Circle Seven Workforce Board

Organization
Organization Name: 
Circle Seven Workforce Board
Organization Director: 
Lance Ratliff
Program Name: 
Interlocal Association's Youth with Disabilities Project
Street Address: 
P.O. Box 69, South State Street
City: 
Greenfield
State: 
IN
Contact
Contact Person: 
Lance Ratliff
Contact Title: 
Executive Director
Contact E-mail: 
Program
Organization Profile: 
The mission of the Circle Seven Workforce Investment Board is to become the focal point for all workforce related activity, bringing together the collective resources of all existing services within the local community of the Circle Seven area, the seven central Indiana counties that surround Indianapolis. The Circle Seven One-Stop Consortium partners are Interlocal Association ("IA" - Workforce Investment Act provider), Indiana Department of Workforce Development (Wagner-Peyser, Unemployment Insurance, and Veterans services) and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS). Within the Circle Seven area there is a full service One-Stop Center and six express offices. The Circle Seven One-Stop Operators Consortium business objective is to provide a comprehensive array of services that match up with the individual needs of both employers and job-seekers.
Program Summary: 

This project supported capacity building of those within the workforce development system that serve youth with disabilities in order to expand the number and enhance the quality of services provided. Efforts began early to involve teachers. Materials were developed to reach as many teachers as possible by providing them with program and service information. The project focused on Franklin Community High School, although contact was also made with the other six school districts in the county and the special education and career/vocational education cooperatives.

Adult service providers were contacted through individual contacts and meetings. Other contacts included Indiana Parents Information Network (IPIN), IN*SOURCE, (Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs), Best Buddies of Indiana, Special Olympics, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Johnson County, Methodist Home of Lebanon, and Atterbury Job Corps Community Relations Council.

Extensive outreach was made to reach students who might be eligible for WIA services. Presentations were made to students in the classroom at area high schools and in the One-Stop offices. A regular schedule was established at one school, Franklin Community High School, in which a display booth was setup during the lunch hour. Teachers brought classes to the nearby One-Stop office for orientations and tours. Display booths were set up at the Special Olympics Annual Banquet and at the county fair.

Program Structure/Design: 

In the first year of the project, teachers identified students they felt appropriate for services and referred them to the One-Stop, particularly for summer work experience and internships. Franklin High School identified 18 potential youth for High School/High Tech (HS/HT) program activities. Johnson County Special Services identified 23. Clark-Pleasant School Corporation (Whiteland High School) identified seven potential youth for HS/HT activities and provided information about out-of-school youth from Whiteland. HS/HT is a comprehensive transition program for students with disabilities, while providing opportunities to explore careers in science and technology. Students involved with special education, referred by the school, could receive high school credit for employment. During the grant's second year, as services became incorporated with class activities, contact was made with the students by the project staff at the schools.

Another customer targeted was the employer community. During the grant's first year a focus of the projects marketing plan to One-Stop's focused on participating in summer employment. Individual contacts with seventy-seven employers were made to acquaint them with the program and ascertain their possible interest in participating by employing youth with the Summer Jobs Clearinghouse and HS/HT projects. Working with a local human resources organization, a training program for the business community was presented. By adopting service activities involving Disability Mentoring Day, Job Shadow Ground Hog Day and Disability Awareness Month, project and partner staff were able to reach out to the business community with a positive approach and message. Materials developed by national organizations were used.

Outreach was conducted to out-of-school youth to determine their status and to provide services, where appropriate. For example, in one outreach effort attempts were made to contact 32 out-of-school youth. Successful contact was made with 24 of the youth. From these contacts, referrals were made to the One-Stop Center for G.E.D. classes, job seeking skills, job opportunities and to Vocational Rehabilitation and the Bureau of Developmental Services.

The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community conducted an inventory of current materials, identifying gaps in resources for people with disabilities including cognitive, speech, hearing, and/or physical impairment. A service strategy to improve the overall delivery of transition services was developed. A series of meetings were held, including summer meetings, with representatives from the project and educators to discuss and plan new and coordinated Vocational Rehabilitation transition services.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed between the Special Service of Johnson Country, the local school, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and the One-Stop System that outlined an approach for the aggressive and earlier delivery of transition services. Included, in the agreement, is the sharing of information about youth so that parties can coordinate services and better prepare to serve youth.

States of Operation: 
IN
ODEP Funded: 
Yes
Profile Year: 
2007
Innovative Practices
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: 

The project incorporated a number of activities designed to expose youth to career and occupational opportunities providing information about wages, educational requirements, and employment information. Activities included classroom activities, site visits, and work-based experiences. Six notable classroom activities (described in detail below) were implemented or strengthened as a result of the Youth with Disabilities (YwD) grant. For the first time, "Blast Off," an inclusive Franklin High School "Winter Intensive" class, had 21 students with special needs involved. This three-week for credit program uses community-based learning projects. Students learned math and science skills, built and launched rockets, visited a planetarium, watched videos, including one from Kennedy Space Center, and heard a speaker from NASA.

