This initiative will see the establishment of an employment program that will provide job search, training, job placement and ongoing support to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. Individuals with developmental disabilities and other challenges (dual diagnosis) have had a difficult time accessing competitive employment. Our community has a need for people to work at entry level jobs who are loyal and invested in their work with excellent attendance records. We need the expertise of SixPoints JVPF members, their entrepreneurship, skills in strategic planning, marketing and public relations as well as their contacts to open doors to businesses in the community. The funding will assist with marketing and outreach, the development and distribution of the model as well as staff to do job analysis and placement. We will work closely with and learn from SixPoints JVPF members how to recruit businesses to this endeavour. The social climate for employing people with disabilities has never been as open as it is today. Let’s take advantage of the momentum of the Ontario government's AODA marketing to reach out to the community in a concerted way and launch this initiative.
Employment is a Jewish community need. Reena has been approached by employers looking to engage people with disabilities in their businesses but they require the support to do so. Many people with developmental disabilities currently participate in volunteer, pre-employment and day programs without access to the support required to move into competitive employment. These individuals, and their families, have expressed their desire to work in real jobs.
Research has shown that people with developmental disabilities benefit their workplace and industry in general, that a disability-inclusive culture provides results for overall employee satisfaction and productivity and creates better employers. People want to work with or spend their money in businesses that include employees with disabilities. In a U.S. study 92% of consumers surveyed felt more favourable toward companies that hire individuals with disabilities; 87% would prefer to buy from such companies.
This is the only program in the Toronto Jewish community that focuses solely on the most marginalized individuals - people with developmental disabilities and other presenting challenges such as mental health issues (dual diagnosis) and those with profound disabilities. We are in preliminary discussions with Zareinu Educational Centre of Metropolitan Toronto (which provides individualized therapies and treatments in an educational setting) to assist in helping their students find employment.
Through this initiative we will also be creating jobs as job shadows for young people looking for meaningful careers, adding to their to their skill sets and marketability.
Provincial government legislation will shortly make inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace mandatory. Economic realities and public perceptions as well as family expectations are driving this change to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.
This initiative has the potential to have an enormous impact on our community. Great strides have occurred in making synagogues and community centres more accessible and inclusive; the next step is the workforce. The Jewish community is leading the way.
This initiative lends itself to producing quantifiable outcomes and very clear indicators of success – the number of businesses engaged, the number of individuals placed in competitive employment, the length of job retention and more. The benefits to the individual and their family are many and varied, while the benefits to the business community can be measured in both qualitative (morale, community perception) and quantitative (value for the salary spent, reduced recruitment/turnover costs) terms.
Activities will include outreach to the business community through one-on-one contacts and by presentations to groups and associations. Individual job placements will be negotiated with each employer. The jobs will be analyzed for matching with potential employees. Individuals will be assessed as to their suitability for each position and matches made. A job coach will assist the individual to integrate into the work place, learn the necessary skills and deal with any potential issues. In time, the job coach will transfer this support function to the employer as appropriate.
A cultural shift will be created in how society responds to people with developmental disabilities and their opportunities for real employment.
• Businesses in the community will be reaching out to hire individuals with a dual diagnosis.
• Generic placement agencies will become involved in placing people with developmental disabilities.
• Articles and stories about the initiative will be published in the community.
• Willingness of potential employers to partner with Reena on this initiative.
• Number of jobs created and filled by people with developmental disabilities and other challenges.
• Reduction in the number of people receiving government disability.
• Reduction in the number of individuals in government funded, segregated day programs.
• Degree to which we move from seeking job placements to being approached by businesses.
• Qualitative responses from businesses and families.
• Number of generic placement agencies involved.
People with developmental disabilities will be treated with equity in the workplace.
• Increase the number of people with disabilities in the workplace.
• People with developmental disabilities will be engaged in the same way other employees are in terms of decision making, etc.
• Feedback from individuals and their families.
• Comments from employers about customer feedback.
• Feedback from employers as to the overall company morale.
The business community will be fully engaged and benefit from this project.
• Businesses will be approached by the program to recruit employees.
• Businesses will be willing to pay a fee for the service of placement and support.
• Businesses will take on the support of individuals.
• Number of businesses that reach out to the program.
• Number of businesses that pay a fee for this service.
• Number of businesses that report increased satisfaction from both customers and employees.
Young graduates will find employment opportunities in this field.
