The 2014 grant supported high school youth with disabilities by providing the following employment education experience. We experienced no delays in expenditures. Funds were utilized at the time they were received. The monies were expended as outlined in the grant proposal for the following activities.
On-site job coaching: Students received coaching from our staff in a team setting. Enclaves of students went out in the community to work in real businesses. This experience allowed them to build relationships with employers and help set them up for success in the working world. Some of the businesses that have partnered with us include TJ Maxx, Rite Aid, and Burlington Coat Factory. We have plans to expand the program by partnering with a wider range of industries for students to learn skills from a wider variety of professional backgrounds.
Class curriculum: Every day of the year, our students receive 1 hour of classroom training that teaches them to be ready for the working world. Various topics include customer service, social skills, self-maintenance and financial education.
Personal mentoring: Our instructors work closely with our students to provide personalized support to encourage positive behaviors in our students. This support promotes a healthy transition in to the community. When our students are encouraged to make good choices about their behavior, they are able to improve their independence in the community. We did accomplish what we proposed to do. The greatest concern was the decrease in funding that would compel Entrust Community Services to have to exit students who had been accepted in to the program. All students were able to stay. We served: 22 students, 14 Students who returned for 2015-2016 school year, 8 Students who completed the program in 2015 and 5 out of 8 (63%) students transitioned into employment program.
Legislative developments have come to our attention that we expect will increase funding to support the ongoing operations of this program. We anticipate the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation allocating a greater number of dollars toward high school transition services for students with disabilities. Entrust Community Services is eligible to receive this money for serving greater numbers of high school students. Our expectation is to see this increase in funding provide additional support for the future of the program.
One identified need for this program is to hire a Placement Specialist that can support the job placement process for recent graduates. This position helps build partnerships in the community with local businesses and other vocational training programs to support improved placement rates in the community.
The next need for this program is a Placement Specialist for the Youth Transition Programs. Placement Specialists are important because they help the client navigate the complexities of finding a job. They are just as important at getting our youth job ready as the educational staff themselves. Much of the work of the Placement Specialist is also wrapped up in building partnerships with local businesses and other vocational training programs in the area.
Each Placement Specialist can secure anywhere from 20 to 30 opportunities a year. Each opportunity has the potential to be a job that pays $10 an hour for 20 hours of week. If each opportunity turns in to a lifetime of employment, that could lead to over $400,000 per client in lifetime earnings!
You can learn more about Entrust Community Services on their website.