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Focus on Natural Supports

Occupation: Child Care

Ruth never had a real job in the community before, so even though she expressed that she would like to try to get one, the transition to an integrated work setting could have been very difficult and challenging. She wanted to work in day care, so her Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) counselor contacted the supported employment team at the Arc of Camden County Occupational Training Center. Together the team identified and gave Ruth personal assistance as she applied for a job at Kids Castle Academy. The team worked to prepare her for a successful interview and the appropriate follow-up.

Ruth was offered a position. She was excited but quite anxious about the new job, so the team spent time preparing her for the first day. The team from the Arc of Camden County developed a great relationship with the employer, which enabled them to provide intense supports during the first months on the job. The team also helped Ruth establish natural supports that help her maintain her job. The support Ruth received helped to diminish her anxiety and gave her confidence to be successful with her first "real" job. It's been more than a year now and Ruth's self-confidence has improved and her employer is satisfied with her work performance and delighted to have her as part of their work family.

DVRS partners with community-based agencies that provide intense job coaching to DVRS consumers when they start new jobs. The agencies work with individuals to identify natural supports at work. Natural supports are relationships that develop between coworkers and occur in everyday life. Such supports help people develop a sense of social belonging, dignity and self-esteem. A solid, natural support can make a significant difference in the work experience and success for an individual with a disability.