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January/February 2009

  • Ask the Navigator - Is work too stressful for jobseekers with mental illness and/or a history of substance abuse?
  • Stess and Unemployment
  • Resources for Youth
  • Focus on Baltimore City

March/April 2009

  • Ask the Navigator - What are these disability symbols for and where should I do with them?
  • Inclusive Emergency Planning
  • Focus on Frederick County
  • Meeting the Needs of Customers with Mental Health Disabilities

May/June 2009

  • Ask the Navigator - Tips for Jobseekers with Stress
  • Focus on the Lower Shore
  • Business Network Forum Training
  • National Navel Medical Center Training

July/August 2009

  • Ask the Navigator - Jobs for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
  • Focus on Montgomery County
  • The Business Case for Hiring Individuals with Disabilities
  • Publications of Interest
  • 2009 NDEAM Theme Announced

September/October 2009

  • Join Us at Raising the Bar
  • Ask the Navigator - National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Youth Employment on the Shore
  • Southern Maryland Workforce Services: Collaborative Team Meeting
  • More No Spare Marylander Workshops in 2009

November/December 2009

  • Ask the Navigator - Universal Design
  • Walgreen's Distribution Center
  • Focus on Mid-Maryland
  • Dr. Cuomo's Corner
  • Harford County No Spare Marylander

January/February 2009 Issue

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q: Is work too stressful for jobseekers with mental illness and/or a history of substance abuse? Will it cause a relapse?

A: Work is actually beneficial for people who fall into these categories; it aids in the recovery process. Just like for everyone else, work helps to improve our self-esteem, provides life satisfaction, and offers a sense of purpose and direction. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "consumers who are employed for a meaningful length of time demonstrate significant improvements in self-esteem and symptom management compared with clients who do not work." (1) The Johnson & Johnson - Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program is nationally recognized for its work in this area and offers the following:

  • The best predictors of work success for persons with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse are 1) a client's expressed interest in working and 2) previous employment history. Substance abuse is not a consistent predictor of work success or failure.
  • Many clients with substance abuse are interested in working and find work to be a good reason to cut back or stop their substance abuse.
  • Many clients with substance abuse have a variety of interests, employment histories and job skills that are valuable on the job.
  • Relapse of a substance use disorder is always a possibility, but employment may protect clients from relapse. Employment is associated with continued recovery; relapse is associated with unemployment, housing instability, and loss of social supports. (2)

If you find yourself working with a customer who needs those additional supports to avoid relapse and to improve his or her life situation, check out the followings sites:

"The only way you get well is by working. That's the only way.
My job helps." (3)

(1) NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Supported Employment
(2)
Dartmouth Evidence-Based Practices Center - Information Sheet Employment Supports for Clients with Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
(3) Dartmouth Supported Employment Center

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Stress and Unemployment

Being unemployed is a very stressful time for customers, the following are resources that provide tips on how to manage the stress of being unemployed.  

Coping with the Stress of Layoff and Unemployment - this article discusses the grieiving process and ways to manage the stress of a job loss.

Managing Unemployment Stress - this article provides tips to assist job seekers manage unemployment stress and "take control" with a proactive strategy for this time of transition.

Tips for Surviving a Layoff: Managing the Emotional Roller Coaster - this article can be found on a website called The Layoff Survival Guide. It provides steps a person can take to better manage his/her reaction to the peaks and valleys he/she will inevitably experience on this emotional roller coaster.

Unemployment and Job Loss Support - this article provides tips for perserving self-esteem and self-respect during unemployment.

Resources for Youth

School To Work Fact Sheet (pdf or text)
This fact sheet explains the various programs and opportunities that are available as youth make the transition from school to work. 

The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth (NCLD/Y)
NCLD/Y serves as a national youth-led information, training, and resource center. NCLD/Y focuses primarily on issues of youth development and leadership for youth with disabilities. For more information, visit NCLD/Y's website.

Youth @ Work: Real World, Real Rights
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) designed this site to teach youth about some of their rights and responsibilities as an employee. Some of the resources available are:

  • Youth@Work fact sheet - this fact sheet explains a young worker's employment rights and responsibilities under the laws enforced by EEOC.

  • Youth@Work brochure - The brochure contains information about the mission of the EEOC, the types of employment discrimination prohibited by federal law, the rights and responsibilities of young workers, and the process for filing a complaint of discrimination.

  • Youth@Work bookmark - The bookmark explains the mission of the EEOC and how to file a complaint of discrimination.
    For more information, visit the Youth @ Work website.

Youth with Disabilities
Developed by the D.B.T.A.C.: Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, this site provides resources for youth with disabilities in the following areas: Advocacy/Leadership Development, Disability History, Arts, Education/Transition, Bullying, Employment, Health/Recreation, Specific Disabilities, and Technology. Visit the Youth with Disabilities website

Focus on Baltimore City

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

In order to highlight best practices occurring in One-Stop Career Centers around the State of Maryland, we have a feature called Focus On. In this newsletter, we are focusing on Baltimore City. 

Baltimore City Career Development Facilitator: A Success Story
Earl Cooper, a Career Development Facilitator for the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, acquired a disability in July of 1993 due to a work related injury.  After several years of requiring medical attention to include multiple surgeries, years of physical therapy and many years of using a wheelchair, he had plenty of time and support to explore his options in becoming self sufficient and reenter the workforce.  Despite the limitations he was forced to embrace, he was determined to carve out an enjoyable and rewarding career. 

Earl decided to seek a career in the human services profession. However, he discovered that he lacked the necessary educational qualifications. Therefore, he embarked on pursuing his education and attended Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) in the summer of 2000. While studying at BCCC, he was forced to take medical leave for a couple of semesters. Despite these medical setbacks, he maintained his focus and determination to continue his education. In 2004, he received two Associate’s Degrees- one as a Human Services Assistant and in Mental Health Technology.
In the fall of 2005, Earl furthered his education at the University of Baltimore (UB) and earned his B.A. in Human Services Administration in May of 2007. While a student at UB, he became an active member of the Disability Club (UB ABLE) and served as President for several semesters.

Towards the end of September 2007, he began his employment quest and submitted a number of applications and resumes to government agencies and private businesses. During his job search, he decided to write Mayor Sheila Dixon expressing his desire to reenter the workforce and requested her assistance.
Upon review of Earl’s letter and resume, Mayor Dixon forwarded his information to various city government department heads and was quickly contacted by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development/One-Stop Career Center.  Earl received an orientation to One-Stop Career Center services and registered himself in the Maryland Workforce Exchange to continue his job search. In addition, he met with a Business Service Representative (BSR) for individualized job search assistance. During a meeting, the BSR encouraged Earl to apply for an open Career Development Facilitator position at the One-Stop Career Center. 

In November of 2007, Earl accepted a temporary, full-time position as a Career Development Facilitator at the Northwest One-Stop Career Center. He quickly learned how to provide case management services to job seekers including career assessments, testing, job readiness and career counseling, and data entry. In February of 2008, Earl’s employment status changed from temporary to permanent.

In June 2008, Earl was given the opportunity to accept a position as the Career Development Facilitator for a new program called Your CHOICE (a Food Stamp Employment and Training program) housed in the Eastside One-Stop Career Center.  This new position allows Earl to use his creativity and continually enhance his skills as a Career Development Facilitator. 

Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities Career Fair
On November 19, 2008, the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities sponsored a Career Fair focused on connecting job seekers with disabilities to employment opportunities in the Baltimore City region.  The Commission, in partnership the Maryland State Department of Education-Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and local community service providers, held the Career Fair at the C.C. Jackson Recreation Center located in the Park Heights community of Baltimore City.

