A job can be a great way to make meaningful community connections and build one’s independence. Nothing reinforces one’s sense of self-worth and pride like a regular paycheck. A job can also give a person new skills, a place to make new friends, and interact with a mix of different people.
While it can be trickier to find a job for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there are resources in the Philly area—if you know where to look. Here’s a sampling of organizations that offer employment services and resources for people with IDD who want to work or gain new skills. The level of support varies, with some organizations offer not only help with job finding or placement, but also job skills training and ongoing coaching to help new employees acclimate and adapt to workplace expectations.
Community Integrated Services is on a mission to empower people with disabilities through individualized employment opportunities that foster self-sustainability, equality, and community. Partnerships with area businesses and organizations keep CIS in the loop, enabling it to find jobs for their clients.
Besides job coaching and long-term support to ensure success on the job, CIS connects clients with job discovery options. This can involve exploring careers through discovery, assessment, and real work experiences at companies in the community.
Since 1991, CIS has placed thousands of people in jobs. Clients have gotten jobs at a wide range of organizations, including Wawa, Olive Garden, the City of Philadelphia, and a manufacturing plant.
SpArc Services is a part of the SpArc Philadelphia family of organizations, a nonprofit that educates the community about inclusion and independence for all people with disabilities. It offers a range of employment programs that meet individuals wherever they are. SpArc serves adults ages 18 and older, offering job skills training, job placement, and job coaching.
To ensure a good job fit, staff members meet with the individual to develop an employment plan that matches skills and interests with potential job choices. Staff work to ensure that the level of support and job match are ideal. On-the-job coaching is available to ensure the new employee succeeds in the new job as long as the extra support is needed.
Through a partnership, SpArc also helps individuals get jobs at area PennDOT Driver’s License Centers. Job options include photo license technician or janitorial staff openings. The jobs are open to people of all abilities and offer flexible work schedules.
PATH’s (People Acting to Help, Inc.) mission is designed to help individuals achieve a more independent and fulfilling life. They specialize in helping adults with intellectual disabilities get the vocational support and training they need, whether they’re ready for a job or not. Its signature offerings are the Vocational Habilitation program and Community Integrated Employment Services.
For those who are not yet ready or do not wish to work at a job in the community, PATH offers the Vocational Habilitation program to teach adults with IDD vocational skills. Once the individual is comfortable enough, he or she can work with employment services staff to get a job in the community.
At PATH’s Keystone Street location in Northeast Philadelphia, adults may work on tasks such as hand and machine assembly, heat sealing and shrink wrapping, drilling, gluing, sorting, packaging, labeling, and occasional clerical jobs.
Professional staff will also help adults with IDD develop their social skills so that they can work collaboratively with others on the job in future work settings. The workplace environment is modeled after factory settings of area manufacturers. The service is licensed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare/Office of Developmental Programs.
PATH’s Community Integrated Employment Service helps adults with intellectual disabilities or adults with behavioral health disorders become as independent as possible by helping them find and keep a job.
A professional job coach will help with logistics, review newspapers, websites, and other job sources, help prepare the resume for prospective employers, and accompany the person on job interviews. Not only will the job coach work with the new employee at the job site to ensure the first days on the job go smoothly, she will work with the new employee until he or she is comfortable on the job and can do the job independently. Initial meetings and job planning meetings take place at PATH’s Frankford Avenue location in Northeast Philly.
Programs Employing People (PEP) is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that helps match employers with reliable, well-trained workers from PEP through its Community Integrated Employment (CIE) program. With PEP’s guidance, individuals have worked at locations such as the Wells Fargo Center, Rittenhouse Claridge Apartments, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, CareerLink, and other state agency offices and private businesses. PEP’s program helps individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve workplace literacy, find work, and succeed at employment.
After a detailed assessment process, PEP develops employment plans that give individuals a choice of employment and volunteer positions that satisfy their needs, giving them a chance to select areas of the city where they want to work and positions that offer a chance to succeed at the work they choose.
The employment plan guides PEP staff members who then explore various jobs, search the classified ads of newspapers and websites, make contacts in the community, and complete applications for jobs that are identified as potential good fits
An employment specialist coaches individuals in one-to-one session when the individual gets a job. The training ends only after the individual can independently perform all of the required duties on the job.
To help mainstream the individual, the job coach prepares the individual for a time when she will no longer need direct support from the coach. To give the individual moral support and help them fit into the department, the job coach will encourage other employees at the job site to help guide the individual. Because the individual gets a chance to learn how to acclimate to expectations, he or she is more likely to feel like an important, valued part of the team. And he or she is more likely to stay a long time in the job.
Community Integrated Services
441 N. 5th St., Suite 101
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Vocational Habilitation http://www.pathcenter.org/MR/mr_vocrehab.htm
Community Integrated Employment Service http://www.pathcenter.org/MR/mr_comintemp.htm
8220 Castor Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19152
Programs Employing People (PEP)
1200 South Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
2350 West Westmoreland St.
Philadelphia, PA 19140