Partnering to Create Employment for People With Disabilities
Parents Alliance Employment Project (PAEP) was founded in 1982 by parents fighting to mainstream their children with disabilities in public schools and their DuPage County, Illinois communities. Today, PAEP is an accredited state provider for people with disabilities serving DuPage and three surrounding counties. The organization is a leading Supported Employment Provider offering individuals with disabilities career counseling, job training and preparation, job development, job placement, job coaching, support, and follow-up services.
PAEP helps 200 people with disabilities find employment every year. It works with Northwestern Medicine, which hosts three Project SEARCH sites that offer three 10-week internships that allow them to gain real-life vocational skills in various hospital departments. Another program, Inspired by Ability, is a paid job training program for individuals with disabilities between 18 to 24 who have exited the school system.
Even with successful programs and 40 years of experience training and placing employees with disabilities, finding the right employment situation for each client can be challenging for organizations like PAEP. “Every client has unique abilities and disabilities, and some can be challenging to place,” said Maggie Meyer, Vocational Transitionist at PAEP. “Finding the ‘job’ is just the beginning of a successful long-term placement. Employers and employees both need support.”
When Casey Nunes, Employment Success Manager at PRIDE Industries, approached PAEP about matching the organization’s candidates with job opportunities through our Inclusive Talent Solutions partners, they knew they had found an invaluable partner. “We discussed our team and our candidates and how we could advocate for our employees,” Maggie said. “We started with two janitorial positions at Ingram Micro, and the relationship has grown from there.”
“The relationship works because Casey and PRIDE Industries are on-site to support the employer and the employee,” said PAEP program manager Khushbu Davi. “Employees get the accommodations they need, and employers get workers that exceed expectations.” PRIDE Industries and PAEP have since filled many permanent positions to date at Ingram Micro.
“I can’t overstate how valuable it is to have a partner that ‘gets it,’” Maggie said. “Casey and PRIDE Industries understand that you can’t just fill a position and step away.” She tells the story of Jad, a person who is non-verbal, who faced challenges to obtaining employment due to communication barriers. PAEP and PRIDE Industries helped Jad land a position as a fulfillment packager with a supportive employer. Both are thrilled. “When you get that right fit, it is such a great feeling,” Maggie said.
- Employment Preparation and Placement
- Job Coaching