Edison Career Center
Edison Career Center offers one-of-a-kind programming for 18-26 year old adults who currently receive special education services and have significant social, emotional, and/or behavioral barriers to independent living, gainful employment, community/civic engagement, and emotional well-being (as outlined in their Individual Education Plans) that are working towards a diploma or certificate of completion. They may have struggled greatly in general education or other special education environments academically and socially and require support as they transition into adulthood.
These barriers would be significant enough where such participants would be at an economic, emotional, and social disadvantage compared to similar aged peers without explicit programming and instruction outlined in the program. However, these are individuals who, with a few years of such programming, should be able to find and maintain gainful employment, independent living, personal wellness, and meaningful social/community engagement.
What separates this particular program from other transition-focused programs in the state is that there is explicit programming to focus on the social, emotional, and overall personal wellness needs. This comes in the form of specific Social Emotional Learning instruction utilizing the core competencies outlined in CASEL (Yale’s “Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning”). These core competencies include “self-awareness,” “self-management,” “social-awareness,” “relationships,” and “decision making.” Understanding that the primary barriers for our participant population fall within the social/emotional areas, it is crucial that these areas are addressed in conjunction with workplace readiness skills.
ECC has developed a unique positive behavioral Intervention and Supports plan for the participants. At ECC we “WORK for Success”. WORK stands for Willing, On task, Responsible and Kind. These expectations are taught and practiced with the participant to create a positive work environment to support their emotional needs and prepare them for adult life. Along with social/emotional skills, the ECC offers programming and instruction on daily living skills, such as cooking, budgeting and meal planning, laundry, personal care and physical wellness, and household upkeep, among others.
Regarding workplace readiness, we currently have 3-4 in-house jobs within the Edison building. These include:
- a twice a week coffee delivery service
- a bi-monthly staff breakfast delivery service
- office task requests (making copies, putting together packets, scanning and emailing documents, etc.)
- Managing the school store for the K-12 wing of the building (managing, organizing stock, purchasing inventory, running the register, and customer service/assistance)
Outside of the building, participants will have opportunities to engage with the community, at minimum once a week, often utilizing the SMART Bus as well as ride-sharing apps. These experiences have included and will include:
- Job-shadowing experiences through local businesses
- Partnering with local businesses and organizations to participate in work-based learning internships and opportunities
- Participating in job-fairs and career expos
- Touring local businesses
- Guest speakers from local businesses
- Exploring community educational opportunities
- Dining out
- Developing relationships and accessing support through local law enforcement agencies
- Cultural enrichment (DIA and other museums in the area, etc.)
- Accessing local public libraries
- Accessing community mental health networks
- Utilizing local grocery stores for cooking supply purchases and purchases for in-house business inventory
- Accessing local gyms and wellness centers
These skills and experiences are tailored as specifically as possible to the individual participant, through monthly Person-Centered Planning meetings. These meetings give the participants an opportunity to discuss positives and strengths over the course of the month, as well as areas of concern/need, as well as possible supports needed to overcome barriers in the areas aforementioned.
The level of support for our participants by our staff provides a safety net for them as they enter the workforce. There is a dedicated full-time social worker (Wellness Coach) they have access to everyday. The facilitator (participant supervisor) to lend support in the areas of instruction and daily living, two para-educators (managers) and a transition coordinator to assist in planning and community connections.