Work. Engage. Achieve.
April 2018        |        Volume #3 Issue #4
As Services Change, So Does Our Language

In November 2015, ACHIEVA first announced plans to transition from facility-based vocational and day services toward person-centered and community inclusive lives for all those who choose our supports. Our efforts were driven by our vision, to witness a community where disability is a distinction that makes no difference.

As we parted from providing workshops and transitioned into promoting competitive employment opportunities and inclusive experiences for people with disabilities, the shift prompted other changes. Interest inventories of both participants and staff were conducted. Job titles were revised along with job descriptions. Person-centered planning emerged and focus moved from vocational training to a diversified mix of offerings.

The 'vocational department' will transition to the title of Employment Supports
Our mindset and approach to traditional 'vocational supports' has fully transformed. Thus, our language must also evolve. The 'vocational department' will transition to the title of Employment Supports with our full focus being on the following services:
  • Competitive Employment
  • Small Group Employment
  • Business Operations
  • Community Participation
Looking forward, ACHIEVA will focus on the whole scope of services offered in order to fulfill the commitment that we have made to support people in their pursuit of Everyday Lives. We plan to turn challenges into opportunities by building upon our core service offerings with the addition of Transportation, Benefits Counseling, and Advanced Supported Employment.

Moving forward, please join ACHIEVA in the use of a new name for a new era - Employment Supports. We look forward to continued success for the people we support as we strengthen and expand the services we provide.

Community-Based Assessment Highlights

At ACHIEVA, Pathway to Employment participants are offered abundant options for completing Community-Based Assessments. Recent additions to the Community-Based Assessment (CBA) partner list provide a diverse mix of opportunities for those seeking inclusive employment.
CBAs provide the chance for people supported by ACHIEVA Employment Specialists to "try on" various jobs through partnering organizations. What's the result? Hours packed with enjoyable learning experiences!

Here's a list of ACHIEVA's newest CBA partners and examples of the opportunities provided:
  • Shop 'n Save in Wilkins Township has agreed to become a CBA partner, with the hopes of hiring some ACHIEVA explorers and seekers! The explorers will be able to work alongside a cashier bagging groceries, completing "go backs", stocking, and carrying out light cleaning tasks. 
  • Monroeville Rehab & Wellness will allow explorers to shadow activity directors, transport residents to and from various activities, assist with bingo and craft day, and other activities the residents participate in. They will also have the opportunity to work in the resident store and the laundry area.
  • Keystone Foam is offering CBAs as well as working interview opportunities. Their HR Director is passionate about helping ACHIEVA provide paid community integrated employment.
  • New Horizons is providing the chance for explorers to assist with setting up for seminars, events, and job fairs while having their customer service skills assessed. In addition, seminars are open to all participants who want to brush up on technology use and positive assertiveness.
Ryan completes a work assessment at Keystone Foam

Frank remained focused during a rainy CBA at Penn Forest Burial Park in Verona.

A day at Pennrose put a smile on Bob's face.

For more information on CBAs, contact  Lesley Beasom,  Community-Based Assessment Coordinator at 

Partnership with Iron City Workplace Services Honored 

Tammy works three days a week at the ICWS document scanning division.
At ACHIEVA's annual fundraising event, the "Pittsburgh Promenade", Iron City Workplace Services was honored as a local Pittsburgh business that is creating an integrated workplace for people with disabilities. Here's what they have to say about the success of their partnership with ACHIEVA.


Americans With Disabilities Close in on Two Years of Job Gains
Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire release nTIDE Report -- monthly update

The major economic indicators held more good news for Americans with disabilities, according to National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).  Gains for jobseekers with disabilities moved higher for the 23rd consecutive month. Several factors may be contributing to ongoing job growth. By addressing policies that hinder employment opportunities, state-level initiatives are making progress toward greater inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce. 
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released in March 2018, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 28.1 percent in February 2017 to 30.5 percent in February 2018 (up 8.5 percent; 2.4 percentage points).  For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 72.8 percent in February 2017 to 73.5 percent in February 2018 (up 1 percent; 0.7 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).


Willing and Able: Workers With a Disability Prove Their Value in Tight Labor Market
From Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

Julie Propp landed her first-ever job about 18 months ago - at age 55.

A part-time retail helper at a Kwik Trip convenience store in Marshalltown, Iowa, Juile cleans and ensures coffee cups and other items are well-stocked. She previously loaded boxes in workshops run by agencies that help people with disabilities but never had a traditional job because of a developmental disability.

She prefers her current gig. "It's more money and more hours," says Julie, who earns $10.90 an hour and will soon get a bump to $11.25. "Some customers are so nice."

With the low 4.1 percent unemployment rate making it tougher for employers to hire and retain workers, more are bringing on Americans with disabilities who had long struggled to find jobs. Many firms are modifying traditional interviews that filter out candidates with less-refined social skills and transferring some job duties to other staffers to accommodate the strengths of people with disabilities.

"In a tight labor market, employers who usually might not hire some of these people are reaching (deeper) in the queue," says Harry Holzer, a public policy professor at Georgetown University.
Kwik Trip launched its program to place people with disabilities in retail helper jobs in 2013. About half of the company's 634 stores in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin have such workers. Turnover for retail helpers was just 9  percent last year compared to 45  percent for all part-time employees, says Joalyn Torgerson, Kwik Trip's return-to-work coordinator.

Julie is "always looking for more stuff she can do," store Manager Sheila Earney says.


ACHIEVA is committed to providing full community inclusion for people with disabilities. 
Through employment, volunteer and community experiences, ACHIEVA is transforming its vocational supports and  introducing its customers  to new and rewarding opportunities in their  communities and outside of ACHIEVA facilities. 

If you have questions or would like more information regarding ACHIEVA's Employment Supports, please feel free to contact Eric Welsh, Vice President, Employment Supports 412.995.5000 (x520).