The State of California's Employment First Policy makes employment of individuals with developmental disabilities one of the state's highest priorities "regardless of the severity of their disabilities." Unfortunately, too few options exist to bridge gaps to employment. Unemployment rates of those with intellectual and other developmental disabilities has historically hovered around 86% unemployment in San Diego County.
To help provide an outcome-driven solution to address this high rate of unemployment Beacons, Inc. has worked with the San Diego Regional Center to expand its successful PathFinder vocational workshops from a single 4-month workshop, to four 5-month workshops to support post-secondary individuals in need of more time to learn and explore employment skills and options. "This could be a game changer for individuals who thought they would never be able to work," said a parent who preferred to remain nameless to preserve the confidentiality of her son.
The original PathFinder program was launched in 2019 to provide hands-on training in the areas of creative design, customer service, entrepreneurial skills, office skills, writing to make a living and more. Each workshop includes extensive workplace soft-skills practice, accommodation planning, job searches, interview practice, vocational skills training and practice, hands-on training in simulated and community settings, and job counseling. PathFinder's fall workshops resulted in 100% competitive integrated employment of those who wanted to work.
This newest Beacons addition, currently using a working name of "Explorer," will differ from the current PathFinder program in that instead of a single 4-month workshop targeting a single subject area 3 hours daily, Explorer will used a "blended" schedule that breaks down components of the existing PathFinder curriculum so that they can be taught in smaller time increments (e.g. 1 hour versus 3 hours) to target a variety of skills to help trainees learn more about their local employment options and related skills. Workshops will be capped at 12 trainees and have a ratio of 3:1 and training options between 9 am - 3 pm with a variety of schedule options. The first session of Explorer will run from April 4 - June 30, and resume August 1. The original PathFinder division will offer mini vocational exploration workshops during the summer starting from July 5 - July 29, 2022.
Funding for the Explorer option is available through the San Diego Regional Center (for eligible trainees), private pay, or the state's Self-Determination program. Leading this new option will be Director Bethany Britt, a former San Dieguito Union High School District special education teacher.
For more information, contact: Explorer@BeaconsNorthCounty.com.