Customized Employment: A Different Approach
Individuals with disabilities often face challenges when it comes to finding a job. Discriminatory hiring practices, physical barriers in the workplace, and lack of accommodations in the workplace may be a few obstacles to overcome.
JCFS Chicago’s Duman Opportunity Center offers various degrees of support for job seekers, such as Customized Employment, a job creation strategy based on the skills of the person seeking employment. The Customized Employment process creates a brand-new position based on their individual abilities, as well as benefits to the potential employer. This is how it starts:
The Discovery Phase
An intensive intake process helps the team at Duman get to know the individual’s interests, skills, and abilities. This involves talking with the person’s family, teachers, support network, and others to gain a deeper understanding of what makes them successful and what environment would be best for them. While this step can take a while, it provides valuable information for the individual’s future employment success.
The next step is to create a customized plan for employment. The plan details which industries to research, and targets employers that would be a good fit for the individual. With this plan in place, the team approaches potential businesses and works with the individual, family members, and the employer to create a customized job opportunity.
John* has gone through the Customized Employment process and is currently working at a restaurant and bowling alley. He performs a variety of tasks that contribute to the success of the operation including busing tables, janitorial work, and alley maintenance. When he began working, a full-time job coach supported his training, but as John became more comfortable in his role the coach reduced their support. His supervisor and coworkers have grown very fond of John, and report that he has been doing an excellent job. Others who have used Duman’s Customized Employment services have been placed in retail stores, administrative support roles, and in the food service industry, all with positive results.
Employers have seen many benefits through customized employment. Through Duman, employers can access a pool of talented and motivated individuals who may not be performing work that meets their skills. Duman staff provides ongoing support to both the employee and employer to ensure a successful job match, including job coaching, training, and accommodations to help the employee integrate into the workplace. This results in a more diverse and inclusive workforce, increased productivity, and improved employee morale.
One of the goals of Customized Employment is to foster integration into the workplace culture and environment and help the individual gain independence. The team at Duman works with people to help them secure a job that they can eventually perform with little or no support. Over time, when receiving job coaching, the support is reduced until the individual can perform their job independently.
The Duman Opportunity Center’s Customized Employment services provide valuable services to individuals with disabilities by collaborating with employers to create jobs that fit their skills that are benefits to the businesses. This process helps individuals find meaningful work that improves their self-esteem and helps them achieve independence.
*Name changed for confidentiality.