By Steve Suroviec, President and CEO
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Achieva is known to many as a “go-to” organization when it comes to disability employment. If you’re a person with a disability, you can get assistance by either contacting Achieva directly or working with someone from one of several employment programs funded by the government. For example, the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation will assist any person with a physical or mental impairment that presents a significant barrier to getting and keeping a job. Another program is Community HealthChoices. If you’re a person with a physical disability who is enrolled in one of the three CHC managed care organizations (UPMC, PA Health and Wellness, or AmeriHealth Caritas), you can talk to your Service Coordinator and tell them you want to get a job. The CHC program covers the cost of employment services, whether it’s starting at the beginning to figure what you’d like to do, understanding to what extent earning a paycheck could impact other governmental services (like health care or home and community-based services), finding job openings or working with a business to develop a job customized for your skills and abilities, or simply helping you with job coaching while performing the job. People with intellectual disabilities or autism also have these services available to them through the county-based system funded by the PA Office of Developmental Programs. Achieva is well known to all of these publicly funded programs, and we are often the first non-profit they think of when deciding where to refer a person with a disability who wants “a real job at real wages.”
Achieva is also the go-to organization when it comes to private-sector businesses who need high-quality talent and want to hire people with disabilities to meet their workforce needs. Let’s face it, the labor market continues to be tight. Achieva’s Business Services unit can help companies meet their staffing needs with high-quality, qualified talent with disabilities. And if your business is emphasizing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”, then hiring more people with disabilities can be a way to demonstrate your DEI bona fides.
Speaking of disability employment, I’ve had the privilege of chairing the Pennsylvania Employment First Oversight Commission (EFOC) for the past year. On September 22nd, the EFOC approved its third annual report, which contains policy recommendations for Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to improve competitive-integrated employment (CIE) outcomes for people with disabilities. If interested, you can read the report here. Pursuant to Act 36 of 2018, “Employment First” is the established policy of state government, and it simply means that CIE will be the first consideration and preferred outcome of all publicly funded programs that serve people with disabilities (including public education!).
So, if you are a person with a disability who wants to work, a business who needs workers, or a public school that wants to help its graduating students with disabilities land a job before they leave high school, then please consider contacting Achieva so we can help.
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