Job Readiness Career Fair
STRENGTHENING FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
The L.E.T.S. (Life, Education, Training, Skills) started with 25 students, and as a result of the dire need, enrollment continues to increase. The Arc Mid-South’s sole purpose of the L.E.T.S. Program is to prepare young adults from low-income families, with cognitive disabilities to obtain their GED, and to educate individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the areas of life skills, such as health and wellness, sex education, homemaking, safety awareness, housing, transportation, effective communication, and navigating benefits. The outcome of the program is to increase the confidence and self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities.
The community at large is better off in a society where a large portion of people are more educated and more productive. Although education problems are prominent in the United States, in 2008, the national school dropout rate was estimated at 8% of individuals ages 16 to 24 either not enrolled in school or without their diplomas/GEDs. United States Census specifies that only 56% of the students with special needs receive a High School Diploma upon graduation, rather than a certificate of attendance.
Young Adults that have not obtained a High School Diploma or GED are more likely to live in poverty and to receive government assistance. Many young adults that fail to obtain their High School Diploma, without the support of a family member or program such as L.E.T.S., are also more likely to become involved in crime. The L.E.T.S. program provides a safe haven and a daily program for young adults to attend, which decreases the probability of crime. Individuals without a daily routine are more likely to become involved in crime. Negative outcomes, along with diminished labor force participation exact a high economic toll on society.
Poverty can be caused by many different problems. One cause of poverty is that people who have a lower than average ability to earn income are more likely to be poorer than those people who are high achievers in the workplace. The group most affected by this cause is generally the elderly, individuals with disabilities, the feeble-minded, single mothers, and many minority figures.
The L.E.T.S. Program is designed to give these young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to obtain their GED, acquire skills geared for employment, seek employment opportunities, and to educate individuals for everyday life skills. This program is designed to assist the individuals in becoming contributors in the community in which they reside; thus decreasing the need for the individuals to rely on government assistance, increasing literacy, and in turn, reducing the financial impact of the economy.
"Illiteracy carries economic costs as well as personal problems. The report 'Literacy, Education and Training and their Impact on the UK Economy', by Ernst and Young, suggests that illiteracy costs business and government £10 billion a year.”
Students worked on GED preparation, including Mathematics and Basic Skills, some of the students have learned to complete multiplication, fractions, working on time management, team work and handling stress and dealing with conflicts.
Students have improved their listening skills, and participation in the class. As a result of increasing their participation, they are actively involved in completing independent exercises, and group exercises that encourage independence, and teamwork. The varying types of disabilities have been a challenge during classroom instruction. Depending upon the severity of the disability, some of the student’s need more one-on-one instruction. There is a high demand and a great need for additional instructors or volunteers to assist in the classroom with one-on-one instruction, and classroom instruction.
The changes made in the initial setting to separate the students based on the level of learning, and the level of comprehension has ensured that the students that have difficulty learning are receiving instruction at a much slower pace. The students will continue to attend classes as long as needed and to prepare for their GED Test.
Many students have demonstrated an improvement in their self esteem, determination, and their confidence. The students have shown an improvement in their punctuality and attendance, and the outbursts that were demonstrated in their behavior in the beginning of the 12 week session have significantly improved. Social skills have improved within the classroom. Recently, the students performed publically at a program celebrating Disability Awareness Month which included a talent show hosted by The Arc.
Career Development and Job Readiness
Students attending L.E.T.S. classes received training and assistance in locating employment. The number of students employed during the first 12-week session of the L.E.T.S. Program is four. The Job Readiness staff worked with students in preparing them for employment and locating positions. The job developer instructed students in completion of application, interviewing skills and dressing for the position. The job developers are responsible for following up with the students to offer support in their employment. The students hired during this period have retained employment for at least six months.
The students from L.E.T.S. Program as well as approximately 80 students from eight local high schools attended a Job Readiness Workshop hosted by The Arc Mid-South. The students were given an opportunity to receive information from community leaders and educators regarding transition from school into the work force. Day Two of the workshop provided an opportunity for students to meet with employers at the career fair. (see photos)
The Respite Care program allows families to have their loved ones at home with them and provide relief of 24 hour caregiver responsibilities. During the months of January through March, 2012, 42 campers attended the weekend retreats. Weekend retreats give the campers an opportunity to interact with peers in a fun and safe environment. Continued budget cuts to families reduce the number of campers able to attend the weekend retreats. A donation of $1000 will provide four full camperships. The Respite Care Program gives caregivers an opportunity to take a break and have time for themselves. Many of the caregivers are provided an opportunity to continue in their careers, and the security of knowing that their loved one is cared for by a trained, and caring professional in the safety of their residential home.
Thank you for taking the time to view Strengthening Families and Communities Project. The Arc Mid-South appreciates any support you can provide to continue these projects. With your support, The L.E.T.S. Program and Respite Care Program will continue to be successful.
Contact The Arc Mid-South with ideas and to gather more support for these programs and the agency. Visit The Arc Mid-South at www.thearcmidsouth.org.
Job Readiness Class Session
LETS Students Performance The Arc Talent Show
LETS Student Poetic Presentation-Arc Talent Show