Career Compass

CLEC receives provincial funding, funds evaluation of employment services

 

By Ron Giofu

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) received $27,400 from Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund and used it to evaluate its employment service.

The funding was put towards an independent evaluation by University of Windsor researchers into Career Compass, a CLEC-sponsored employment support service geared towards promoting inclusive hiring and finding employment for those with intellectual disabilities.

The research was performed by Kelly Carr, Laura Chittle, Sean Horton, Patricia Weir and Chad Sutherland from the department of kinesiology. Carr, a PhD candidate, along with CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero and director of supports overseeing Career Compass Rosa Amicarelli presented the results at a media conference April 4.

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) received $27,400 from Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund and used it to evaluate its employment service – Career Compass. From left: University of Windsor PhD candidate and researcher Kelly Carr, CLEC director of supports overseeing Career Compass Rosa Amicarelli, Community Living Essex County executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero, self-advocate Reggie Wilson and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

Carr explained there was a 2004 report that showed that people with disabilities were traditionally paid $8.66 – slightly higher than the minimum wage at the time – and mainly held sales and service industry jobs with no health benefits. The results of the research recommended a “strength-based employment service” which marketed job seekers for their strengths, promoted an untapped talent pool of employees and adopted more of a business-like approach.

Such recommendations would result in increased hourly wages and jobs outside the service sector, further income security by increasing hours of work including at permanent jobs outside the sales and services sector and allow for long-term considerations including medical and health benefits. Carr noted that qualitative and quantitative evaluations of workplace attitudes were taken with a strength-based employment services, as opposed to a social service approach.

Carr added that strength-based employment services resulted in “significantly higher wages” as well as an estimated 55-times greater likelihood of working outside the sales and services sector.

Amicarelli said that the University of Windsor’s results will be shared with the employment team, which consists of herself and four others.

Kelly Carr, a University of Windsor PhD candidate, fields a question during a media conference held at Community Living Essex County’s main office April 4. Carr was one of the researchers that evaluated CLEC’s employment service Career Compass.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was also on hand for an official cheque presentation, and said that upwards of 30 per cent of people in the next decade could be faced with some sort of disability. He said it makes business sense to hire people with intellectual disabilities as it is reflective of what is happening in society.

“We were very fortunate to get this grant,” added Wallace-Gero, adding Community Living Essex County was one of the few agencies in this end of the province to receive such funding.

“We will document proven strategies that move people with disabilities toward meaningful employment within a diverse and inclusive workplace,” she said. “This research will demonstrate the real shift occurring for people with disabilities; that is, a shift away from unemployment, isolation and poverty to a real career, inclusion and income security.”

The study originated in January 2017.

For more information on Career Compass, visit www.clecareercompass.org, call 519-776-6483, “Like” them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clecareercompass or “Follow” them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CLECareerCompas.

Community Living Essex County celebrates employment project

 

By RTT Staff

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) celebrated the end of one employment program but it was a program that launched others within the agency.

For the past two years Community Living Essex County, in partnership with several community partners including the Greater Essex County District School Board, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, Workforce Windsor Essex, Community Living Windsor and others formed the First Choice Employment Committee to promote awareness and employment of people with intellectual disabilities. The success of the project was celebrated last Friday afternoon, but although that project has ended, it has served as a “launching pad” for the highly successful Job Start and Career Compass programs.

Back Row: Lynne Shepley- CLEC-Manager, Chad Sutherland-CLEC Board member, Steve Kwasnycia , Self Advocate,  Cindy Kwasnycia-Self Advocate, Derek Roy-Project Coordinator-CLEC, Rosa Amicarelli- Director-CLEC, Lorne Rocheleau (Special Education Coordinator –WEECDSB), Lisa Vincent-Support Worker, Tammy Westwood-Support Worker, Tony DeSantis- CLEC-Manager Community Relations. Front row: Karen Bolger-CLEC-Director of Community Living Operations, Beth Renaud-Self Advocate, Colette Warnock-Support Worker, Nancy Wallace-Gero-CLEC- Executive Director, Michelle Karr- Manager-Workforce Windsor/Essex.

Back Row: Lynne Shepley- CLEC-Manager, Chad Sutherland-CLEC Board member, Steve Kwasnycia , Self Advocate, Cindy Kwasnycia-Self Advocate, Derek Roy-Project Coordinator-CLEC, Rosa Amicarelli- Director-CLEC, Lorne Rocheleau (Special Education Coordinator –WEECDSB), Lisa Vincent-Support Worker, Tammy Westwood-Support Worker, Tony DeSantis- CLEC-Manager Community Relations. Front row: Karen Bolger-CLEC-Director of Community Living Operations, Beth Renaud-Self Advocate, Colette Warnock-Support Worker, Nancy Wallace-Gero-CLEC- Executive Director, Michelle Karr- Manager-Workforce Windsor/Essex.