Prior to the Career Fair, local community service providers offered workshops, activities, and coaching to provide job seekers with job readiness and Career Fair assistance. 

The Career Fair was well attended by 155 job seekers who had access to 25 employers with various employment opportunities.  Employers ranged from the Social Security Administration to Port Discovery to Goodwill Industries.  In addition to gaining direct access to employers, computers were available for job seekers to complete job applications online. 

Career Fair was funded through Medicaid Infrastructure Grant funding from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare CFDA 93.768 and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“No Spare Marylander”: Statewide Series of Workshops for
Job Seekers with Disabilities

The Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD), with assistance from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, is hosting a series of no-cost, one day intensive workshops for job seekers with disabilities around the State.  Workshops will cover a wide variety of topics including an informational session about employment and disability, State and local employment resources and services, and job-seeking sessions about cover letters, resumes, job applications, interviewing and benefits counseling.

The first workshop was held on October 20, 2008 at the Washington County One-Stop Job Center in Hagerstown, MD.  This workshop was attended by fifteen participants and to date, one individual has received employment as a result of the workshop.  Participants overwhelmingly responded that this intensive employment workshop provided them with new information about programs available to them as well as helping them be better prepared for their job searches.  Highlights of this workshop included an interactive activity about our country’s disability and employment timeline. Participants toured the Washington County One-Stop Job Center and attended small break-out sessions focused on one-on-one resume critique, job interviewing techniques, job application and cover letter assistance and SSI/SSDI guidance.  One participant commented that the workshop assisted with “gaining the confidence to return to the workforce and not lose my benefits.”

The second workshop was held on December 10, 2008 at the Eastside Career Center in Baltimore, MD.  Seventeen people attended this workshop and like the Hagerstown attendees, participants felt, they had obtained a variety of helpful information about services for job seekers with disabilities during the workshop and as a result, they also felt better prepared for their job searches.  Workshop highlights included listening to three successfully employed individuals with disabilities share their personal journeys; touring the Eastside Career Center; participating in four small job readiness breakout sessions; and receiving a personalized flashdrive with job search materials, resources and an updated resume.  After the workshop, a participant shared that “the workshop was a blessing because I learned so much and it fueled my motivation again to look for a position as well as boosted my self-esteem because I've been looking for so long…I now know that I'm not the only person with a disability that is having a tough time landing a position.” 

The last two workshops will be held in Salisbury at the Lower Shore One-Stop Job Market on Friday, March 27, 2009 and in Prince George’s County on May 15, 2009.

The Maryland Disability Program Navigators would like to thank all of the staff and partners who participated in the activities prior to and the day of the workshops, we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you.

Workshops are funded through Medicaid Infrastructure Grant funding from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare CFDA 93.768 and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

March/April 2009

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  I am spring-cleaning my work area and found some disability symbols I printed out a while ago.  One is a wheel chair, another has two hands on it, and the last one looks like a phone.  I think I got the idea from one of your previous newsletters, but I don’t recall what I am supposed to do with them! 

A:  You are probably referring to the accessibility symbols I mentioned in the November / December issue.  You should use them to promote the accessibility of your One-Stop’s physical location, programs and services.  Place the signs next to the relevant equipment, location, or resources. For example, the wheelchair symbol (the universal symbol for accessibility) can be posted at the accessible entrance, bathroom, or to note a phone that is lowered to wheelchair height.  This symbol indicates access for individuals with limited mobility, not only for those who use wheelchairs.  For doors, hang the sign 60” from the floor to the center point of the sign, on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door.  The symbol with two hands indicates that sign language interpretation is available for the event you are advertising.  The third one you mentioned is either for a Volume Control Telephone, or for a TTY.  If it has a picture of a handset with sound waves, then it is for the volume control phone.  The TTY sign looks like a handset above a keyboard.  You probably have one or both of these in your resource room for your customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Best to post those signs where your customers can clearly see them from a distance – on the wall, above the equipment is a good location. 

Other symbols include:

  • A person using a cane: indicates physical access for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
  • The letters AD with sound waves: indicates audio description for persons who are blind or have low vision.  Used for television, video, film, performing arts, etc.
  • An ear with dots going in and sound waves coming out: indicates assisted listening system available.  Infrared, loop, or fm systems transmit amplified sounds.
  • The words Large Print: indicates materials available in large print.  This is a minimum of 18 point font, sans serif, left aligned, at least 1.25 spacing.  
  • The letters CC or OC: indicates closed caption and open caption, respectively; used in video, movies, television.
  • Two columns / three rows of dots: indicates printed material is available in Braille. 

So, go take a tour of your One-Stop!  Where do your signs need to be posted?  Make sure your customers with disabilities know that you have services, equipment, and resources available for them!  Proper signage throughout your center allows your customers to help themselves.

You can print the accessibility symbols in-house, or purchase them in plastic or metal.  Search “accessibility symbol signage” on the web, or ask at your local trophy and engraving store.  Download twelve accessibility symbols at no charge from the Graphic Artists Guild website.   

For rules and regs on posting accessibility signage, visit the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) website.  Scroll down to Section 4.3 Signage. 

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Inclusive Emergency Planning

Submitted by Jackie Gast

All businesses have emergency plans for their employees. All businesses practice fire or disaster drills with their employees regularly. Sure. Of course many businesses do have plans but too many do not. Or perhaps their plans are incomplete. Having a plan, and practicing it, is essential to employee safety. 
 
According to the 2007 Disability Status Report for the United States, Cornell University, for Maryland, 25.9% of the workforce working full-time/full-year has one or more disability. Nationally, 1 in 3 people ages 65 to 74 have a disability. For those over 75, the number is 1 in 2 people. Based on this information it is important to have emergency plans that are inclusive of all people in the workplace, including people with disabilities and older workers.

I recently spoke with an employer who has an individual with a physical disability who is unable to walk at a quick pace.  He is mobile and does not use a wheelchair.  However, when practicing their evacuation drill, this employee was unable to evacuate within the required time.  A fellow employee volunteered to bring in a wheelchair from her home to be placed near the employee’s workstation.  In addition, since the employee is not used to a wheelchair, fellow employees made a plan as to who would help guide him if the need arose.  That plan was given to and accepted by management. The accommodation to ensure this employee's safety cost the employer $0.  Also, consider the positive corporate culture in this company as these plans were employee driven.

The above noted employee is not elderly, however, many elderly may not move as quickly as they used to.  Also think about employees who have temporary disabilities such as a broken leg, recent ankle surgery, etc.  While your company may not employ anyone currently with a disability, it could happen in the future, it could be you, and you need to be ready.

According to the Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness, your emergency plan should include

  • establishing two evacuation routes as one may be blocked,
  • determining “safe areas” in case of a tornado or air raid.  Include the fire marshal in designating those areas and ask if they have a register for people with disabilities at the station,
  • determine relevant needs for all employees including those with disabilities,
  • emphasize to the employees that they need to be as self-reliant as possible and to assume responsibility for their own safety. One never knows what events can transpire in the event of a real emergency,
  • make sure all employees are familiar with the company’s emergency warning system.  Be sure it is both visual and audio; most cell phones have GPS.  In case of a building collapse, this could be critical in finding an employee’s location,
  • employees may want to consider keeping a kit of necessary supplies like insulin or other medications and
  • consider language barriers including for deaf and hard of hearing.

Schedule the time this month to (re)develop a plan.  It is well worth it. Visit the Maryland Department of Disabilities website for more information on the emergency preparedness initiative in Maryland and for resources. Additional State and National resources can be found on the emergency preparedness section of this site as well.

