Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, or Summit DD, has partnered with the Summit County Department of Job and Family Services to bring summer youth employment to residents of Summit County with developmental disabilities and other special needs.
Summit DD received $344,000 from Summit County Department of Job and Family Services to expand its Summer Youth Employment Program to youth who have special needs. Participants are age 16 through 20 and have a household income at the poverty level. Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds the program.
“This partnership is the first of its kind in Summit County and is a step forward for youth with developmental disabilities,” stated John Trunk, Summit DD Superintendent.
“This investment will lead to greater opportunities for youth with disabilities who are graduating from high school to become employed in community jobs, if that is their desire, making our communities and workplaces inclusive for people of all abilities,” Trunk added.
Summit DD is working with several different employers across Summit County to employ 35 students with special needs during this 10-week work program, running through August.
Employers include City of Akron, City of Stow, Marcs, Circle K, Keep Akron Beautiful, Summit County Fairgrounds, Walgreens, Summa Health System, Kmart, and National Church Residence.
On-site job coaches and transportation to and from their job will be provided by several partner providers in Summit County.
Partner providers such as Ardmore, Bridges Rehabilitation Services, Community Connections of North East Ohio, Hattie Larlham, Help Foundation, REM-Ohio and Koinonia will provide job coaching and transportation services. Summit DD administers and provides oversight of the program.
“More employers are realizing the advantage of employing individuals with developmental disabilities to build a stable, reliable, diverse workforce,” stated Drew Williams, Summit DD Director of Community Supports and Services. “If an employer hires an individual from the Summer Youth Employment Program, federal funds will pay half of the employee’s wages for the first year; that is certainly an incentive to hire a qualified employee.”
Youth participating in the program will be stocking store shelves, preparing food, beatifying our cities and parks, and performing janitorial tasks.
Because of Summit DD’s access to specialized staff, youth who are not eligible for Summit DD services with specialized needs are also able to access the Summer Youth Employment Program for the first time.
“We believe that everyone who wants to work should have the right to work, whether they have a disability or not,” stated Trunk. “This collaboration is one of many aimed at supporting kids through their transition to adult life and to make our communities inclusive for all.”
“Our communities are better when they include everyone, from day cares and schools to workplaces and neighborhoods,” Trunk added.