School Days to Pay Days An Employment Planning Guide for Families of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

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Figure Out What You Want And Need

Start by identifying what’s important to your young adult. Think about jobs or community experiences s/he has held in the past and what services worked and didn’t work. Other issues to address include:

Does my young adult need help figuring out the types of jobs and careers s/he would like and be good at?

Will his/her support needs change over time? Are there times when more help will be needed?

What’s most important? Pay and benefits? Fun people to work with? Safety and security? Location? Job satisfaction? Potential for promotions and growth?

Will help be needed to manage benefits, such as Social Security and MassHealth?

Will job coaching services be needed on the job, how often and for how long?

Will help be needed to identify activities for when s/he is not working?

Gather Information

Get the information you need to make a good decision about the services that will be best for your young adult and your family. Here are some suggestions for gathering information:

Talk to friends, families, and teachers who may be familiar with employment services.

Ask DDS and MRC/MCB for a list of provider organizations in your local area.

Find out if DDS and MRC/MCB have information and statistics on how successful programs have been in helping people find and keep jobs.

Read annual reports and other written material from the service providers.

Contact local self-advocacy and family advocacy groups for recommendations (see resource section).

Ask others for ideas and recommendations, getting a variety of viewpoints. Remember, what is important to others may not be important to you, and vice versa.

Investigate Employment Programs: What To Ask? What To Observe?

Visit and interview a variety of employment service provider programs and ask for consumer and family references. When you are visiting, pay attention to the general feeling you get about the program and staff when you are there. Is it a welcoming environment? Do you feel comfortable and respected? Take time to make some observations about the program: is it in a location which feels part of the community? Does the program have a supportive approach to providing employment assistance or is it more of a “take charge,” authoritative approach?

Below are questions to ask when you visit the provider. You don’t have to ask all of the questions but we hope the issues they address will help focus you during your visit. How your questions and concerns are answered will also help you compare various programs.

Learn about the organization and the basic services it offers:

How long have they been in business?

Which employers do they work with?

Does the organization offer a variety of services besides finding employment for people with disabilities or is the focus strictly on finding employment?

Does the program offer individual placements? Are group placements used?

If group placement is the approach, do these placements pay at least minimum wage?

Are workers on the employers’ payroll, or are workers paid by the provider?

Do workers have access to the benefits that all employees receive?

Who does the program serve; how many; what kind of disability; ages?

How many people did the program assist in finding jobs in the last year? How many were successfully hired? For what types of jobs? How long have they been on these jobs?

On average, how long does it take to find an individual a job?

Does the organization support people on the job during non-traditional hours (evenings, weekends)?

Can the program provide recommendations from people who have previously received services from them?

Learn about how the program works with individuals:

What is the program’s typical process for providing services to an individual? How are services tailored to individual needs?

How does the program help people figure out what kind of job the individual wants?

How much are the employees (placed by the program) earning? How many hours are they working? Do they receive benefits such as vacation, health insurance?

Have employees advanced or been promoted in their careers/jobs?

What happens when a person does not succeed on a job? Will the program help the individual a second or third time to get a job? Will there be ongoing support?

What opportunities exist for individuals to exercise control and choice over the services they receive?

Does the program emphasize the use of existing “natural supports” from employers and the community, or do program staff typically provide the majority of supports?

Learn about the program’s staff:

What kind of qualifications does staff have?

What is staff turnover like?

How long has the director been there?

What is staff-to-individual ratio? What are staff caseload sizes?

Appendix C

People with Intellectual Disabilities in Jobs Across Massachusetts


File Clerk



Bus Monitor


Microfilm Technician

Hair Salon Assistant

Truck Driver

Stock Person

Taxi Cab Detailer

Painter’s Assistant


Security Guard

Production Worker

Teacher’s Aide


Stable Hand

Funeral Home Usher


Dog Groomer’s Assistant

Retail Florist

Child Care Assistant

Locker Room Attendant

Grill Cook

Travel Specialist

Utility Worker

Stadium Groundskeeper

Machine Operator

Storeroom Clerk

Theatre Attendant

Car Washer

Medical Records Clerk


Banquet Room Set-up Person

Food Vendor

Postal Clerk

Library Assistant

Small Engine Repair Person

Maintenance Worker

Landscape Assistant

Service Clerk

Bike Mechanic

Carpenter’s Assistant

Mailroom Clerk

Office Assistant

Kitchen Aide

Laundry Attendant


Wet Hand Sander

Equipment Assembler

Building Services Aide

Stock Maintenance Worker

Inspection Prep Technician

Quality Control Inspector

Loom Cleaner

Ticket Taker

Nursery Worker

Lawn Care Worker

Redemption Center Sorter

Data Entry Clerk

Shipping and Receiving Worker

Dietary Aide



Delivery Assistant


Restaurant Set-up Person

Bus person

Cafeteria Worker

Field Hand

Printer’s Assistant

Radio Dispatcher

Sales Clerk

Food Handler

Pet Sitter
School Days to Pay Days

An Employment Planning Guide for Families of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

This publication was written by staff from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. It is informed and enriched by the experiences of individuals with intellectual disabilities, family members, school personnel, employment providers and others, who are all committed to creating a workforce that includes individuals with intellectual disabilities. As part of Work Without Limits, this publication is one of many tools designed to provide individuals and family members with the information and resources they need to achieve their employment goals.

Work Without Limits: A Massachusetts Disability Employment Initiative is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through a grant to the University of Massachusetts Medical School (CDFA No.93.768). Work Without Limits is managed through a partnership involving the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Commonwealth Medicine Center for Health Policy and Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Views expressed do not represent official policy of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the University of Massachusetts or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

For more information or to request print copies:

Department of Developmental Services

500 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118

(617) 727-5608

For a PDF version of this booklet:

For more information about Work Without Limits:

Work Without Limits

Center for Health Policy and Research

University of Massachusetts Medical School

333 South Street

Shrewsbury, MA 01545

(508) 856-2710

Institute for Community Inclusion/UMass Boston

100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125

(617) 287-4300

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without written permission, except you may download and use the pdf on our website for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Available in alternative formats upon request

1 These amounts are revised every year by the Social Security Administration.

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