Focus on Frederick County

In order to highlight best practices occurring in One-Stop Career Centers around the State of Maryland, we have a feature called Focus On. In this newsletter, we are focusing on Frederick County Workforce Services.

Essential Disclosure Sheet in Orientation Materials
At Frederick County Workforce Services, it is mandatory for all job seekers to attend an orientation session. Orientations are held two times a week, for two hours per orientation session. These sessions provide job seekers with a comprehensive overview of the services offered at Frederick County Workforce Services, a tour of the Center including the accessible work stations, and an orientation packet full of helpful resources, information and job-seeking tools. At the end of orientation, job seekers are offered the opportunity to schedule a one-on-one appointment with a Frederick County Workforce Services Counselor.
 
Recently, the Frederick County Disability Program Navigators recommended the inclusion of an essential information sheet about disclosure of disability.  Patterned after an information sheet that Sacramento Works (California) produced, this sheet communicates a crucial message: Whether or not to disclose you are a person with a disability is your personal choice! Furthermore, this sheet states:

  • Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), One-Stop Career Centers may ask if you have a disability to determine if you are eligible for additional supports and services.
  • Your answer will help us to help you.
  • Visit our Services for Persons with Disabilities webpage at www.frederickworks.com/disabilities.html.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to disclosing your disability.  Ask the staff person at the resource desk for the Work Matters fact sheet entitled “Disclosure”.  You can also access this and other fact sheets online at www.mdworkforcepromise.org/iwd.html.

By including this information sheet about disclosure, individuals with disabilities can make more informed choices about whether disclosing disability is the right decision for them!  For more information about this sheet, contact Margaret Mulligan (301-662-0099, x1294- mmulligan@waystationinc.org) or Leigh Jones (301-662-0099, x1292- ljones@waystationinc.org). 

A Great Way to Discover New Career Possibilities! 
April 27, 2009 through May 1, 2009, Frederick County Workforce Services will offer a new workshop series for job seekers interested in discovering their strengths and finding how these strengths can translate into better career matches.   This workshop series uses the Dependable Strengths Articulation Process©; a process that helps participants shift their thinking- to find out what they did right so they can be sure to do it again - by using evidence from their own lives.  Thus begins the process of uncovering their personal dependable strengths. 

The Dependable Strengths workshop is an intensive, non-traditional job search seminar that helps participants identify their core talents, skills, and abilities (pattern of dependable strengths).  Participants will learn how to talk about these strengths, develop techniques that will get them noticed and referred, to become a job magnet by making contacts, and to articulate how their strengths play an important role in the business for which they are interviewing. 

Ultimately, this workshop shows participants how to get in touch with their best selves and thereby unlock their hidden potential. This potential can be identified and brought to awareness, enabling people to do their best work and experience their greatest satisfaction and effectiveness in life.  Participants can discover career possibilities they may not have previously considered for themselves.

For more information, visit the Frederick County Workforce Services' website. The workshop flyer is posted In the Spotlight section of the website, at the link for “A great way to discover new career possibilities!”      

Resources for Troubled Times: A Panel Presentation for Frederick County Job Seekers
The staff at Frederick County Workforce Services took note of the overwhelmed expressions on their customers’ faces. At their February staff meeting, discussion centered on what more staff could do to help their customers through these difficult economic times. Janet Flanagan proposed inviting community partners in for a panel discussion on the services they could provide to FCWS customers. Janet took the ball and ran with it. By Monday, March 23, 2009, she had arranged for a special two-hour event to occur at the One-Stop Career Center for job seekers. The event, entitled “Resources for Troubled Times,” included representatives from Frederick County Department of Social Services, Frederick County Health Department, The Mental Health Association of Frederick County, and Community Action Agency Accredited Housing Counselors. Each representative gave a brief presentation about agency supportive services available to community members during times of unemployment.  In addition, attendees were able to participate in a dedicated Question & Answer session where attendees inquired about assistance with everything from medical bills to foreclosure avoidance to mental health counseling.The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, e.g. “I’m so glad I came!” The presenters even remarked that they learned something new, and some were able to follow up on individual customers’ concerns that very day.

This panel presentation will be offered again from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm on April 24, 2009 at the Frederick County Workforce Services One-Stop Career Center; interested persons may register by calling 301-600-2255 (voice), 301-600-1862 (TTY), or visit their website.

Veteran Success Story

Mario Quilici, Frederick County Workforce Services (FCWS) Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER), shared a success story about a male in his late 30’s, a veteran with a disability, medically discharged from the Marine Corps in 1990.  Since 1990, he worked in a variety of jobs, including an IT Technician and customer service representative. However, he was in search of a meaningful career, one that will utilize his transferable skills and abilities as well as his interests. 

In 2007, he began receiving vocational rehabilitation services, to include vocational and personal counseling, education and training, financial aid, and job assistance, through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Simultaneously, in order to access as many resources as possible, he participated in the Veterans Employment Services available through FCWS.   As he continued to move through the vocational rehabilitation process, he needed a work study site.  Because of his connectivity and familiarity with the FCWS and his growing interest in assisting disabled veterans with employment and training, he chose the FCWS as his work study site.  For the past 18 months, he works under the guidance of the Mr. Quilici to provide other disabled veterans with employment services 25 hours a week.  Because of his involvement with the VA, he is able to earn a monthly stipend.   In addition, he is working towards earning an AA Degree in Business Administration at Frederick Community College where he currently holds a 3.3 GPA.  His monthly stipend also includes money for tuition, books and other fee assistance.

In 6 months time, he will successfully earn his AA Degree.  He would like to continue his education and eventually, earn a Bachelor’s Degree in one or more of these areas of interest: Business, Veterans Employment Services and Counseling. 

Meeting the Needs of Customers with Mental Health Disabilities

Submitted by Dr. Sheila Cuomo

Customers who access the One-Stop Career Centers as their primary employment resource often have barriers related to stress and diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health problems.  This has been a challenge that is all too common among One-Stop Career Centers across the country. In an effort to enhance the level of accessibility to all individuals with mental health and psychiatric disabilities, MontgomeryWorks has sought to address this issue in a unique but effective way.  In the fall of 2008, an internship program was established, in collaboration with the University of Maryland, to focus on the mental health needs of customers by offering counseling services. These services are provided by graduate level students.

Three graduate level students have been assigned to the Intensive Services Unit (ISU) of MontgomeryWorks to provide rehabilitation counseling to customers. To fulfill a training requirement for their graduate program, students are required to complete a 100-hour practicum at a qualified training site and provide direct services to clients.  MontgomeryWorks become an eligible intern site for these students and has licensed clinical professional counselor on site who is providing the required supervision of the students.  The supervisor is available to offer students advice and expertise on addressing the needs of customers.  The students help to augment the current vocational services that are provided by ISU which in turn provides a more holistic level of service to customers with mental health problems that have been a pediment to vocational success in the past.

For more information on this program, contact Dr. Sheila Cuomo at scuomo@montgomeryworks.com.

May/June 2009 Issue

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  I’ve noticed that people around me (jobseekers and co-workers) seem more stressed out these days.  Me, too, actually!   What can I do to help myself and others get through these tough times?

A:  Your question is so relevant to the times, and I am sure you are not the only one noticing the increased stress level at our One-Stops.  The American Psychiatric Association manages a website called “Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives.” The following material is taken directly from this site. 