Nancy Wallace-Gero, executive director of Community Living Essex County, called it “an important moment in time” as the programs that First Choice Employment has launched have given people CLEC supports a chance to enter the workforce.

“First Choice Employment has resulted in tremendous success for a lot of people,” said Wallace-Gero. “We are extremely proud of the success that has been achieved over the last couple of years.”

Wallace-Gero said they are grateful to the province for “believing in Community Living Essex County” and to all of their partners. She paid tribute to the staff and the employment team as well.

Derek Roy, manager of Community Living supports overseeing Career Compass, said First Choice Employment led to a number of positive outcomes and that without all the players at the table, they wouldn’t have been able to get as far as they have.

“First Choice Employment was a way to guide us,” said Roy. “We found the direction we needed to go.”

CLEC

First Choice Employment had subcommittees that dealt with employers, marketing and organizational aspects with Roy also paying tribute to the employment team that actively works with families and employers.

Other members of the Career Compass team include director of Community Living supports overseeing Career Compass Rosa Amicarelli and employment services workers Michelle Jones-Rousseau, Tammy Westwood and Lisa Vincent.

For more on Career Compass, visit www.communitylivingessex.org, call 519-776-6483 or visit their Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Career Compass aiming to link employers with those with intellectual disabilities

 

By RTT Staff

A regional employment service for those with intellectual disabilities has been officially launched though it has already has some success stories.

Career Compass, a group that operates under the umbrella of Community Living Essex County (CLEC), was launched last Friday afternoon though it has already been won the 2016 Ontario Disability Employment Network’s (ODEN) “Innovator of the Year” award for “promoting innovation in employment services for people who have a disability.”

An official launch was held for Career Compass last Friday afternoon at the office of Community Living Essex County. From left: Ryan Couture of Access Community Gardens, supported employee Steve Kwasnycia, manager of supports overseeing Career Compass Derek Roy and CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero.

An official launch was held for Career Compass last Friday afternoon at the office of Community Living Essex County. From left: Ryan Couture of Access Community Gardens, supported employee Steve Kwasnycia, manager of supports overseeing Career Compass Derek Roy and CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero.

Derek Roy, manager of supports overseeing Career Compass, said the idea came from ODEN with CLEC then re-branding its former “Ready to Work” strategy with a more business-minded initiative. After fielding more than 200 suggestions for a new name, it was decided that “Career Compass” would be the brand they would use going forward. The program was one of 37 recipients of the Employment and Modernization grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The name came from the idea of providing career options to job seekers and their families while guiding “forward-thinking” businesses in their inclusive hiring practices. Roy said Career Compass can give guidance to employers who want to hire someone with a disability and said the notion that the employment has to be full-time is unfounded. Many people would like part-time work to ease them into the workplace.

“Business owners are often under the impression that they must hire full-time,” said Roy, “but this really isn’t the case. We’ve found that starting at fewer hours and evaluating from there is ideal.”

Career Compass is also working on a summer student program with Roy stating the Career Compass team is working with local school boards on the matter.

Roy emphasized that Career Compass is connected with CLEC.

“We are one of the many arms of Community Living Essex County,” said Roy, adding that Career Compass has already exceeded many of its targets in terms of getting people hired.

Nancy Wallace-Gero, CLEC executive director, said the agency is very happy with the growth of Career Compass and called Friday’s event “a big celebration” of the employment services group’s early successes.

“Career Compass is a fabulous example of how organizations can modernize its services and meet the needs of the people,” said Wallace-Gero. “We are very proud at Community Living Essex County of Career Compass.”

Wallace-Gero added that Career Compass is “growing very rapidly” and that “it’s growing quicker than anything we are doing right now in terms of real success.”

Steve Kwasnycia, a supported employee at Access Community Gardens, said his employment is “going good for me” and it allows him to support his loved ones. Ryan Couture, nutrition workshop facilitator, credited the Career Compass initiative for its help in allowing his own business to grow.

“The support you guys ave been giving has been crucial,” said Couture.

Couture said he doesn’t want to lose Kwasnycia, calling him the “best partner I’ve ever worked with.” He urged other employers to give Career Compass a shot and said it is not about the disabilities, but rather the abilities of the workers.

Tony DeSantis, manager of community relations and resource development, shows the award Career Compass recently won.

Tony DeSantis, manager of community relations and resource development, shows the award Career Compass recently won.

Tony DeSantis, CLEC’s manager of community relations and resource development, added there are a lot of success stories like that of Kwasnycia.

“We have a lot of people with direct supports that are looking for work,” said DeSantis.

For more information about Career Compass or for employers looking for someone to hire, call 519-776-6483 with Roy’s extension being 211. People can also stop by CLEC’s main office at 372 Talbot St. North in Essex or e-mail Roy at droy@communitylivingessex.org.