ViaQuest News

Community Career Connections Partnership: Training High School Students for Careers in Intellectual/Developmental Disability Field

Columbus – The Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA) in collaboration with the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals, have developed a plan that will provide high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to learn about the field of direct support through in-class training, on-site internships, and the opportunity to earn the Certificate of Initial Proficiency (CIP) and the Certificate of Advance Proficiency (CAP) through the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals.

This program, known as the Community Connections Career Partnership Ohio affords each student an opportunity to learn about a career that is in need of qualified workers, provides flex credits, and educates through a provider-based internship. Following graduation, students will be encouraged to apply for jobs as direct support professionals.

These full-time jobs are in demand and come with full benefits, as well as opportunities for advancement. By having earned the CIP and CAP credentials, the students will have an excellent advantage of being hired by any I/DD direct service provider in the State of Ohio.

At South-Western City Schools, the first program began at Franklin Heights High School in Columbus on August 31, 2015. Sophomore students who were enrolled in the Career Based Intervention class were encouraged to apply last year as candidates for the program.

Steve Stivers - C3P(O)Of the students interviewed, a total of 13 students are participating in the first class. Congressman Steve Stivers spoke to the students on September 1, 2015 (photo courtesy of OPRA, 2015). This class will begin in their junior year of high school and will be completed by the end of the school year with the students earning their CIP credential.

While working on the coursework, students will also participate in a four-day-per-week internship at area providers (ViaQuest, Heinzerling Foundation and Columbus Center for Human Services) who serve a diverse population, which will ensure a well-rounded career experience. Students can then continue during their senior year to earn their CAP credential. Stipends for completion of both the CIP and CAP will be awarded at a graduation ceremony at the end of each year.

Aligning this project with provider agencies in Ohio creates a win-win environment. Provider agencies will have access to a pool of qualified candidates who have already been trained and certified to fill currently vacant positions. This will help reduce the direct support vacancy gap and reduce turnover.

It is estimated that 20,000+ students currently in their sophomore year of high school are in Career Based Intervention classes throughout Ohio. When these students enter their junior year, there is no other structured option for them to build skills and gain experience that will lead to a career. OPRA and OADSP expects to have five additional locations in Ohio offering the program in the 2016-17 school year.

Source: Mark Davis, President, OPRA