Keeping your mental health in balance during times of increased stress – such as the current economic crisis – is an important part of your overall health and well-being. The challenge is to find effective ways to cope with this stress.  The American Psychiatric Association offers the following tips:

Balance Your Needs:  Mental health is essential to overall health. Recognize that stress affects your entire body. Physical activity, diet, sleep and stress management all play a part in having a healthy mind and a healthy life. Taking care of your own needs will help you remain healthy and able to respond to the needs of your family.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People: Look to family and friends for support when facing an emotionally stressful situation. Surround yourself with people you trust and who have your best interests in mind. Their encouragement and feedback will help you think positively.

Focus on the Positive: Avoid activities that cause you to dwell on why you’re stressed. Amid the steady drumbeat of negative economic news, limit your news consumption and make time for other activities, such as listening to music or reading a book. Make sure conversations with friends, family or co-workers do not dwell too long on stressful or negative topics.

Socialize and Have Fun: Invite friends and family for low cost and fun activities – watch a movie or play a game at home, take a hike or a walk, and/or arrange a neighborhood cookout. Inexpensive social activities can help keep you and your family healthy and focused on the positive.

Know When to Get Additional Support: Stay in tune with how you are feeling. Even when you are taking positive steps to manage stress, you can get to a point where you need additional help. If you notice that stress is interfering with your daily life, there are many places you can turn to for support – including your family doctor, religious or spiritual advisor, or a mental health professional.

Need help in locating mental health providers and resources for your local area?  Try the Mental Health Services Locator to find a mental health services directory, suicide prevention programs, youth violence prevention services, substance abuse treatment facilities, etc. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has its own facility locator for information about local VA Medical Centers, community out-patient clinics, Vet Centers, and Veterans Benefits Administration.

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Focus on the Lower Shore

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

In order to highlight best practices occurring in One-Stop Career Centers around the State of Maryland, we have a feature called Focus On. In this newsletter, we are focusing on the Lower Shore.

Summer Teacher Institute for Transition Planning
Wicomico County Public Schools Transitioning Youth Coordinator, Barbara Bell along with Special Education teachers, Steve Bullock and Jeremy Wolfe are offering the Summer Teacher Institute for Transition Planning on June 12 and June 15, 2009.  The Institute will focus on providing up to 35 teachers with information, resources and tools to assist with transitioning students from high school to the world of higher education, training and work. 

Teachers will begin Day 1 by riding the local public transit system, Shore Transit.  After experiencing the challenges of the much needed public transit system, the teachers will meet at the One-Stop Job Market in Salisbury, MD to hear presentations by Jackie Gast, Director of the Eastern Shore Business Leadership Network and Disability Program Navigator followed by a panel discussion of local employers.  Day 1 will end with a tour of the One-Stop Job Market and the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance’s Mobile Unit One-Stop.  Day 2 will include a visit to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Wor-Wic Community College, several community service providers including Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, Lower Shore Enterprises, Dove Pointe and others.  Finally, teachers will end Day 2 learning about Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), work incentives, benefits counseling and other resources available to students.

Making the Connection Between Business and Job Seekers with Disabilities
Over the years, everyone has heard about the many barriers to employment for people with disabilities from both job candidates and employers.  This past year, two events were held, one for human resource managers and one for job candidates with disabilities.  Comparing the answers from groups’ evaluation results, very interesting challenges and questions are raised. 

In April of 2009 at the ESBLN Business to Business Employer Summit, Diversity at Work, in Ocean City Maryland, participants filled out evaluations asking what they perceived to be the most prevalent barrier to employment for people with disabilities.  The top three answers given in order of frequency were lack of management support or education; lack of knowledge about the Americans with Disabilities Act; and lack of knowledge about how to provide an accommodation.

In April 2009, a No Spare Marylander Workshop for job seekers with disabilities was held at the One-Stop Job Market in Salisbury, MD.  The participants were also asked about what they perceived to be the greatest barrier to employment.  Their answers were lack of self-confidence or fear of rejection; the appearance of the disability; and inadequate communication and awareness. 

Now put these two groups together and what do you get?   People without confidence trying to sell their skills and strengths to a non-accepting, unsure, wary management.  Pretty tough scenario. 

So what do we do about it?   Educate, educate, educate.  If the person can’t do the job, don’t hire them.  If they can do the job with a REASONABLE accommodation, HIRE them.  If you go the extra mile to accommodate, your new or retained employee will be likely to go the extra mile for you.

Good news.  At the time of the summit, only 36% of managers actively included people with disabilities into their recruitment strategies.  At the conclusion of the ESBLN Employer Summit, 93% of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to include people with disabilities into their recruitment strategies.  As a result of the No Spare Marylander Workshop for job candidates, 100% of the participants who responded to the evaluations said that they felt better prepared for their job search.  Even better news, a participant in the No Spare Marylander workshop, has found part-time employment though the ESBLN/Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce/One-Stop Job-Market network.

The ESBLN is a resource for the nine eastern shore counties of Maryland and Virginia and Delaware.  There is no charge, only a wealth of information and support for business- visit ESBLN's website for more information. .

Disclaimer, these results are from a small sampling.

No Spare Marylander: Salisbury, MD
On March 27, 2009, the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) held the next “No Spare Marylander” Workshop at the One-Stop Job Market in Salisbury, MD.   

This full day Workshop was a collaborative effort between the staff of the One-Stop Job Market, the Eastern Shore Business Leadership Network, Maryland’s Disability Program Navigators, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance, Telamon, and other agencies within the One-Stop.  In addition, several business professionals from K & L Microwave, PRMC, TTY Mobility Products, Mimir Marketing and Quality Staffing Services participated during the afternoon break-out sessions.

MDOD Secretary Catherine Raggio presented during the morning session, including personal discussions with each of the Workshop participants.  Jade Gingerich, Director of Employment Policy for MDOD, led an interactive discussion about the history of disability law.  A panel consisting of local agency leaders talked about services for people with disabilities within their agencies as well as a local and regional economic employment outlook.  Following the panel, three employed individuals with disabilities shared their personal success stories (see the Success Story highlighted below).

The afternoon activities consisted of break-out sessions to include a “ready-to-go” resume, job application education and tips, mock interviews and benefits counseling for job seekers wanting to work while maintaining health benefits.

To date, as a result of the NSM Workshop and networking with the ESBLN/DPN and Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the attendees obtained a part-time job with Nick, Inc., a transcription and document scanning company in Salisbury. 

Success Story
A little over a year ago, Jackie Gast, Director of the Eastern Shore Business Leadership Network (ESBLN), received a call from Renee Stephens, Eastern Shore Regional Manager for the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, referring NSite’s President Tom Cropper who was in need of recruitment assistance.  NSite, a software development company, was in search of a customer service tech support person and a programmer.  As a result of these business relationships and a variety of community resources, Dave Roberts gained employment with NSite as a customer service tech support representative.  Jackie Gast also works as the Disability Program Navigator (DPN) for the upper and lower eastern shore, coordinating the lower shore No Spare Marylander (NSM) Workshop in March.  Ms. Gast asked Mr. Roberts if he would to talk to workshop participants about how he overcame adversity leading to his employment success to which he gladly agreed.  After his presentation, he shared these comments with Ms. Gast:

…The ESBLN and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) have made such a huge difference in my quality of life that I would like to avail myself to your workshops in the future should you need someone to share a positive experience. Please call upon me at anytime!" 

I personally enjoyed learning more about the history of all the effort and legalities it has taken over the past 40 years or so for me to even be part of such a workshop. I cannot say enough about Bob Fairbank (DORS Counselor), he truly is a gem - he helped me start thinking positively about my own future instead of wallowing in self-pity…My father used to teach me "Son you gotta want it" ....I remember those words when I was changing my first tire and he knew I could break those lug nuts loose if I really went after it with 110% effort, and he was right - that is one aspect I hope the attendees got from me. 

