Assessing the Needs of Agency Stakeholders With Regards to the Development of a Community Employment Initiative
Background: In light of the current directives of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) towards providing more inclusive employment opportunities and closure of sheltered workshops, service providers are working to shift their employment services to be more community-based. This study investigated the needs of clients in one community agency, their caregivers, agency staff and administration, regarding the development of a community-based employment program for service users with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Methods: This qualitative case study used a needs assessment framework based on the model developed by Witkin and Altschuld (1995). Prior the start of the data collection, a pre-assessment was conducted which provided the background and premise for the current assessment. The full needs assessment included four participant groups: agency clients, caregivers, day program staff and senior management. Clients and their caregivers participated in individual, semi structured interviews. Day program staff and senior management participated in separate focus groups. Results/Discussion: This evaluation determined that all stakeholders would like community-based employment services to be offered by the agency, and clients expressed an interest in supported employment services, vocational services and a social enterprise. The results of this assessment also highlight factors that impact stakeholders’ motives for pursuing community based employment services, and the organizational and structural barriers that hinder the agency’s development of such services. Due to the diversity in the clientele, there was ambivalence amongst stakeholders about which type of employment program will best suit service users and the organization overall.
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