Episode #62 Interview with Job Coach Terry Bolda with Engaged Employment

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 Engaged Employment helps adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities overcome barriers to gain independence and provides comprehensive employment services and partnerships with employers. Their vision is for all adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities to have the support and services they need to be successful in jobs, thus creating neurodiversity in as many workplaces as possible.

Find out more at https://engagedemployment.com/

Terry Bolda is a job coach with SOS Healthcare, Inc., a state-approved provider of supportive employment services. He is a board member of the newly-formed South Carolina Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) and a member of the Employment Work Group of Greenville Collaboration Action Network.

He helps adults with autism, Down syndrome, and other intellectual disabilities obtain and keep good jobs in their communities. Having a son and nephew on the autism spectrum, he brings personal and professional experience to the workplace. A Wisconsin native, Terry has served in leadership roles with social service agencies in marketing communications and development since 2003.

Automatic Transcription from Otter.ai

services, vocational rehab, employment, disability, working, south carolina, coach, people, job, plan, case, provide, employer, terry, call, nonprofit, 40s, interview, high school, autism

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we have another very special guest. We've got Mr. Terry Bolden out of Greenville, South Carolina. Welcome to the show.

Yeah. Hi, Tasha. Good to be with you.

Thank you. So, Terry, you are with engaged employment and upstate South Carolina? On Can you tell me a little bit about your organization?

Yes, it's specifically for providing supportive employment services for people through private pay. So it's the people that do not qualify or do not qualify for Medicaid services through the state, or people that do, but they're on a waiting list in South Carolina, we have waiting lists for services that can be a year and a half or more. So, you know, the first thing parents should know, and this is throughout the country, is you don't wait. If your children are in 10th grade, you're almost getting too late. You need to get your services lined up. So that you're ready when they get out of high school, that they can start getting the help that they need for employment. But so many do fall through the cracks. So that's why I started up engaged employment as a way to help those people, you know, through private paid,

huh. Awesome.

That is so awesome. And in working with, with different individuals, what would what are the ages that you are working with right now? You know, the

waiver services are for anybody actually, that for some reason, they make it 16. That's probably for the very advanced students. But they they do need to be out of school. So most of the people I work with are graduated from high school, they're 18 up into their 40s. I even had a woman who was in her 60s, who was working in food service. And she had to retire. Yeah, actually, it was too much for her to do. But I mean, so it goes all the way up. But the key thing is, is that you're not in education program, you're available for part time to full time employment.

So you mentioned, you know, people generally, it's best to start, you know, their sophomore year of high school, at the very latest, right. So when, when to when somebody calls you and is interested in working with you What are some of like, the first steps are the first sort of onboarding things that you do with them to sort of get them on into an employment situation?

Well, the first thing they have to have is a diagnosis of some disability, a disability. And in my case, it's a cognitive intellectual disability are the people I work with. So you need to get that. And then with that, you make contact with your state, you know, disability service, South Carolina's department, disabilities and special needs, and they get you approved for services. And as long as you have a diagnosis, you will get approved. And then you need to get case management, which I think is pretty typical. Wherever you go. Some states they work more with vocational rehab, and then vocational rehab out sources, to providers in South Carolina. It's a separate system, you got vocational rehab, in the department of disability special needs. So that's just how it works here. But you need to be connected somehow for a case management. And then with that, then that opens the door for the services as you can get for all

those waivers that have

different things. And yes, there's a lot of different services available, you know, for people, and

you know, certainly one of them is employment, and that's what I do. And so for people who maybe aren't located within your service areas, is it fair to say that the process is pretty similar geographically? I mean, yeah, I

think I think it is, it's just a matter of if you go to something outside of vocational rehab, or if that's vocational rehab often is the first place you go and then they they handle so much of the services and needs in the schools. Then once they get out of school. That's where it gets a little more complicated. And then you get involved with providers,

and that's where you're really coming into service and need and bridge a gap and provide a very much needed service for for everyone. When they age out, you know, transitioning out I was reading Some research and, you know, there's over 110,000 children, you know, each year that are aging out of school based services, and there's not really much there afterwards, you know, unless they are already in the process of being networked in with the waivers and case management. So with the integrative Employment Solutions and all the supportive stuff that you do, can you share a little bit about how that works?

