National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This year, the U.S. Department of Labor is celebrating the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the inspiring theme “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.”  Their Campaign for Disability Employment is currently engaged in a public outreach program to encourage employers to recognize the important contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace and works to promote positive employment outcomes for these individuals.  Their public service announcement serves as an important reminder that not all disabilities are visible and can be physical, intellectual, ambulatory, and more.  Click here to watch the PSA.

In the United States, 65.5% of individuals with disabilities between the ages of 21 and 64 are unemployed.  Additionally, 10.5% of disabled people nationwide are unemployed but actively seeking a job – that equals more than 2.8 million Americans with disabilities looking for work in the United States today!  To learn more about what you can do you help promote opportunities, inclusion, and employment for people with disabilities, click here.  If you have a disability and are seeking employment, visit Disability Job Exchange for resources.

In the upcoming year, Venture will continue to utilize our Supported Employment Program by identifying and assisting our program participants in cultivating and maintaining gainful employment.  If you are interested in hiring someone from our program, please contact Kevin Hughes at khughes@venturecs.org

 

DCF in the News…

Lately it seems impossible to go an entire week without seeing or hearing a story about the embattled Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.  Three recent tragedies, all involving children connected to DCF, have again put the department on the front pages of newspapers and led to cries for changes in the child welfare system.  Nonetheless, it is important that people look beyond the headlines and try to understand what DCF was created to do and to recognize the daily challenges state social workers must confront.

DCF has a simple and straight forward mission: Strive to protect children from abuse and neglect and, in partnership with families and communities, ensure children are able to grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. While the mission is easy to understand, achieving it is more than complicated.  DCF intervenes with thousands of families and children every year and in virtually every case it is with a family in active crisis.  Drug abuse, neglect, sexual trauma, criminal activity, poverty, and mental health issues are common concerns for DCF social workers trying to effectuate a positive change in a child’s life.  Helping a child overcome any one of these challenges seems daunting enough but helping a child thrive when confronted with most or all of these challenges is a herculean task. Headlines rarely capture these elements when dedicating 350 words or 75 seconds of air time to a case that DCF may have spent years trying to salvage.

Fortunately, change is on the way.  Governor Charlie Baker has put forth major changes in an effort to support DCF and its mission.  In addition to over $35 million in new funding, DCF has new procedures for tracking children and families, reducing caseloads for employees, training staff, assessing risk, managing intakes, and emergency responses.  There is also an investment in technology and in resources such as reopening a shuttered regional office in Worcester.   Given that DCF is tasked with saving at-risk children it seems likely that the department will always be a lightning rod when something goes wrong.  Hopefully, all of the changes to DCF moving forward will help to shine a light on the countless times every year that things go right.

Mike Hyland, Venture President & CEO


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