Journeying Through Customized Employment: Two Years of PCSEPP

By Sara Porcaro | Jun 28, 2022
PCSEPP, BHDDH, Employment, Opportunity, IDD, Disabilities, Rhode Island, ADA, Empower, Equality
PCSEPP Participants Celebrating Together

Things change in two years. Especially after the last two years.
But thankfully, for the participants in the Person Centered Supported Employment Performance Program, the changes they've seen alongside their community have been positive ones. Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic had everyone sheltering in place in the beginning, by the summer of 2020, individuals were beginning their postponed PCSEPP journey. Now, with the program coming to a close, we're reflecting on the incredible work done by professionals and participants alike!

Taking Steps to Further Customized Employment

"We always wanted to have more opportunities for customized employment, and this was it," says Employment Coordinator Casey Getchell. "Thanks to PCSEPP, and the other pieces of it we worked on with our peers, like the technology aspect, we have the insight to continue it now."
PCSEPP, a program funded by the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH), is one where experts from the east coast to the west came together to create an efficient customized employment system. With Perspectives, AccessPoint RI, and the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center working together with AbleOpportunities, Inc., Skills for Rhode Island's Future, and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMASS Boston, these three agencies had both internal and external support. Now, after two years of this work together, they've made incredible--and permanent--strides; SkillsRI's WorkABILITY program seeks to continue the customized employment focus for applicants with disabilities, and Perspectives' employment professionals are keeping iPads to teach future individuals how to make video resumes and more.
"Thanks to PCSEPP, and the other pieces of it we worked on with our peers, like the technology aspect, we have the insight to continue it now."
"It's great to see more technology in employment services," says Career Developer Brittany Dorrance, "and with new projects and programs in the works after PCSEPP, we're excited to keep this work going, especially with individuals in Transitional School Services (TSS)."

Building a Community's Skills Together

While professionals banded together to learn new technology skills with AO, made new connections with SkillsRI, and got the organizational structure to keep working smoothly with the ICI, they supported each other in growing, learning, and then teaching individuals how to find opportunities for work they love. The beauty of customized employment, too, was that individuals could take the time to discover more about themselves before moving on to finding matching opportunities in the community.
They learned their strengths, their likes and dislikes, and had the chance to tour several businesses to see where they'd make a good fit. Even for individuals who found themselves uninterested in paid employment, the skills they learned--self advocacy videos, video resumes, and the Discovery process to assess and build their talents--left them in a place to make a difference volunteering in their community instead, or simply waiting for the right time to move into the workforce. And better yet, participants not only had the opportunity to gain these new work skills, but to make new friends, too.
"I'm a little sad that it's over," says Bailey, who made several friends after meeting other participants for the first time in iPad class. "I'll miss working with everyone, but I hope to keep in touch with Casey and other friends I made."
With PCSEPP riding the falling wave of the pandemic, the community has once again opened up؅--but for two years, individuals in PCSEPP still made the most of their time, making connections and learning new things everywhere and anywhere they could. From Discovery in local parks to Zoom sessions on technology, they immersed themselves in new skills, met so many new people, and made concrete goals for their future. And while the program may be coming to an end, the work itself continues on, now integrated into the very fabric of organizations like Perspectives and SkillsRI. That's lasting change in the world of Rhode Island's employment services, and that means that not only are we proud of all the work professionals and participants have done, but excited to see where this experience takes our teams in the future!


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