Employment has continued to be a hot topic throughout the pandemic – whether it be layoffs, furloughs, transitioning to remote work, or lack of opportunity. Though mainstream media tends to exclude persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities from their discussions, they too have been hit especially hard by these same challenges. It seems fitting to start this conversation during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that the 2020 theme for NDEAM would be increasing access and opportunity.

“People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt,” said Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jennifer Sheehy. “Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. NDEAM celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”

That is where the Incompass Employment Services program comes in. Meet Charlie, who started on the path to employment nearly four years ago. Our specialists helped him find his place in the Hannah Duston family, and the rest is history. Charlie’s favorite part of working is kitchen duty where he is tasked with unloading and loading the dishwasher and delivering food within the healthcare facility. He does his job with pride and his supervisor has nothing but high praise for Charlie.

Unfortunately, for those who live in group home settings, increased COVID-19 protocols have created a barrier to employment. In order to ensure the continued safety of not only the individual but their housemates, many are restricted from returning to work. Using guidance from the Department of Developmental Services, human services agencies and families have made the decision to err on the side of caution to reduce exposure. But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Aldrin, our employment specialist, is dedicated to finding suitable employment where individuals can remain safe but fulfilled. Charlie is a shining example of such a possibility.