The money, which the organization will receive over a two-year-period, will fund the Transition — Community Connections project, meant to help adults with developmental disabilities transition away from a sheltered workshop toward individualized plans for working and volunteering in the community.
“The intention of it is to get us to the other side of the sheltered workshop,” said Community Living executive director Laura Hanley.
Community Living’s project is one of 38 projects receiving support through the second phase of Ontario’s Employment and Modernization Fund, meant to promote greater inclusion and independence for people with developmental disabilities.
“We have already begun to see the progress that the Employment and Modernization funding has had on agencies being able to deliver programs that are giving individuals with developmental disabilities greater opportunities for employment,” Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek said in a news release announcing the funding.
For years, Community Living has had a supportive employment program that provides job coaching for people with intellectual disabilities to work in the community, said Hanley. “This funding is going to help us expand that further,” she said.
It will also allow the agency to do more work in rural areas, she said.
“We’re excited, in that it gives us the opportunity to ensure that we’re moving in a productive direction,” Hanley said.
As part of the phase-out of sheltered workshops, Community Living’s ARC Industries — standing for Adult Rehabilitative Centre — is evolving, she said.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Hanley.
With funding from the first phase of the Employment and Modernization Fund, the organization has been working with the people it serves and their families on an individual basis to find employment in the community for those who want it. At the same time, it is continuing to offer in-house activities.
Those activities include everything from job skills programs to health and wellness, to life skills, to leisure activities, Hanley said.
“The building here on Royal Road, it has a ton of things going on in it,” she said.
The sheltered workshop may be disappearing, but there will be other things to replace it, she said.
“It’s all about choices,” said Hanley.