In "Technology Survivor Skills: Going Beyond the Games," a class offering in IC3 (Internet and Computing Core Certification) training, nine students with disabilities successfully attained the Indiana Certificate of Technical Achievement and seven students successfully received the industry recognized IC3 Certification. State grant funding paid for the training, which was developed by Ball State University.

"Pathways," a required class for all Franklin freshmen, is taught over the course of a semester. One-Stop materials and information were provided to classes by the grant. Pathways is an occupational/career awareness program designed to assist students plan for their future. Work readiness skills are part of the curriculum.

In the fall of 2004, a new inclusive Franklin program was also developed and offered. "COFACS - Cooperative Occupational Family & Consumer Science for High School Students: Career Opportunities in Family and Consumer Sciences." The plans are for this to be a two-year course for students enrolled in the program. It is taught by a team of special and general education teachers. All students are required to have some type of employment.

"Orientation to Work," a work readiness program for students in special education, was expanded to include activities at the One-Stop office. Classes at the One-Stop were scheduled at least twice a month with project staff responsible for providing the class offering as related to work and career and employment opportunities.

"Stay in School," an alternative education program was, developed and implemented in the fall of 2004 with nine students. A project of Special Services of Johnson County, the county school high schools and the grant, this program for students with severe disabilities are teaching basic education and training. Interest has grown to the extent that two additional schools are discussing the development of similar programs with Interlocal Association staff.

Other work-based experiences including site visits, job shadowing, internships, and paid employment were implemented to encourage youth to learn about employment and training opportunities available as they transition from school to work. The project also sponsored a "Transitional Exposition and Parent Training Program," in which adult service providers, post secondary schools, and community organizations provided information relevant to the post high school years. Two national activities became grant activities -- participation in Disability Mentoring Day in October and Job Shadow Ground Hog Day in February.

Youth also participated in paid work experiences. Youth were placed in summer internships including positions in welding, office operations, industry, recreational, and transportation. . Franklin students developed portfolios, received high school credit, and several positions continued during the school year.

Youth Development and Leadership: 

A group of seniors who were in the Special Services Contemporary Issues class created senior quilts with each having a center piece commemorating an event, activity or experience from their school career. Students participated in community service projects by completing quilt blocks donated to an organization of their choice.

The project also sponsored Franklin Community High School's Achiever Program. Three hundred fifty students were honored including 17 Youth with Disabilities Grant participants. The Achiever Program was established to recognize those students, who in a semester were "achievers" as related to excellence in attendance, completion of homework assignments, and student behavior.

Other youth development and leadership efforts were included in the curriculum of the Stay in School program, the Cooperative Occupational Family & Consumer Science For High School Students: Career Opportunities in Family and Consumer Sciences Program (COFACS), and in the Pathways and Orientation to Work classes. Each contains self-determination and advocacy components. Additionally three youth with disabilities involved with the project were recognized for their leadership talents and were nominated and appointed to the Circle Seven Youth Council. For example, one of the youth became involved with the project in his junior year and was placed in an internship with a local industrial firm. As a student, he had been a quiet and shy study. As a result of the internships, he developed a vocational interest in welding and he helped other students. His teachers were amazed by his development and credit the youth grant with the changes.

Job Shadow and Disability Mentoring days exposed youth to business/employer role models. Informational materials and guides were purchased related to leadership and youth development with focus on disability culture and pride. In 2004, Disability Awareness Month activities were designed around the theme, "Inclusion Now," using materials from the Governor's Planning Council. "Inclusion Now" focused on voting as well as community integration -- "OURS...to Fight for Freedom from Exclusion." At the end of the project, efforts were underway to establish a local Best Buddies, peer-to-peer mentoring program and a mentoring program between Franklin College students and at-risk youth.

Connecting Activities: 
Youth who participated with the project received limited support services. Not surprisingly the most identified need was transportation support. Forty-one youth were referred for transportation supports. During the project, Access Johnson County, the county public transportation program, received a grant that assisted with transportation supports. Franklin Community High School provided transportation to all school sponsored site visits and field trips. Project and partner staff, on an individualized basis, provided transportation to work or job shadow sites for youth. Project staff learned that many parents and youth were unaware of the availability of Medicaid Waiver. In Indiana, it is important that youth apply for this waiver before finishing high school because there is a long waiting list for services. The Arc of Indiana, a grant partner, provided staff and parent training sessions, Grant staff worked with State officials to facilitate individuals who had not applied to apply and joint the waiting list.
Family Involvement and Supports: 
The project also targeted parents and family members. Presentations were made at parent school functions and display booths exhibited. Orientation and training programs were developed that were intended to support parents as they looked at educational and post high school issues their families face. Ninety-three parents, two grandparents, and 16 siblings attended programs offered. The project sponsored and participated in parent-teacher conferences, orientation programs, Transition Exposition/Fair, and a Parent Appreciation Program. Training topics presented included Medicaid Waiver Training, Parent's Perspective as You Look to Your Child's Future, Post-Secondary Opportunities, One-Stop Services including VR, Effective Transition & Community-Based Employment Supports for Youth with Emotional & Behavioral Challenges, Parent Connect, and Transition Services: Can We Talk? In the fall of 2004, a High School Parent Support Group began.

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