The owner of Buckner Employment Service and Training (BEST), Carol J. Buckner, has more than 30 years of results-oriented experience in strategic market planning, job analysis, job development, contract negotiation, and client/public relations within social service and employment-related environments. When employed with the Butler County (OH) Board of Development Disabilities, Ms. Buckner developed the Board’s enclave program. Since her retirement from the Board, she has developed BEST to support individuals via job placement, customized employment, and self-employment development, mostly in Butler County, but also in other areas in southwest Ohio. While employed by the State of Ohio, Ms. Buckner worked with job seekers and businesses to match people’s skills and interests with needs of employers, resulting in successful job placements. She is also the proud recipient of the Governor’s award for developing the most jobs for veterans statewide.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT
BEST believes that all people with disabilities can find meaningful employment and that the organization must stretch itself to the very maximum to find a match between a person’s interests, a person’s skills, and the needs of an employer.
ATTENTION TO CHOICES AND AMBITIONS
BEST intends to use methods that rely on continued listening to the person being supported that build on this person’s passions, interests, and skills.
BEST uses person-centered planning techniques – including PATH (© Inclusion Press) and “Discovering Personal Genius” (© Griffin-Hammis Associates) to help employment-seekers and their families be clear about their desired futures. Person-centered planning then helps employment-seekers and BEST to organize pathways toward desired employment goals.
WHAT BEST OFFERS TO EMPLOYMENT-SEEKERS
The customized employment process is a flexible blend of strategies, services, and supports designed to increase employment options for individuals with disabilities. It may include employment developed through job carving, self-employment or entrepreneurial initiatives, or job development or restructuring strategies that result in job responsibilities being customized and individually negotiated to fit the needs of individuals with a disability.
Customized Employment starts with identifying the interests, abilities, and goals of an individual in order to discover his or her potential contributions. The individual seeking employment is the primary source of information and drives the process. The process uses an exploration and discovery phase that lays the foundation for employment planning. Planning results in a map for the job search or for self-employment. Employment relationships areas negotiated to meet the needs of both the job seeker and the employer.
- Self-employment is a form of customized employment in which BEST assists the employment-seeker (and his/her allies) to imagine, develop, finance, and successfully operate a small business that fits the employment-seekers interests and the market needs of his or her community.
- Supported employment means competitive work in integrated work settings that match the strengths, resources, abilities, interests, and choice of individuals with the most significant disabilities, for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred. Supported employment is intended for individuals who, because of the nature and severity of their disability, need regular or intensive on-the-job coaching, training, or other support in order to perform the work.
KEEPING EMPLOYMENT AS THE PRIMARY FOCUS
Historic and societal pressures that run counter to employment and significant earnings by people with disabilities have distracted or discouraged many employment projects in the past. BEST faces a similar challenge – keeping its “eyes on the prize” of employment development. A new Ohio emphasis on “Employment First” and efforts like the recently completed customized employment training offered statewide by Griffin-Hammis Associates are advantages of which BEST can try to make good use.
HOW BEST PLANS SUPPORT FOR EACH EMPLOYMENT-SEEKER
BEST uses person-centered planning in order to begin to develop employment plans with clients.
Whenever possible, BEST arranges for the person beginning employment planning to participate in a PATH (© Inclusion Press) planning session, with the person’s family and closest allies. PATH is an interactive planning method that begins with a vision or image of the best possible future for the person, moves through steps to delineate goals that will move the person toward the vision and then works “backwards” to arrive at action steps that the person and other can take right away to bring the vision to reality.
BEST uses the “Discovering Personal Genius” (© Griffin-Hammis Associates) approach to person-centered employment planning with every person who seeks employment support through BEST. A “Discovery Staging Record” is compiled through more than 20 hours of interviews with the employment seeker and his or her family, time spent in community places, and informational conversation with business owners. The record directly supports BEST’s work plan for employment assistance to each individual.
Ms. Buckner also meets regularly with each person’s Individual Support Team to contribute to overall team planning and to make sure that BEST’s actions are coordinated with the work of other agencies or individuals who may also support the entrepreneurial endeavor.
ACCOMMODATING INDIVIDUAL NEEDS
BEST learns about each person’s (potential) need for accommodation in the work world by means of:
- Personal meeting with potential employment seeker as part of the referral process.
- Referral information provided to BEST as part of the referral process.
- Conversation with other members of the person’s Individual Support Team (i.e., DD Board or ORSC) together with the “Individual Service Plan” prepared by the Team.
- “Discovering Personal Genius” – interviews with person, family, friends, other service providers.
BEST is flexible. BEST provide the supports agreed to in an employment-seeker’s Individual Plan, respecting the budgets established by referral/funding agencies. Hours and days of service are flexible, according the needs of individuals who are supported. All BEST support is provided by BEST personnel.