Oh, that works? Mm hmm. Okay. Yeah, it's, um, comprehensive. The best thing to know about what we do is it's comprehensive, and it's individualized. So it begins with an assessment, which is in the home. And we include of obviously, the person, we want to help the parents, the caregivers, a case manager could be brought in, I work a lot with the case managers, especially if they've been working with them for a while. And we do a up to a two hour assessment in the home. And from that, we come up with our employment plan of what we're going to go forward. First step is to get in the community to get working with somebody to see how they function, once they're out in the public, in a restaurant, you know, in a grocery store, get an idea of what the challenges are, and what what the skills can be, that we call community based instruction. And then from that, we come up with our development plan, job development plan. And then that's the nuts and bolts of getting a job. So it's everything from completing applications, looking online. Getting ready for interviews, a lot of the people need help with that. They need to know how to dress appropriately how to care for themselves, and present themselves for an interview, preparing a resume, of course, as part of it, and then being with them at the interview. And then getting a job. That's our goal is Yeah, getting a job. And then, and that's where that's where change, it's different than typical vocational rehab, because we stay with them after they get a job. And that's where they have on the job coaching, which can be pretty extensive, intensive at first, and then it kind of diminishes and eventually gets to what we call fall long services. But once they're, you know, in a job, they get get the support they need from a job coach, we can bridge the gap between them. In the employer, when you're working with people with autism, and intellectual disabilities, communication is a big, big problem. They don't know how to speak up, they don't understand different things. So job coach can help with that, and then build what we call natural supports in the workplace.

So yeah, when you miss natural supports, I'm guessing the job coaches role isn't maybe just to coach the individual with a disability, but also kind of pitching the employer to and the co workers. Is that? Right?

Yeah. Right. Yeah, because you get, it's getting better. You know, one of the good things I would say is that people are starting to be a little bit more open, and understanding of what autism is, it's not too often, you get somebody who doesn't really know about it, if people have heard about it, they have some familiarity, but, but still, there's a lot of things they don't know about. So you know, as the job coach, he helped with that, and come up with tools that they can use and, you know, things that they can use when you're not there. So, you know, the individual has that to work with. And then the employer, you know, they have your contact information, they can, you know, always call the job coach, when there's an issue that comes up. That don't people that don't have a job coach, and this is the problem we've had is, and especially the older ones that are in their 40s or so, when they you know, they were diagnosed later. And they didn't know, they knew something was wrong. They knew something wasn't quite right. But they they just went ahead like anybody else. And statistics have shown that they've it's been like a revolving door on unemployment. You know, we've got like up to 90% unemployment rate for people on the spectrum. And it's just, all I say is that they got great potential, great abilities to do things. They just need a little help, you know,

right, right. Well, I am just so grateful that you're providing this service in our area, and I'm just Super, super grateful that you live in my area. So maybe as soon as things settle down with COVID, we can get together for that long, much needed cup of coffee. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners today, Terry?

Well, you know, especially for people that are in South Carolina, you know, the plan that I'm putting together is I'd like to see engaged employment, transition into being like a nonprofit. So that as a nonprofit, we could have a board, you know, that would provide more input. And we could raise money so that we can hire more job coaches, because we need we don't need just Terry boulder doing this. And there's, there's just not enough people working as job coaches, and we need to have more, and we need to have training. So yes, you know, the the plan for me, the ideal plan would be to have a nonprofit or driven nonprofit with, you know, an executive director, we can hire more staff and have them trained to work in this area, so that we can have the success that I know we can get in placing people and keeping them in jobs. So, you know, for anybody in South Carolina, who wants to know more about that, you know, I encourage them to get a hold of me. You know, I don't have on my laptop, the links, but I'll send them to you, you know, some of the resources to connect.

Thank you so much, Mr. Botha for taking time to be here today and share all about engaged Employment Solutions and what it is that you're doing in our community.

Okay, glad to be here.

Thank you.

I'm appreciate what you're doing.

Thank you.

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