Beacons Pathfinder Program
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Real life pathways need real life training!
Here at Beacons, we believe that everyone should be able to be lifelong learners to develop their skills and interests!
Structured postsecondary instruction can dramatically improve the employability of those with developmental disabilities. However, those with developmental disabilities often need smaller ratios and settings to learn and apply the vocational skills taught. Most educational institutions are not able to provide vocational instruction that uses small ratios and adapted pacing due to funding, staffing costs or space constraints. At Beacons, our workshops have ratios of less than 4 to 1, with workshops capped at 10 trainees with 3 instructional staff. (For individuals still in an adult transition program, please click here).
In Spring 2019, with the help of a grant from the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR), Beacons opened its doors to launch vocational workshops that are curriculum supported, assistive technology rich, progress monitored and outcome driven. As a result of the significant improvement in skills and knowledge our pilot trainees demonstrated, on August 19, 2019, the San Diego Regional Center approved Beacons, Inc. as a state funded vendor to join its efforts to build bridges to the workforce.
Each vocational workshop includes the opportunity to earn digital badges and skill certificates to reflect the skills and levels learned. Employment pathways and community exploration with local employers are built into each workshop.
Results of our spring pilot? Click here to learn more! ☺
Programming is designed for those with mild/moderate intellectual/developmental disabilities. Beacons, Inc. does not currently have sufficient staffing to support participants with a history of elopement, bullying, disruptive behaviors, self injurious behaviors or behaviors that are likely to injure others, or who have medical or other issues that require 1:1 assistance or monitoring. While we hope to expand programming options as we build our resources to serve all persons with developmental disabilities, the Pathfinder vocational training programs are not designed for those with a history of the above items at this time. Please contact us at if additional support is needed but can be
provided through agency or caregiver support.
2021 PATHFINDER WORKSHOPS
June 28 - July 29
August 23 - December 17
WHY POSTSECONDARY WORKSHOPS?
In 2013, California enacted an Employment First Policy to make employment of those with developmental disabilities one of the state's highest priorities. Since 2014, the employment rate of those with developmental disabilities rose to approximately 27% in 2019 throughout the state. However, per data from the CA Department of Developmental Services, only around 13.96% of individuals who are regional center clients are employed in the San Diego area, which is 13% below the already low state and national employment averages. For women, employment rates are closer to 12%, and for those on the spectrum, unemployment can be as low as 10%.
The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability found that some of the important "guideposts" for improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities are: 1. "structured exposure to postsecondary education and other life-long learning opportunities," and 2. "training designed to improve job-seeking skills and work-place basic skills." Studies have shown that individuals with developmental disabilities who participate in postsecondary education reap significantly enhanced access to employment, with some studies showing an almost 50% increase in employment and up to a 57% increase in earnings.* Yet despite the demonstrated impact of postsecondary education on employment outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities, very few structured employment-related postsecondary vocational training options exist in North County San Diego.
Beacons, Inc. is leading the charge in North County to offer postsecondary workforce workshops that are progress monitored, structured, low ratio and accessible to those in need of smaller settings, more individualized pacing, and assistive technology.
All programming follows the Universal Design Guidelines and integrates assistive technology and hands-on exploration to optimize teaching and learning. Programming is guided by the dedication of the families who founded Beacons, Inc., but driven by the needs and interests of the individuals who seek empowerment in their daily lives. Join us today to help build a pathway for tomorrow!
*See, e.g., Migliore, Butterworth & Hart (2009). See also Smith, Grigal & Shepard (2018) (63.7% of youth with ID who received postsecondary education had paid integrated employment upon exiting with weekly earnings averaging $302, versus $200 for those who did not have postsecondary education).
Workforce Planning Workshop: Office Skills
Per U.S. Dept. of Labor, only approximately 27% of individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) are employed in the State of California (compared to 90% of those without disabilities). In San Diego county, employment rates for those with DD is lower with only around approximately 13.96% employment, which is about 13% lower than the 2019 state average. Rates are even lower for women (12.4%), and for those with certain disability diagnoses. Solutions are urgently needed.
Can ATP students attend workshops?
Yes, as long as they otherwise meet the entrance criteria for the program (see below). Attendance in workshops should be driven by the individual's choice and interest in learning about the areas addressed by the workshops.
Ages: 18+ with developmental disabilities who have earned a diploma, aged out of the district, or who are not participating full time in a district's adult transition program.
Self Care Skills: Trainees must be independent in their self-care skills. If they are unable to independently tend to their self-care, they must be accompanied by a trainee-provided personal care attendant.
Medical, Mental Health & Physical: The pathfinder workshops offer assistive technology, accommodations and adapted tools to support those with physical disabilities, but does not offer medical care or medical assistance onsite. Individuals with medical needs that require the support of a personal care attendant may attend if accompanied by a trained and self-provided personal care attendant authorized to tend to the medical and other needs of the trainee.
Individuals with mental health or other conditions/behaviors that may make them disruptive, or cause unsafe conditions for themselves or others are not suitable for the Pathfinder program.
Beacons staff does not administer medications or have emergency response teams in place to address or support individuals with significant behavioral challenges.
Educational Disabilities: The Pathfinder curriculum and instruction is specifically. designed for those with mild/moderate disabilities who are able to attend to lessons, follow and reasonably comply with instructional demands and instructor’s commands. Trainees learn to use a variety of assistive technology such as screen readers, text-to-speech, speech-to text, and other tools to access instructional materials despite reading or other educationally-related deficits.
Behaviors: Trainees with a history of physical aggression resulting in or risking physical injury to others, self-injurious behaviors, damage to property, elopement, smearing of feces, displays of inappropriate sexual behavior, defiance and/or behaviors that impede the learning of self or others, or other disruptive or maladaptive behaviors, are not eligible for the Pathfinder program.
Under § 4648.55 of the Lanterman Act, the SDRC normally cannot pay for services for individuals aged 18 to 22 years if that consumer is still eligible for special education through a school district. However, if the IPP team agrees that the "consumer's needs cannot be met in the educational system" or grants an exemption under subsection (d), the SDRC may purchase vocational education services for individuals still eligible for special education through the district.
District's may fund a workshop:
If the IEP team agrees that a workshop is needed to help a student meet his/her ITP transition goals related to securing competitive integrated employment or a paid internship.
2) Settlement Agreements:
In the event of disagreement, services may still be obtained through a settlement agreement with the district.
EMPLOYMENT FIRST POLICY
"It is the policy of the state that opportunities for integrated employment shall be the highest priority for working age individuals with developmental disabilities regardless of the severity of their disabilities." WIC Sect. 4869(a)(1)