• George Brown College and other university and college programs will be engaged to recruit job coaches.
• Number of new jobs created for job coaches and shadows.
• Number who go on to further education and employment in this field.
The skills that can be brought to bear by SixPoints JVPF members will ensure the success of this undertaking. We need their expertise in marketing and public relations; both for this program and for how employers can advertise their openness to inclusive hiring. We need their business savvy and entrepreneurship and skills in business development. The project also needs their help to open doors, make the introductions and sell the program to the business community.
A Reena Board Advisory Committee will oversee this initiative and it is hoped that a representative from SixPoints JVPF will participate at this level providing guidance, share their professional expertise and assist with strategic planning for this initiative.
The funding will be utilized to get this off the ground in a comprehensive, focused way; to create the momentum to lead to greater success. The expertise, contacts and funding together will ensure the success of this venture.
We are looking at February 2012 for the start-up. We will phase in the number of clients over a two year period. As the program begins to demonstrate successful placements and long term job retention, we will be able to attract new investors and charge fees for service thereby eliminating the need for SixPoints’ funding.
Reena is the sponsoring organization. Due to the high profile of this initiative the President and CEO will be involved in overseeing the activities.
The Resource Manager of Day, Outreach, Respite and Residential Programs will supervise and administer this program.
A Committee of the Reena Board of Directors will be established to guide and monitor its progress.
Reena has been serving the Jewish community, and others, for almost 40 years. The organization has grown tremendously currently providing direct service to 400 individuals and their families as well as providing support to the many on our waiting lists. Staff retention at Reena is unusually high with many staff staying with the agency for years. Reena, through its President and CEO, has also had much experience in mentoring, supporting and launching new organizations. We have financial and administrative and the infrastructure in place to support this new venture. The Resource Manager has 20 years of experience in the development, implementation and supervision of creative day programs.
Reena is governed by a voluntary board representative of the community. Expertise on our Board of Directors includes individuals with management, business, entrepreneurship and leadership skills as well as training and development experience. The Past Chair of the Board is the President and CEO of a placement and recruitment firm and brings this expertise to this project.
Under the leadership and supervision of the Resource Manager Reena has placed 16 individuals in businesses that serve large Jewish neighbourhoods (such as Longo’s, the Vaughan Liberal, Winners and Toronto Kosher) and has been recently approached by other businesses including a kosher restaurant. However, these are ad hoc as opportunities present themselves. We want to approach this initiative within a business model, not only as a community model, with the business assistance SixPoints JVPF members can provide.
This initiative is highly sustainable in the long term. Demonstrated success will enable us to charge employers for this service as they recognize that this is good business – positive marketing creates revenue; they will gain through advertising. This initiative also provides options for individuals to engage in self-employment in the service industry. Families have already indicated their willingness to pay a fee for placement services (Reena is already charging a fee for some services so this is not a new concept). Profits will be reinvested in this endeavour. Reena has the infrastructure in place to support this initiative in the long term.
The initial success of this initiative will attract other investors and corporations and even government to get involved. Partnerships with other organizations such as JVS, Rotary @ Work and Common Grounds will be established. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) will make employment of people with disabilities mandatory. This initiative will enable the community to meet not only its legislated obligations, but also its moral responsibilities.
By changing community attitudes and demonstrating the benefits of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities and dual diagnosis, we will be able to work with generic Placement Firms to engage this population. Once the doors are open and the momentum begins this program will have an enormous impact on the community.
Demonstrated success will create a momentum to grow this initiative. Reena has demonstrated its ability to launch innovative programs and take them to the next level. Over almost 40 years Reena has grown to be one of the largest and most respected service providers to this population in the Province. We also have the experience and success stories in training and placing individuals, on a one-off basis in jobs. We want to capitalize on this expertise by formalizing and operationalizing a much larger program to serve many more individuals.
Demonstrated success will enable us to attract other investors, and government funding for this initiative. It will also bring families forward who are willing to pay a fee for this service. As the new legislation is rolled out and businesses witness the success of this initiative, potential employers will increasingly be willing to pay a fee for the service.
This model is replicable in any other community and would be made available to Jewish communities and others. Reena will develop a guide for this program and make it available on-line. It is our belief that this program should be integrated into every Jewish organization providing services to this population.
While there are some community programs in the Jewish community that train and place individuals with developmental disabilities, this will be a unique initiative that focuses solely on this most challenging group of people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues.