disabilities:

  • Workers with developmental disabilities tend to be reliable, dedicated, and loyal employees with a positive attitude and work ethic.
  • Employees with developmental disabilities exhibit lower turnover and lower absenteeism.
  • There are federal tax incentives for hiring individuals with disabilities.
  • No-cost help is available to match employer needs with workers who have the right job skills, and to provide on-the-job training and ongoing support.

Likewise, service providers like Greater Opportunities can make a difference by prioritizing vocational skill development and by working with employers to facilitate job placement and retention. Here at Greater Opportunities, we take our responsibility seriously and are enthusiastically committed to developing vocational skills and job opportunities for the people we serve, while developing partnerships with a variety of employers. Over the past year, for example, we added a new Day Program staff position for “Resource Developer” who is focused on paid and volunteer job development. Vocational skills instruction is offered at the Day Program, ranging from basic literacy skills to money management and computer skills. Our vehicle fleet has been expanded to transport consumers to job sites. Working with a variety of employers, we placed a dozen consumers in competitive wage jobs with Sturken Auto/RV Repair, South Bay Honda, BJs Brewhouse Restaurants, McDonalds, and Hometown Buffet. Over the next year, our goal is to place at least another eight consumers in jobs.

Getting a job brings independence, income, new friends and co-workers, and pride in making a productive contribution. Liz’s story illustrates how Greater Opportunities’ range of services support her to live, work and play as an active, included, and productive member of the community.

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