Those of us coming through your wonderful system need to put forth at LEAST as much effort as those who have had the vision to create the ESBLN, DORS, Lower Shore Enterprises (et.al.) and those who currently make "The Network"  the outstanding success that it is today.  You all make people's lives better - there's no greater good in this world!”

Attendees of the NSM Workshop enjoyed hearing about Dave’s success and all of the incredible resources he used in order to achieve his success.  Thanks Dave for your participation!

Business Network Forum Training

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

The Business Network Forum: “Bottom Line Solutions for Hiring Workers with Disabilities” was an excellent opportunity for businesses in the Baltimore region to learn about the benefits associated with hiring persons with a disability.  The Business Network Forum took place on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 from 8:30 AM – 12:00 Noon at the Workforce & Technology Center (WTC) in Baltimore, MD. 

Businesses heard information about:

  • Employment Resources for Businesses that Hire People with Disabilities (One Stop Career Center and Division of Rehabilitation Business/Employment Services)
  • Rite Aid Best Practice: “Why We Make It Our Business to Hire People with Disabilities”
  • ADA Employment Laws, ADA Amendments Act, Business Concerns about Health Insurance and Worker’s Compensation, and Tax Credits/Incentives
  • Assistive Technology Demonstrations
  • Disability Etiquette in the Workplace

In addition to the sessions, there was an opportunity for forum participants to tour the Workforce & Technology Center.  The Workforce & Technology Center is Maryland’s workforce development center for people with disabilities.  The forum was sponsored in partnership with the Baltimore County Office of Workforce Development, Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center, Division of Rehabilitation Services; and Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. 

National Naval Medical Center Training

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

As part of the Veteran Speakers Network and the Disabled American Veteran Roundtable group, a training to educate employers entitled, “Ready, Willing and Able: Hiring and Accommodating Veterans” was held at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD on May 7th, 2009 from 8:00 am - 12:00 noon.  The training included speakers talking about the neuropsychological impact of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress on veterans returning to work (Dr. Maria Mouratidis, Neuropsychologist), how to recruit and hire veterans (Maggie Leedy, Maryland Lead Disability Program Navigator and Sara Muempfer, Disability Program Navigator), and accommodations for veterans returning to work (Leonard McPherson, Assistive Technology Consultant).  The training concluded with a panel of veterans and employers who shared their personal experiences with returning to work.  To read more about this training, visit the National Naval Medical Center website. To view the training, visit the US Navy - US Marine Corps VideoTeletraining Streaming Site and select “View Archived Class.”

July/August 2009

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  What’s the best type of job for someone with a developmental disability?

A:How about a professional puppeteer?  Or, a hotel maintenance man?  Or, working in a day care center, or with the elderly population, or at a local rec center or YMCA?  Probably not the answers you were expecting…  But, really, every person is different, and each brings his or her own unique skill set and lifetime experiences.  The best type of job?  I say it would be whatever best matches the individual’s interests and strengths.  Really, it’s what we all want, isn’t it?  Our dream job.  A job we love because we love what we do.  People with developmental disabilities are no different.  They have dreams and aspirations.  They have talents and skills and favorite things to do.  They have goals like working, getting married, or living independently.  There are things that bring out the best in them and things that bring out the worst.  Just like you and me.  A difference could be that some might need help with identifying and achieving their goals.  Person-centered planning, interagency collaboration, job coaching, job negotiation and job creation are all best practices that ensure these individuals find employment that matches who they are at their very best.  Read about these best practices and the people they have helped at Real People, Real Jobs.  You’ll be surprised, inspired, and ready to learn more about what you can do to help other jobseekers just like them! 

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Focus on Montgomery County

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

In order to highlight best practices occurring in One-Stop Career Centers around the State of Maryland, we have a feature called Focus On. In this newsletter, we are focusing on MontgomeryWorks.

Corporate Immersion Event: Career Fair and Training Event for Veterans with Disabilities
On Friday, July 17, 2009, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, the 3rd Corporate Immersion event took place at the MontgomeryWorks Sales and Service Learning Center in Wheaton, MD.  Corporate Immersion, a collaborative effort of several national and statewide veteran-service and disability-oriented organizations , as well as private, non-profit, federal, state and local employers and education institutions, is a Career and Training event targeted to assisting wounded warriors and veterans with disabilities.  The event serves two customers: veterans transitioning back into the workforce and employers interested in providing veterans with employment opportunities.

For veterans, this event provided a “safe” environment to learn about transitioning into civilian life.  In a Career Fair setup, 25 veterans had the opportunity to connect with them, learn about job opportunities and receive feedback about their resumes, presentation and interview skills.  Additionally, several of the veterans participated in one on one resume assistance and mock interviews with employers.  Overall, the event provided transitioning veterans with disabilities valuable information about how to achieve their transition goals.

On the other hand, for employers, this event provided them with the opportunity to connect with skilled veteran job candidates as well as to better understand the process veterans undergo when transitioning into civilian employment.  Over 10 employers participated in the Career Fair portion of the event and several of the attending employers volunteered their time to provide resume critique as well as participate in mock interviews.  Employers were able to give the veteran attendees precious feedback and advice about how to truly showcase their innumerable skills and abilities. 
This dedicated group of veteran and disability-related professionals continue to improve and plan future Corporate Immersion events; always with the common mission of connecting veterans with disabilities to employment.  If you are interested in learning more, contact Billy Wright at 703-448-6155, x244 or bwright@cessi.net.

MontgomeryWorks Internship Program
In October 2008, through an agreement between the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work and MontgomeryWorks (MW), an internship program was developed in order to serve the needs of customers experiencing significant barriers to employment as a result of mental health issues and the stress of unemployment.  Social Work graduate students were given the opportunity to participate in this unique internship program in order to complete their 100 hour practicum. 

Last fall, this program began with one intern who provided counseling services to Intensive Services job seekers at the MW One-Stop Career Center in Wheaton, MD.  Job seekers were selected based on their need for more intensive and additional counseling services.  The intern worked with these job seekers to prepare them for job readiness, make referrals to outside mental health agencies, offer resources to augment counseling services onsite and assist them with managing their stress of unemployment.

This student intern was supervised by the Montgomery County Disability Program Navigator, Dr. Sheila Cuomo, ED.d, a Maryland licensed mental health therapist qualified to supervise students.  Having a counseling intern onsite, at the One-Stop Career Center, proved to be very beneficial for the Center as well as the job seekers because it provided more individualized services and assistance with mental health issues, vocational counseling and case management services.

As a result of this successful, pilot internship program, MW welcomed 2 more interns in January 2009 from the same University of Maryland School of Social Work program.  These interns also successfully completed their 100-hour practicum at MW and as a result of their valuable experience of working with a diverse group of job seekers at MW; both interns requested the opportunity to complete their 600-hour practicum at MW.  The request was granted and both students will begin their internship in the fall of 2009.  Both student interns will carry a caseload of job seekers and provide individual counseling to these job seekers in the area of mental health counseling, vocational counseling and case management services.  In addition, these interns will work in conjunction with workforce development specialists to develop employment goal plans for job seekers and continue to receive weekly supervision by the licensed DPN onsite.

WISE Event at MontgomeryWorks
On July 17, 2009, MontgomeryWorks sponsored and facilitated a Workforce Incentive Seminar Event (WISE), a free community event sponsored by the Social Security Administration.  This event was held at the Wheaton, MD One-Stop Career Center and training was provided by a Community Workforce Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) from Independence Now, Inc., a Center for Independent Living.  CWIC’s provide assistance and training to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries about going back to work and accessing work incentives to do so.

