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Welcome to the Massachusetts Employment First E-Newsletter

January 2016
In This Issue
MDSC Celebrates "Your Next Star"
Your Next Star screenshot
Check out the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress's new employment website, Your Next Star. With this site, the MDSC has launched its campaign to promote individuals with Down syndrome to employers and the community at large.
The site includes some great videos, as well as links to help you, others in your community, and employers to take action to support increased employment opportunities. 
This campaign is working in collaboration with the Regional Employment Collaboratives, which will provide a single point of contact for the employers responding to this campaign.
"For the MDSC and our members, people with Down syndrome having successful work lives directly relates to everything we do," said Maureen Gallagher, the executive director of MDSC. "Expectant parents need to know their children will have complete, fulfilling lives as adults. Families with school-age children need to know all their educational efforts will pay off in the real world. And employment is a huge part of the equation when talking about all our programs, whether it's related to inclusion, leadership, or social opportunities."
While focused on opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome, the information on the site is relevant for all who work with, live with, and spend time with individuals with intellectual disabilities. 
Volunteering, Internships and Unpaid Work Experiences: 
Legal and Practical Guidelines Has Been Updated
Thumbnail of updated resource material
One of the seven criteria required for unpaid work experience is a goal of employment in the individual's service plan. Past discussions with the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) indicated that any official planning document, including an ISP, would fulfill this requirement. However, based on more recent discussions with WHD, it appears that a stricter interpretation is prudent, and that only the service planning documents specified in the US DOL Handbook -- i.e., an Individual Plan for Employment from public vocational rehabilitation, or Individual Education Plan from a school system -- will fulfill this requirement.
This publication has been updated to reflect this most recent guidance. Providers are strongly encouraged to review any unpaid work experiences to insure that they are compliance with DOL requirements.
Look under Upcoming Training Opportunities for a webinar on this topic with author David Hoff!
NOD Launches 2016 Disability Employer Seal of Approval
NOD Launches 2016 Disability Employer Seal of Approval
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) has launched the 2016 Disability Employer Seal of Approval. This seal recognizes companies with exemplary hiring and employment practices.
To be considered for this new seal, companies must complete NOD's Disability Employment Tracker between January 13 and March 2. Winners will be announced in the spring. For more information, go to NOD's website
Upcoming Training Opportunities
Building Friendships at Work (Webinar)
Wednesday, January 27, 3:00-4:30PM
Rick Hawes
People with friends are happier than those who don't have friends. They have greater self-esteem. They are healthier, and they are safer. These benefits can be especially critical for people with disabilities in a world that still often isolates them.

Jim Ross

Join Jim Ross, co-coordinator of Widening the Circle, and Rick Hawes, director of employment services at the Berkshire County Arc, as we explore why cultivating friendships in the workplace is important, and how employment support professionals can contribute to this process.  

Volunteering, Internships and Unpaid Work Experiences: 
Legal and Practical Guidelines (Webinar)
Thursday, February 25, 2016, 3:00-4:30
David Hoff
Join David Hoff, a program director at the ICI, for a webinar that will look at legal and practical guidelines for unpaid work experiences and the role they play in efforts to expand employment opportunities and community experiences.

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