Service providers and community partners can help you find qualified candidates and provide guidance on how to effectively integrate people with disabilities into your workforce. Knowing how to find these partners is an important step. After that, developing and maintaining effective relationships to ensure they meet business objectives is critical.
“The key to success in workforce disability inclusion is the integrity of the program, especially as it relates to performance. It isn’t about hiring any person with a disability; it is about hiring people with disabilities who can do the job well. Finding candidates can be challenging, but one of the approaches is to develop a partnership with agencies or groups who specialize in providing services to people with disabilities. Creating a mutual understanding of the goals of both the agency and the business helps to ensure a pipeline of candidates who are qualified for the jobs.”Deb Russell
President, Deb Russell Inc.
A simple internet search with your state name and vocational rehabilitation (VR) offices will generate a complete list of locations within each state. The website that lists contacts for VR agencies in all states is www.rehabnetwork.org.
Choosing the Right Partners
The needs of your business are the most critical consideration in choosing any agency. With a list of your local agencies in hand, you can begin to determine which services they offer that will best help you succeed. Considerations include:
- Mission/Vision: What is the agency hoping to achieve? Some agencies are about family support, work or community projects. You will want to be sure that you understand the mission and focus of each agency.
- Work or Work Readiness Training: The goal of an agency’s work readiness training should be integrated employment.
- Placements: How many individuals with disabilities were placed in competitive work last year? Does the agency make part-time and full-time placements? What is the average tenure for each placement?
- On-the-Job Supports: Does the agency offer to send a support person (typically called a “job coach”) to help people with disabilities who may need a little extra help the first few days of acclimating to a new job?
Establishing Roles and Responsibilities
Before you outline roles and responsibilities for the agencies, have a clear understanding of where you may need assistance, where you can be flexible and where you require strict adherence to standards.
Use this as a guide as you create a Roles and Responsibilities document for each agency. While it does not have to be a formal contract, it should clearly state what the agency will be responsible for, the acceptable timing for meeting deliverables and the corresponding responsibilities of your company.
Conducting a Facility Tour
Providing facility tours is an excellent opportunity to share job specifications and expectations, as well as facility culture, with service providers. In fact, many employers require that any agency providing candidates to their disability employment and inclusion hiring initiative must tour the facility before sending a referral. It will set the stage for helping the agency understand the facility, job requirements, safety requirements, stamina, interaction with managers and coworkers, and much more.Toolkit: Facility Checklist (PDF)
- Items to Assess When Reviewing Service Providers (PDF)
- Sample Agency Questionnaire (PDF)
- Facility Checklist (PDF)