As a result of the WISE, 13 beneficiaries attended and received detailed information about the benefits of returning to work.  Detailed questions and concerns were addressed in this venue to specific beneficiaries who were initially reluctant to return to work for fear of losing their benefits.  In addition, beneficiaries heard about employment services, resources and local training opportunities offered by the MontgomeryWorks One-Stop Career Center.

Business Case for Hiring Individuals with Disabilities

Submitted by Jackie Gast

Did you know that many of today's hottest technologies were first developed for people with disabilities? Take text messaging. Long used by the deaf community, it’s an increasingly popular communication tool for everyone. Similarly, the technology used to improve wheelchairs now powers people on Segways® up and down city streets.

What powered these ideas was innovative thinking—the same kind of thinking that drives business success. To effectively compete, businesses of all sizes need employees who can think outside of the proverbial box, especially in today's difficult economic environment. And more and more employers are discovering a ready source for such talent—people with disabilities. On a daily basis, people with disabilities must think divergently about how to tackle challenges and get things done. At work, this translates into innovation.

For this reason, innovation is one of the key themes highlighted in the Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities, an online, multi-media resource that illustrates how people with disabilities add value to America's businesses across six key concerns common to all employers, regardless of size or industry. In addition to innovation, the Business Case addresses return on investment, human capital, marketing, diversity and social responsibility.

A few years ago, when Walgreens Co. adjusted the technology used in one of its distribution centers to make it easier to use for employees with disabilities, it quickly found that the change actually made everyone more productive. "We got rid of the keyboards. Replaced those with touch screens," a company representative said. "And guess what we discovered? This makes it better for everyone."

Of course, innovation isn’t always about technology. When Michigan-based A & F Wood Products, Inc. worked with an employee with a visual impairment to reorganize a workstation for optimal productivity, the company found that the new layout made more sense for all employees. Sometimes the most innovative ideas are the simplest—all that’s needed is a fresh perspective.

The Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities, which includes Frequently Asked Questions on disability employment, is one of many resources available from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to help America's businesses implement policies and programs that foster more inclusive workplaces. View the Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities.

Publications of Interest

Access for All Customers: Universal Strategies for One-Stop Career Centers
By:David Hoff, Elena Varney, Lara Enein-Donovan, Cindy Thomas & Sheila Lynch Fesko 

One-Stop Career Centers serve a diverse range of customers. These include individuals with a variety of educational and work backgrounds, people from diverse racial, linguistic and ethnic cultures, as well as individuals with a wide range of disabilities and support needs. One way of addressing the needs of this diverse customer base is to develop services and systems that respond to the needs of each of these groups. However, this can be expensive and labor-intensive. A more effective way to serve this broad customer pool is to provide One-Stop services according to the principles of what is known as "universal design," using common strategies that benefit many groups and that reinforce the concept of an inclusive setting that welcomes and celebrates diversity. For more information on Universal Design, visit the Institute for Community Inclusion's website.

Accessible Information Exchange: Meeting on a Level Playing Field
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently published new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance on conducting accessible and inclusive meetings. This guide covers access to meeting sites as well as presentations, printed materials and other forms of communication. Information is provided on how to evaluate the accessibility of meeting rooms, parking, routes and entrances and restrooms. This guidance covers the layout of meeting spaces, accessible circulation and seating, provision of printed materials in accessible formats and making audible communication accessible through assistive listening systems, real-time captioning and sign language intepretation. To access this guide, visit DOJ's website.

2009 NDEAM Theme Announced

The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has announced "Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation" as the official them for October 2009's National Disability employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It is intended to urge employers, as they seek to fill positions, to embrace the richness of America's diversity by considering the talents of all workers, including workers with disabilities. For more information, visit ODEP's website.

September/October 2009 Issue

Join Us At Raising the Bar

Submitted by Leigh Jones

On November 5 – 6, 2009, the Raising the Bar conference is being held at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City, MD. Come join Dr. Sheila Cuomo and I at our Stress, Yours, Mine and Theirs workshop. One of the most common comments we are hearing from One-Stop Career Center Staff has been that they are seeing many more customers experiencing stress during these tough economic times. Our workshop will provide attendees with practical tips and tools for sharing and working with jobseekers who are experiencing increased levels of stress due to unemployment. This workshop touches on how to identify when jobseekers might be experiencing something more than stress (i.e. mental health issues) and what do to in this situation. Furthermore, this workshop equips attendees with tools, resources and practical ways to better manage and cope with their own stress due to the increase of jobseekers needing services as well as jobseekers. We hope to see you at our workshop!

Raising the Bar provides workforce development professionals from numerous fields with the opportunity to enrich their knowledge and skills, and network with others in the workforce. Topics that will be addressed at this year’s conference include, but are not limited to, the economy....Assisting job seekers....Removing barriers....
Innovative programs....Green jobs.... Technology....American Recovery and Reinvestment Act... Serving Businesses....
Leadership....Networking... Rediscovering the passion for work.
If any of these topics strike a chord, you need to be at Raising the Bar 2009. For more information and/or to register for Raising the Bar, visit the conference website.

See you in November!

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  I heard something about disability month and am interested in learning more.  What’s the scoop?  (btw, I love this newsletter – it always has such interesting articles!) 

A: Great question and perfect timing!  Every October, we recognize the contributions and skills of employees with disabilities as the U.S. celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).  According to U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), NDEAM began in 1945 as an “effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment…”  (There have been many changes and improvements over the years.  I’ve posted a little history at the end of this article.)  This year’s theme is ‘Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation’.  Do you want to celebrate NDEAM at your One Stop?  You can start off by visiting the ODEP website learn more and to order free posters.  Then, pick a day or a week, or whatever works best for your One-Stop and plan a disability awareness event.  Possibilities include bringing in guest speakers for your customers or for your October staff meeting (or, both!).  Another possibility is to hold an open house for community service providers in your area.  You can also order free publications to distribute to your business customers.  Find free pubs at the Maryland Department of Disabilities and ODEP websites.  Both sites offer brochures and fact sheets on a variety of topics including reasonable accommodations, business tax incentives and credits, disability and workplace culture, emergency preparedness, employment laws, and recruitment and retention.  These are just a few ideas for NDEAM events. I’m sure you will think of the perfect event for your One-Stop.  Get creative and have fun with it!  Oh, and thanks for the compliment!  We work hard on this newsletter to make sure we provide you with relevant and interesting information. 

NDEAM history:  In 1945, Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October of each year National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word ‘physically’ was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Youth Employment on the Shore

Submitted by Jackie Gast

Most students have been back to school for a month or more, but for many students on the Shore, school never really ended.  There were hundreds of students in the tri-county area involved in summer employment that also included an academic piece.  

Over the past twelve months, fourteen students successfully finished a program designed to prepare them for the workforce.  These high school students from throughout Wicomico County were recruited from Career and Technology Education located at Parkside High School.  The students accepted into the program participated in workforce training beginning in September of 2008.  Each month they met for two hours learning about customer service, ethics in the workplace, expectations of employers, expectation of employees, and other work related subjects.  By the end of the school year, the students and instructors had developed a student handbook designed to help them to be successful employees.  As you guessed it, the next step was to gain summer employment. 

Partnering with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, all fourteen students found employment with twelve different employers in industries such as construction, landscaping, office work, custodial, horticulture, and hospitality.  The term of employment was for six weeks and wages were paid by a grant from the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance - a nice benefit to employers particularly in this economy.  It is important to note that none of the students replaced displaced workers.   A handbook was also developed for participating employers to ensure that the student was getting a good job experience and to be clear about expectations. 

