Nonprofit Organizations Utilize Technical Assistance Center to Improve Employment Services
by Adrianne Murchison
Three Georgia employment service providers have been selected for specialized planning and training sessions in order to provide best practice support for people with disabilities in their organizations.
Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services in Albany, Lookout Mountain Community Service Board in Chickamauga and DeKalb Community Services Board in Lithonia have started receiving technical assistance through Advancing Employment, a program managed by the Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD) at the University of Georgia.
'These are agencies who provide residential programs for people with disabilities,' said Doug Crandell, project director for Advancing Employment. 'We are helping them to provide employment support on behalf of the person with a disability.'
Technical assistance for the three nonprofits is funded through a $60,000 grant awarded to IHDD by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD).
The Technical Assistance Center and its Community of Practice helps organizations to strengthen their employment services.
The three organizations that are receiving assistance were among several applicants in a scored process. The application included such questions as 'What are you doing now to advance employment for the people you serve?' and 'What can our grants do for you?'
Each organization receives individualized training with of goals and objectives in a transformation plan that enables them to provide more employment services.
'We've done the initial site visits to see what they want to accomplish with assistance ranging from getting a contract with [Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency] to hiring staff, working with their boards and more,' said Crandell. 'What we hope is the Community of Practice will be long term; and that we can help more than three organizations and provide training on site and elsewhere.'
The Community of Practice is a virtual space within Advancing Employment where providers can share information, receive new training through webinars and utilize resources that will ultimately serve people with developmental disabilities in their employment goals.
Georgia becoming an Employment First State has encouraged Crandell about increasing awareness and acceptance of employers to hire people with developmental disabilities.
Since Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill last spring, Crandell has served as a panelist at forums on the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program, hosted by the Office of Disability Employment Policy within the Department of Labor.
'In the past, while these agencies have offered employment services, it hasn't been the most focused on,' said Crandell. 'It takes a lot of work in a state to move provider agencies and funding on Employment First. Our staff is working diligently with community employers and GCDD to further employment for people with disabilities in Georgia.'