Monday, January 29, 2018

Teresa Harold Planned her Success with Transitional Services

When Teresa first began working with The Choice Group, she was a young lady finishing up her last year in high school and planning for her future. She was beginning to explore employment opportunities and starting to ask what a good career fit would be for her, but Teresa already knew the answer!  She was emphatic about becoming a baker. Teresa and her job coach, Justin, began working together to learn more about what was involved in a career as a baker. By completing situational assessments throughout the community, Teresa was able to gain hands-on experience with local businesses such as grocery store bakeries, cupcake shops, bread bakers, and fast food restaurants that prepared baked goods in-house. Through completing multiple assessments arranged by Justin, Teresa was able to truly hone in on her passion—cake decorating—and continued to build her skills with practice and baking courses offered in her high school as she prepared for graduation.

Throughout this time, Justin worked with Teresa on identifying appropriate environments for her, the supports necessary for her to be successful, and developed realistic expectations about the labor market and skills required to prepare for entering this field.

Once Teresa graduated from high school, she was armed with a portfolio of her cake decorating experience during her time in high school, as well as having several paid internships that she participated in, all which came about from situational assessments. Teresa and her job coach sought out job leads in the community; reaching out to employers and marketing her strengths—a fantastic attitude, her dedication and focus, and her passion for baking.

With the help of Justin, Teresa sent a letter to Carytown Cupcakes detailing her experience and desire to work as a baker and was offered an opportunity for a paid working interview. The employer noted that it was important the environment be a good fit for Teresa as well and wanted to offer her the opportunity to ensure she would enjoy the position by trying it out first. After two days working in their kitchen, she was offered the baker’s assistant position and gladly accepted!

Teresa began working immediately and quickly built up her skill set by learning how to scoop cupcake batter, bake the cupcakes, and ice the cupcakes using different icing tips. Her job coach, Justin, worked with Teresa on building her speed and accuracy by approaching tasks systematically, built natural supports to help her increase independence on the work site, and to navigate the complexities that sometimes face individuals as they begin their first job.

As of December, Teresa has moved into follow-along services, no longer requiring hands-on training support and is independently able to complete all her job duties. Her employer notes that they are happy to have her on their team and that she improves every day. For some, those remarks would be reward enough, for Teresa, the reward is the opportunity to do something that she is passionate about. As she states, “I love getting to come to work and being able to do this every day!”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Introducing New Therapeutic Behavior Services

We have many programs we offer to our clients, and they have now expanded to include Therapeutic Behavior Services:

Therapeutic Behavior Services are provided to clients with challenging behaviors that interfere with
community engagement, independent living, and employment. Using Applied Behavior Analysis and a person-centered approach, clients and their support teams are given the skills necessary to decrease
these challenging behaviors and replace them with ones that will help fulfill their goals. A Board
Certified Behavior Analyst will make assessments, develop support plans, train, and supervise behavioral interventions so that clients may make meaningful progress toward their goals.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Counselor Highlight: Jessica Womack!

Jessica Womack has been a counselor for The Choice Group in the Southwest region of Virginia for over a year now! She specializes in CSS work, Community Support Services. Job seeking is not the only important step for many individuals seeking to maximize independence and with Jessica’s skills, she helps her clients prepare for other life tasks. Time management, grocery shopping and meal preparation, personal safety, laundry, medication, and money management are just a few of the everyday activities many of us take for granted but can seem daunting for an individual on their own for the first time.  One of her favorite parts of the job is that she “loves being able to work collaboratively with other counselors for the common cause of servicing individuals with disabilities in her community.” Keep up the good work, Jessica!