The Women's Journal

Easterseals Supported Employment: Dream Jobs For Dream Employees

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By Natalie Scott

When most young adults graduate from high school, they typically know which direction they are going to head, whether it be attending college or jumping right into a job. When Mikayla graduated from high school, she and her mom, Michele, knew exactly where to turn and it was the place where she began many years before, Easterseals! 

“Mikayla had a good foundation as a child, thanks to the Easterseals’ Children’s Therapy program. So when she graduated, for me, there was no other choice, it was Easterseals,” Michele says. “If you have a differently-abled person in your life, you need Easterseals, because you’ll never find the caliber of expertise and caring with any other program. Mikayla is proof of that. She now utilizes the Easterseals’ Supported Employment program as an adult, which has helped her blossom even more while also gaining some financial independence.”   

Easterseals’ Supported Employment gives adults with intellectual disabilities, including autism, the choice to experience the community through individualized employment. The program matches participants with jobs in local businesses so they can earn competitive wages with the assistance of job coaching and training.

Mikayla has Down Syndrome, based on her skill set, she would thrive working within a business in the community. Her Employment Specialist, Camille, connected her with a position at Grotto Pizza, where she can interact with co-workers and customers. Easterseals’ Supported Employment matches participants with jobs in local businesses so they can earn competitive wages with the assistance of job coaching and training.

“I love Easterseals and Miss Camille, my Employment Specialist! She helped me get my job so I can work every day and I get to do a good job to get my paycheck,” Mikayla says. “Miss Camille always makes sure I’m okay and she makes sure DART picks me up on time. I get to make new friends and see my friends at work. I love it.”

When she is not working, Mikayla loves going out to eat and is a huge movie buff. She is also incredibly generous with the money she earns. She often treats her mom and friends to dinner or ice cream. Mikayla stays well-connected with friends and Blue Gold buddies. During the summer, Mikayla enjoys her time swimming and being with her friends at Easterseals’ Camp Fairlee.

“Mikayla is happy and thriving. Easterseals got her where she needs to be. Each person is different and Easterseals pairs them up with someone who will hone-in on all of the aspects of that child,” Michele says. “Easterseals makes sure Mikayla learns and grows from her job. When Mikayla’s outside of the home at work, I feel 100% confident her best interests are being met and that means a lot. It is so much more than a job to the people at Easterseals. Camille is there when I am not and I need her to be. It is me and Easterseals. We are her advocates. They are ‘Mom 2.0.’”

Once individuals are trained in their position, they work independently with the support of co-workers. Easterseals’ Employment Specialists provide ongoing individualized training and coaching to ensure long-term success on the job.

“It is about quality of life. Mikayla is happy and self-confident. She enjoys getting paid and being able to pay for things herself. None of it would have been possible without Easterseals,” Michele says. “There is no excuse for our kids not to shine and thrive with everything Easterseals offers at our fingertips. All you have to do is pick up the phone!”

Currently, Easterseals works with more than 60 businesses statewide supporting more than 80 individuals with disabilities in competitive employment. To learn more about how Easterseals can help you find the perfect employee for your business, call Jane Schuler at 302-324-4444.

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is more than double that of workers without disabilities. Many people with disabilities want to work, but have not been able to secure jobs because of accessibility and attitudinal barriers. As a result, labor force participation for individuals with disabilities is less than 1/3 of general labor force participation. 

Easterseals Kent County center is located at 100 Enterprise Place, Suite 1, Dover, DE 19904

Easterseals in New Castle County is located at 61 Corporate Circle, New Castle, DE 19720

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