One of the male students in the program was very quiet, did not care much for classroom learning and had long hair that was a little concerning to the instructor when it came to interviewing time.   The day before this student was to interview for a construction job, he showed up with his hair neatly cut.  When the surprised instructor asked why, he said he wanted to look good to his employer.  After starting his job, the employer commented that the student has a wonderful personality, is a hands-on learner, appreciates everything anyone does for him and is a hard worker.

This Wicomico County program concentrates only on students with disabilities.  Even with students with a variety of disabilities no accommodations were necessary on the job. Accommodations were necessary for the training prior to being placed on the job and a Deaf student was placed in a workplace that had employees who knew how to sign, but that was all that was necessary.  Every student successfully completed this program and work experience.  Several employers asked to have the six week term extended and some are hoping to hire on a permanent basis. 

Fortunately, this program will begin again this year.  If you have any questions regarding this program or know of a company that would like to participate next summer, contact the Chamber at (410) 749-0144.

Southern Maryland Workforce Services: Collaborative Team Meeting

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

On September 17, 2009, at the Prince Frederick campus of the College of Southern Maryland, Southern Maryland Workforce Services (comprised of both Wagner Peyser and WIA staff) had a collaborative meeting with Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) staff to facilitate communication and a stronger working relationship between all involved agencies. 

The meeting began with an interactive game that looked at the myths and facts about each agency’s services.  Staff learned a great deal about what each agency can and cannot do but even more so, spurred discussion, ideas and thoughts about how to collaborate for the best job seeker outcomes.

The next portion of the meeting was a short learning session about disability awareness and etiquette.  Meeting attendees took a short quiz about using people-first language, communicating with individuals in the most effective matter, and busting common myths about individuals with disabilities.

Ellen Flowers-Fields, the Director of Economic Development for the Southern Maryland Tri-County Council, ended the day with a summary of the pre-meeting survey responses that cross-agency staff completed and shared her hope that what attendees learned clarified correct and perhaps, incorrect perceptions.  Finally, she asked meeting attendees to write on display paper the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats they feel Southern Maryland faces as a collaborative delivery system.  Ellen made a few immediate suggestions for collaboration after looking at the activity results.  Furthermore, she stated that this analysis will be used by the collaborative leadership to develop action plans around addressing the challenges, maximizing the opportunities and minimizing the threats. 

Staff left the meeting, commenting that they learned new information, met new staff in other agencies, and hope to collaborate on a couple of immediate job seeker cases.

More No Spare Marylander Workshops in 2009!

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

During the Fall and Winter of 2009, the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) will continue their ongoing partnership by hosting two “No Spare Marylander” workshops in the Harford and Anne Arundel County regions for job seekers with disabilities.  These regions will be targeted due to the expected influx of employment opportunities due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). 

This full day workshop will remain a collaborative effort between the combined expertise of the One-Stop Career Center and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) staff, Maryland’s Disability Program Navigators, other community agency staff, and the local/regional business communities. 

These intensive job seeking workshops will provide a variety of employment resources, services and tools to assist job seekers with disabilities during their employment search.  Workshop sessions will include an interactive discussion about how recent disability employment legislation impacts individual employment situations, a panel of local agency leaders sharing information about employment services for people with disabilities, and personal success stories from three employed individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, job seekers will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of businesses about the qualities of a great employee as well as expectations within the workplace.  To complete the workshop, job seekers will rotate between four break-out sessions: writing a “winning” resume, participating in mock interviews, learning how to apply for federal jobs and receiving benefits counseling for job seekers wanting to work while maintaining health benefits.

For more information regarding these upcoming “No Spare Marylander” workshops, contact Sara Muempfer at smuempfer@dllr.state.md.us.  

November/December 2009 Issue

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  A peek out my window the other day made me stop and think.  I watched the delivery guy load up a handtruck, wheel it across the parking lot up to the side walk, then push a button to open the doors.  I think our lives have all been made easier because of inventions like these -- curb cuts, automatic door openers, captioned television, even texting.  All of these were initially intended to help people with disabilities, right?

A:Well, yes, that is right.  What started off as designs to help individuals with disabilities, have now become our norm, benefiting the general public.  This is called “universal design”.  North Carolina State University’s Center for Universal Design developed “Principles and Guidelines for Universal Design”.  The Institute for Community Inclusion has come up with examples of how One-Stop Career Centers can apply these principles and guidelines

  1. Equitable Use. This design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.  Example: ask all customers if they need assistance completing forms; avoid assuming that certain customer groups may or may not be interested in certain services.
  2. Flexibility in Use.  This design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.  Example: provide options for career interest inventories that can be completed on-line, on paper, or through answering questions through an interview. 
  3. Simple and Intuitive.  This design means easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.  Eliminate unnecessary complexity.  Example: in interviewing workshops, talk about potential interview questions, role play answers, and then give suggestions for improvement.
  4. Perceptible Information.  This design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.  Example: present information verbally, in writing, and with graphics to illustrate the information.  Individuals receive information in the manner that best suits them.
  5. Tolerance for Error.  This design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.  Example: configure most computers so customers cannot inadvertently change settings, but leave some with more flexible configuration so users can access the built-in accommodation features as needed.
  6. Low Physical Effort.  This design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.  Example: provide adjustable chairs, desks, and tables for workstations and classrooms.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use.  This design provides appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.  Example: have resource materials available in places and at heights that are highly accessible. 

The content for this issue was borrowed from “Access for All Customers: Universal Strategies for One-Stop Career Centers.”  This publication is available for download from the Institute for Community Inclusion and includes a handy checklist for evaluating your One-Stop’s services. Check it out! 

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

Walgreens Distribution Center

Submitted by Jackie Gast

Have you heard about the employment successes at the Walgreens distribution center in South Carolina?  I was fortunate enough to get to listen to keynote speaker Randy Lewis, Senior Vice-President of Distribution & Logistics for Walgreens Company at the USBLN National Conference in Washington D.C. in September.  Their center in Anderson, South Carolina, has the highest quality of output, the lowest turnover and lowest workplace accidents of all their distribution centers in the U.S. and 30% of their workforce has a disability.  Randy Lewis made a commitment to hire individuals with disabilities because he felt it could work.  It did work, and some positive surprises came along with it.

One quote Randy used that I have repeated several times since is, “If you’ve seen one person with a disability, you’ve seen one person with a disability. “  Everyone is different.  Some accommodations had to be made but one of the surprises was that some accommodations benefited everyone. For example, one of their logistics processes included referring to a computer screen with a lot of small type in a spreadsheet format.  IT simplified the screen using icons instead.  The job process became more consistent, was easier to learn and was less ambiguous.  Time to accomplish that job and training time to learn how to read the screen for new hires, disability or not, was dramatically reduced. 

Other accommodations were that training sometimes had to be done differently or may have taken a little longer than usual.  Most accommodations cost less than $25 but usually cost $3 or less.  One employee worked a station loading the conveyor belt.  He was uncomfortable if anyone encroached on his personal space or was in his personal bubble.  The accommodation was to put yellow duct tape on the floor designating his space and training employees to respect his work area.  The area was about 5’ X 5’ or so.  Another employee with a developmental disability was a good worker but tended to stay out on break too long.  He was obsessed with Barack Obama so they put up a picture of Obama in his workspace with a conversation bubble saying, “Don’t be late getting back to your station!”  It worked!  Another employee with obsessive compulsion disorder was in the box trimming area and her time was not up to standard because she focused on how accurately she cut the boxes.  Human resources developed a pictorial checklist showing the number of boxes she needed to cut in the necessary time frame.  The focus shifted from how she cut the boxes to making sure all the boxes on the checklist were checked off and her speed improved to the level required.

