Last week, three Keshet adults returned to their jobs for the first time since March 2020. This is monumental, epic and a reason to celebrate.
Among all of the challenges of the past 13 months, what’s happened with employment of people with disabilities has been particularly devastating. We’ve seen the realities of this at Keshet. Prior to the pandemic, nearly every adult in Keshet’s programs had a job through competitive employment, supported employment or regular volunteer positions. Today, 94% of Keshet’s adults are unemployed due to being laid off, businesses closing, furloughed or having to leave employment because of health and safety concerns.
Keshet’s adult services is working towards a singular goal: Helping find employment for every interested adult in our programs and, hopefully, others in the community. To achieve this mission, Keshet has the following plan:
1. Offering programs for workforce readiness.
Providing opportunities to maintain vocational and life skills has been a priority of Keshet since it became clear that the pandemic was going to be a long road. We’ve partnered with many local organizations to do volunteer projects that involve many of the same types of tasks that people do at work.
2. Connecting with past employment partners.
Staff are in regular contact with the businesses that employ adults in Keshet’s programs. When these businesses are ready to reopen or welcome back more employees, our job coaches are ready to provide support for the return to work.
3. Conducting individualized assessments and goal setting.
A lot has changed in the past year; our adults have developed new interests and skills. Staff are working one-on-one with adults to help them identify their employment goals and learn what jobs interest them. As more jobs open up, these assessments will be used to match potential employees with employers.
4. Moving employment in-house to Keshet.
Keshet’s “work from home” model provides opportunities for employment with social distancing. We contract with businesses to have adults do group project work at a Keshet location.
5. Identifying new employers.
Staff and families are continually networking to find new employment opportunities. We find that many of our participants excel in jobs that involve active tasks, such as shredding, sorting, stocking shelves, filing, putting things together and customer service. The Keshet team is available to make presentations and answer questions about the benefits of hiring people with intellectual disabilities.
Getting people back to work is Keshet’s commitment and responsibility. The adults in our programs want to be independent, self-sufficient and contribute to the community. Employment opens the door to achieve all of this and more. It’s going to take time, creativity and dedication, but we’re up for the challenge.
If you have questions or leads for possible jobs, please contact Lisa Lew, Director of Adult Services, a firstname.lastname@example.org.