Circle Seven Workforce Board

(ODEP Demonstration Program)
Organization Contact Information / Project Contact Information / Innovative Practices / Project Details

Organization Contact Information

Name of Organization Circle Seven Workforce Board
Director of Organization Lance Ratliff
Contact Lance Ratliff
Contact Title Executive Director
Street Address P.O. Box 69, South State Street
City Greenfield
State IN
Zip Code 46140
Phone Number 317-467-0248
Email Address LanceRatliff@netscape.net
Website Address http://www.circle7jobs.com/
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.
   

Project Contact Information

Grantee Project Name Interlocal Association’s Youth with Disabilities Project
Contact Becky Branham
Contact Title Program Director
Street Address P.O. Box 69, 869 South State Street
City Greenfield
State IN
Zip Code 46140
Phone Number 317-467-0248 x301
Email Address Beckybranham@hotmail.com
   

Innovative Practices

Program Structure/Design

The purpose of the Interlocal Association’s (IA) Youth with Disabilities Grant funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy was to support demonstration projects to help Workforce Investment Act (WIA)-assisted youth programs develop the capacity to serve youth with disabilities. Although youth with disabilities had been served under previous employment and training programs during the latter years of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), with the implementation of WIA, services such as work experience, summer employment, and others decreased substantially. IA looked to expand and enhance the quality of services to youth with disabilities.

For this project, in addition to the One-Stop consortium partners, IA partnered and contracted with two organizations that brought a very strong disability background to the project. The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC) brought research, technical assistance, data, models for program and curriculum development, training assistance, and methods for evaluation. This included the development of a policy paper on alternative performance standards that made recommendations on alternative ways to measure performance outcomes. The Arc of Indiana provided technical assistance, and perhaps most importantly, a consumer perspective from youth with disabilities and their parents. Three additional collaborating organizations - Franklin Community High School, Special Services of Johnson County, and Gateway Services/The Arc of Johnson County – provided expertise and knowledge. Also providing assistance and coordination was the Marion County/Indianapolis workforce system that had an ODEP Customized Employment grant. The Hamilton-Madison-Boone Special Education Cooperative, Lebanon High School, and Ball State University also played roles in the project’s activities and outcomes.


Workforce Preparatory & Work-based 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 & Leadership Opportunities

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.


Individualized & Support Services (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

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.


   

Project Details

Project 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.


Project Services

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.


Data Collection and Use

The project collected demographic data on the youth with disabilities served – age, gender, race/ethnicity, educational level, type of disability, and employment status. Other information about the youth collected included address, phone, date of birth, In/Out-of-School status, name of school if an in-school youth, and program application date. A youth’s Social Security number was recorded where possible, and was required for all who were placed on paid work-based activities. The services provided to youth were captured along with date, site location, wage information as well as post- program participation/program outcomes, including employment, continuation with post-secondary training or other training. Information on the types of services provided to family members was collected as well as the individual’s family status (mother, parent, sibling, etc.). Additional information was collected on youth concurrently enrolled in Workforce Investment Act services.

When services were provided, participants were asked to complete evaluations. While the One-Stop has historically conducted customer satisfaction surveys, this is something not routinely done in classroom settings. Worksite supervisors also provided evaluations. Evaluation surveys, time cards (with employee evaluations) were provided to project staff. Trainers were provided copies and/or summaries of the evaluations.

The project Service Strategy Team and Training Team were provided information regarding participants, services, and training participation. These teams were responsible for the development and implementation of services and training and the evaluations assisted them in adapting/modifying activities. The Project Management Team received the quarterly U.S. DOL report as well as reports from the Service Strategy and Training Teams at the monthly Management Team meetings. The Circle Seven Youth Council also received reports on the grant’s activities and outcomes.


Project Plans and Outcomes

Each of the partners and collaborators involved with the project participated in the strategic planning of the project. The project established the following five objectives to guide its activities:

  • Develop and implement a strategic plan, which will include youth, parents and advocacy groups, for identification, recruitment, and service delivery to and for in-and out-of-school youth with disabilities.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate customized curriculum and service intervention and strategies that enhance, improve, support, and expand the capacity of WIA-assisted youth programs and One-Stop partners in serving youth with disabilities.
  • Provide staff development and training and technical assistance to WIA/One-Stop staff, educators, parents, employers, and community organizations.
  • Develop alternative methods of measuring WIA performance outcomes.
  • Disseminate to local, regional, and national audiences the project’s outcomes and products, promoting best practices, successful strategies, and techniques in serving greater numbers of youth with disabilities, including those with cognitive, intellectual and non-visible disabilities.

The section on Project Services details how the first three objectives were implemented. The following chart shows the service strategies that were developed involving youth.

Type of Youth Program Service

Total No. of Youth
Receiving Service

1. Career Assessments

78

2. Occupational Skills/Career Exploration 72
3. Field/Site Visits 71
4. Work Readiness Skills – Customer Service Training 70
5. Support Services – Referrals – Transportation 41
6. Work Experiences – Earlywood 31
7. FCHS Intensive Program 26
8. Work Experiences – Job Placement 22
9. FCHS Achiever Program 19
10. Youth Development & Leadership – Goal Setting 19
11. Work Readiness – Orientation to Work Program 11
12. COFACS: Cooperative Occupational Family & Consumer Science - Career Opportunities 10
13. Internships – HS/HT 9
14. IC3 computer certification class 9
15. Career Exploration & Development of Career Plan 8
16. Stay in School Program 7
17. Work Readiness Skills – Mock interviews 6
18. Academic classroom /Senior Project 6
19. Support Services – Referrals – Medicaid/Waiver 3
20. Support Services – Referrals- Housing 1

This project resulted in lasting system changes, including the following:

  • One-Stop’s Summer Jobs Clearinghouse program, the educational and work experience, and summer internships. Franklin High School students participating in an internship are able to earn up to three high school credits.
  • Formation of Johnson County Transition Council.
  • A Transition Exposition and Parent Training Program.
  • The Circle Seven Youth Council and WIB implemented the High School/High Tech program elements as the basis for its WIA service plan for all youth
  • Alternative performance standards
  • Implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding between Special Services and local schools, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the One-Stop system that outlined a new, aggressive and earlier delivery of transition services and allowed for sharing of relevant information about the youth.
  • Continued involvement of One-Stop with Franklin Community High School programs – Pathways, Career Opportunities in Family & Consumer Science, Winter Intensive program, Achiever Program, Reality Store, Orientation to Work as well as participating in work readiness activities in classroom and outside of class, including interview preparation, mock interviews, etc.
  • Continued involvement of One-Stop with Special Services of Johnson County’s Stay-in-School Alternative education program.
  • Continued participation in Disability Mentoring Day, Job Shadow Ground Hog Day, and March Disability Awareness Month.

Another systems change as a result of this project was a change in the way the Youth Council and WIBs define disability for purposes of identifying the need of service under WIA.

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