Tina Fascina Director, Colleen Couturier Job Developer, Heather Wellings, Employment Consultant, and Paula Benford, Office Administrator & Job Coach, make up the team at ER Employment Consulting, an inventive and supportive service, nurturing persons with disabilities along a road to meaningful employment.
Heather Wellings, Employment Consultant explained some of the framework for how ER Consulting delivers valuable programmes and supports for persons with disabilities. “We are mandated under the umbrella of the Ontario Ministry of Disabilities Supports Programme (Ministry of Community and Social Services). There are many different service providers in Ontario. We have been the longest running programme locally, open for just over 15 years. The other three programmes running in town (under parallel funding) are The Canadian Hearing Society, The March of Dimes, and Yes You Can Employment Consulting Services. There are pre-requisites for us to be able to help people with disabilities under the ODSP umbrella. The other ways we can help people is, if a person has an I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan through high schools), or a doctor’s note sharing that a person has a barrier or disability.”
Disabilities and barriers to employment “can be anywhere from colour blindness to anxiety.” shared Heather. “My job specifically is to come in and see if a person qualifies for the programme.” Heather can go anywhere the prospective client feels most comfortable, including their home. Through interviews and various assessments, Heather will be able to best determine where ER Employment Consulting can help an individual who qualifies for support through the various programmes, leading to employment. “Getting a person better equipped for employment is the key.” said Heather “We can set up a person up with training opportunities including, W.H.M.I.S., First Aid, C.P.R., Fork-lift operator, and more. We try to aid a person in building up their resume.”
Once the interview and assessment process with Heather is completed, Colleen Couturier, Job Developer, will begin working with an individual to continue moving them along in their journey towards employment. “We will work to find out what an individual’s interests are, and match the person with opportunities, that are hopefully, best suited for them. It might even be their dream job.”
Colleen showed saultonline a handmade card she received from one of her clients, who is finding a lot of success through the support they found at ER Employment Consulting.
“We offer ongoing job coaching for our clients. This keeps the line of communication open between the employee, employers, and the ER Employment programme staff.”
Paula Benford, Office Administrator, also provides support with job coaching, and will meet the person on the first day of their new job. The first day or first shift on any job can be a scary prospect. Paula will stay with a person for a period of time to ensure that they are equipped with all of the pieces that make for a successful outcome. “I make sure they feel comfortable, and that they have a good understanding about the job they are starting.” Ongoing job coaching can happen depending on what an individual might require.
Devices and accommodations for support of a barrier or disability, are included in how ER Employment Consulting can move a person towards a successful employment experience. “There are people who are more visual learners, so we can help them by developing lists or charts (for example) or offer ways to use organizers to better help them.” said Colleen. “Devices such as back braces, knee braces, or laptop apps are also a consideration.”
Tina shared “Over the years, ER has helped a wide range of people. We have continuous overlapping of clients we are helping at any given time, usually numbering around 100. Throughout the year we have people continually signing up for the programme, and we will work with an individual for up to three years.”
“We have many success stories.” said Colleen. “One particular client comes from a remote northern community, and he wasn’t being helped adequately where he was. After a series of traumas, this particular person reached out to us, and is now very successful in his role. He was able to find the support he needed, and continues to have ongoing communication with us at any given time.”
“Everyone has been in a position to wish they could have had support. We all have barriers. What we can offer here are tools to help a person push through those barriers.” said Paula.
“Through a ‘Short-term Training Fund’, ER can help with certifications, and achieve benchmarks” said Tina. “Through this Fund, we can help a person get their food handlers license, drivers license, (for example) or provide for note takers to go into a particular course with a person who has an identified barrier.”
E.R. works within a wide district, encompassing Michipocten to Sudbury, Ontario. “We have many resources that we can reach out to, from community partners to businesses, all in an effort to build in opportunities for our client.” said Tina.
Wage subsidy programmes also help to keep the engine running.
“A lot of people think that disabilities are only physical. There are many disabilities out there, many of them, invisible.” shared Paula.
For individuals who have a difficult time making it to the offices on Andrews Street, E.R. Employment Services has space available for interviews at The Ministry of Community & Social Services offices, or at the Tech School, (old St. Mary’s high school) or, there is always the option to go to a person’s home.
“The Tech School is a new option, involving workshops called ‘Obstacles to Opportunities’, a 2 week programme, involving workshops that we have created through the years.” shared Tina. ‘Obstacles to Opportunities’ starts in February 2016. Call the offices to get registered, and learn more about it.
“This is all about us going the distance to keep a person connected in their community.” said Tina. “We can even help people get started along a pathway towards self-employment.”
For persons with disabilities, wanting to take the first step towards finding that dream job, or exploring potential opportunities, reach out to the team at ER Employment Consulting. Four nicer and more supportive women, you’d be hard pressed to find. A tremendous team where positivity abounds. That’s for sure.
ER Employment is located at 137 Andrew Street (just across from Greenwoods Locksmiths), near the intersection at Albert St. West. Phone (705) 253-8973.
Visit their website at: http://www.erconsulting.ca