Columbia, South Carolina - Since 2015, the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN) has been fully committed to competitive integrated employment for those eligible for services. “DDSN believes that employment outcomes (and individual employment in particular) for adults of working age are the most meaningful.” This assurance is outlined in the state Directive 700-07-DD.
On November 7, 2022, twenty-three new Employment Specialists from various statewide DDSN contracted providers, attended a comprehensive training titled “Employment First – Achieving the Outcome.” The focus of this Best Practices training is to provide strategies to create and maintain employment success in which both the employer and employee find a successful match in the workplace.
The role of DDSN and other state agencies was clearly defined to ensure that individuals served are provided the appropriate opportunity to seek employment. These agencies include South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department the agency responsible for employment for anyone with a disability, including those with the most significant disabilities. The South Carolina Department of Education Office of Special Education whose mission and vision is to ensure that students with disabilities in South Carolina receive knowledge and skills in preparation for success in college, careers, and citizenship.
This one-day training, hosted by DDSN’s Susan Davis and Becky Peters, included many focus areas as well as real-life examples of employment strategies in action. Training topics included: Discovering an individual’s strengths, interests, and experiences; exposure to a trial work assessment in a natural setting; promoting informed choice; and endorsing person-centeredness.
In addition, strategies were provided on overcoming barriers to employment that the jobseeker may experience. Related topics highlighted were the importance of seeking benefit counseling to eliminate fear of losing the check and navigating the Supplemental Security Income or SSI system. Obstacles due to the lack of transportation were also discussed and community resources were shared.
Lastly, knowledge was shared on practical approaches for: negotiating employment opportunities; including job carving, establishing natural supports; utilizing coaching tools; and establishing relationships to promote the individual’s importance as a team member.
As a whole, this workshop provided training on core job functions of an Employment Specialist who provides Employment Services-Individual to those served by SC DDSN. Other positive outcomes for those in attendance were, Career networking, The Certified Employment Support Professional™ or CESP which is continuing education credit through the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst or (APSE), and tangible ways to practice employment service delivery.
DDSN Provider Trainings are held on a regular basis throughout the state.
The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is the state agency that plans, develops, coordinates and funds services for South Carolinians with the severe, lifelong disabilities of:
- intellectual disability and related disabilities
- autism spectrum disorder
- traumatic brain injury
- spinal cord injury and similar disability
For more information about DDSN, please visit https://ddsn.sc.gov .
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