The center’s atmosphere or culture changed as well.  There became an improved sense of purpose, being and teamwork.  In this economy, costs needed to be reduced at all the centers.  In other centers, people worried about themselves but in the Anderson center, employees asked what they could do to help.  Listen to Randy Lewis’s full presentation.

Focus on Mid-Maryland Workforce Investment Area

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

In order to highlight best practices occurring in One-Stop Career Centers around the State of Maryland, we have a feature called Focus On. In this newsletter, we are focusing on Mid-Maryland Workforce Investment Area.

Carroll County Summer Youth Employment Program for
Students with Disabilities

Carroll County’s Business & Employment Resource Center (BERC), in Mid-Maryland’s Workforce Investment Area, administers a program for the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) that employs Carroll County students with disabilities.  The DORS Summer Youth Employment Program has been assisting students with disabilities attain summer jobs for five years.

This year, the Program has expanded to include a grant program called the Maryland Seamless Transition Collaborative (MSTC), a year-round program that assists students with disabilities transition from school to the workforce or postsecondary education or training.  Ten students have been given jobs through the MSTC program and an additional 15 students are participating in BERC’s traditional summer youth employment program.  All 25 students are being paid $7.25 an hour and the money is being paid by DORS.  The hope is that these summer jobs will result in longer employment by some of the businesses. 

This program is truly a community effort between local and State agencies as well as the business community.  Research has shown that students with disabilities are more likely to get work after leaving school if they have had jobs and work experiences during their educational career. 

Dr. Cuomo's Corner

Submitted by Dr. Sheila Cuomo

We are starting a new bi-monthly feature called Dr. Cuomo's Corner. This feature will focus on mental health issues that One-Stop staff may be experiencing themselves or with their customers. This month's article will focus on Compassion Fatigue Disorder or Secondary Traumatic Disorder.

More and more researchers and scientists have confirmed that stress has serious negative effects on the physical body, mind and mental well-being of people especially if it is of a persistent kind.  In some instances it can be fatal or cause serious health problems. We are now starting to recognize the existence of a sort of secondary form of stress with people who are in the helping fields and provide services to people in need such as health care workers, police, teachers, vocational counselors and social workers.  These individuals often experience what is now known as “Compassion Fatigue Disorder (CFD) or Secondary Traumatic Disorder (STD)”.  The term was first coined in 1995 as such and is defined as a decrease in compassion of helpers who work directly with victims of trauma. Professionals can experience hopelessness, a decrease in pleasure, life satisfaction, constant stress and anxiety. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self doubt (Wikepedia, 2009).  However, it is possible to recover from this disorder if individuals follow some simple rules.

  1. Recognize that you may have CFD and voice it to your supervisors or superiors so that you can receive support to address the problem immediately.
  2. Begin self-care immediately.  This can be any form of relaxation, exercise, eating healthy and taking mental breaks or vacation days to regroup.
  3. Learn to say no, a word some of us have forgotten to say these days. 
  4. Seek support from family, friends and loved ones who will encourage you to take self-care and who often express their appreciation of you that will remind you of your self-worth.

To learn more about CFD, visit the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project website. To learn more about stress in general, visit the Mental Health America's Live Your Life Well website.

Harford County's No Spare Marylander

Submitted by Sara Muempfer

On November 20, 2009, the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) held the latest “No Spare Marylander” Workshop for job seekers with disabilities at the Harford Community College campus in Bel Air, MD.   

This full day Workshop was a collaborative effort between the staff of the Susquehanna Workforce Network (SWN), DLLR, MDOD, Maryland’s Disability Program Navigators, and the Division of Rehabilitation Services.  In addition, Harford County community members and a recruiting professional from the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) participated in Workshop panel presentations and break-out sessions. 

Executive Director of the SWN, Bruce England, welcomed Workshop participants and provided the group with a brief economic overview of the Susquehanna region; to include the many, diverse job opportunities due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).  Next, MDOD Secretary Catherine Raggio led personal discussions with each of the Workshop participants about their perceptions, goals and ideas about employment.  George Failla, Deputy Secretary Director of MDOD, led an interactive discussion about the history and timeline of disability laws and their important impact upon employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Following this discussion, three employed individuals with disabilities shared their personal success stories.  One of these success stories included a recruiting professional from APG who provided a snapshot of his personal history with learning disabilities and how he used resources, tools and plain old perseverance to achieve as a successful professional.

During lunch, a panel consisting of local agency leaders talked about Workforce Center, DORS and Benefits Counseling services for people with disabilities within their respective agencies.    In addition, participants were informed about the Schedule A hiring authority that assists job seekers with disabilities potentially get into federal employment noncompetitively. 

The afternoon activities consisted of break-out sessions to include a “ready-to-go” resume, federal job application and employment education and tips, mock interviews and benefits counseling for job seekers wanting to work while maintaining health benefits.

Participants left the Workshop with smiles, commenting that “…this Workshop was great!  I learned so much and feel motivated again!”  Additionally, participants walked away from the Workshop with a flash drive to include their updated resume and several other job readiness resources and a professional portfolio to keep track of their job search documents. 

January/February 2010 Issue

Ask the Navigator

Submitted by Margaret Mulligan

Q:  I’m looking for training about employment and people with disabilities.  Money and time are tight.  Any suggestions? 

A:  Yes!  JAN, the Job Accommodation Network, has recently posted its 2010 schedule.  No need to leave your office or open a checkbook!  These 1-hour webinars are offered at no cost, and JAN webinar registration is quick and easy!  I recommend you sign up early, as there are a limited number of spaces and they usually go quickly.  Sign up for one or for all!

January 12, 2010 - Accommodation Ideas for Employees with HIV/AIDS

February 9, 2010 - Current Events in Accommodations

March 9, 2010 - Accommodation Ideas for Employees with Traumatic Brain Injuries

April 13, 2010 - Employer Best Practices

May 11, 2010 - Accommodations for Individuals with Mental Health Impairments

June 8, 2010 - Assistive Technology Update

July 13, 2010 - ADA Update

August 10, 2010 - Employer Best Practices

Don’t forget that your Navigator is still around and available to provide training and technical assistance! Also, check our Calendar of Events for additional training opportunities. 

Have a question for the Navigator?  Submit it to navigator@mdworkforcepromise.org.
Please reference “Ask the Navigator” in the subject line.

New Resources for Businesses

Submitted by Leigh Jones

Accommodating Employees in STEM Fields
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has prepared a publication as a way to share accommodation situations and solutions for STEM related jobs. To view this publication, visit JAN's website.

Poster Series
The Campain for Disability Employment has started a "What Can You Do?" Poster Series.This series of seven posters display positive messages about disability and employment. The posters speak to different auidences including businesses, employees, youth people with disabilities and the general public. Use these posters to help spread the word that at work, it's what people can do that matters. To view or download these posters, visit the What Can You Do website.

Tax Incentives
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has put together general guidance about tax incentives related to accessibility and employment of individuals with disabilities. It includes information on the disabled access credit, Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal Dedcution, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program. To view this general guidance, visit JAN's website.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit Website
The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has updated its Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) website to include a new brochure and updated forms. The WOTC is a Federal tax credit incentive that Congress provides to private-sector businesses for hiring individuals from twelve target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. The main objective of this program is to enable the targeted employees to gradually move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency as they earn a steady income and become contributing taxpayers, while the participating employers are compensated by being able to reduce their federal income tax liability. Visit the updated WOTC website.

 

 
 

 
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