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PennWorks Moves Students Closer to Integrated Competitive EmploymentTen Learners Participate in Job Exploration Phase of Pilot

York, PA – (November 15, 2018) – The PennWorks Certificated Integrated Competitive Employment Readiness Initiative for youth and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities began a significant stage of its pilot. Ten student learners from Central York High School are engaged in volunteer job exploration experiences at SpiriTrust Lutheran Assisted Living along with career preparation classroom education. Central York has an additional ten students who are preparing to enter the PennWorks program in the spring. An additional eighteen student learners from the Spring Grove Area school district will embark on their job-shadowing experiences later in the school year.

“PennWorks is an exciting, innovative approach in providing scaffolding and supports to students and adults who are differently abled as they begin to navigate the real world,” explains Dr. Michelle Ludwig, Special Education Supervisor at the Spring Grove Area School District. “By joining explicit instruction, workplace visits, and the ability to obtain certifications and competencies, PennWorks is lighting the pathway to integrated, competitive employment for students and adults by supporting them in becoming active, core members of our communities in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Launched by PennCares Support Services earlier this year, PennWorks is delivering training, job exploration, certification and employment readiness supports in collaboration with The York County Economic Alliance (YCEA), Central York School District, Spring Grove Area School District, Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12, The Center for Independent Living Opportunities, and consultancy XtraGlobex, Inc. This initiative brings together partners from the business, education and human services sectors to create a pathway for individuals with disabilities to gain and maintain competitive and integrated employment with certification that is portable.

“I’m very excited to see the PennWorks program develop,” says Central York educator Sarah Bolger. “I truly believe this curriculum is essential to helping students of all abilities become prepared to enter their post-secondary life with confidence. It’s especially practical in that it can be customized to individual learner needs. “

PennWorks is funded by PennCares Support Services with the objective of preparing youth and adults with disabilities to work in an integrated competitive setting, with the same career potential, earning power, and opportunities to make choices in their employment.

“The initiative brings together development partners with specialized experience and expertise, to train and issue certificates recognized by national industry associations,” PennCares Executive Director Deborah Allen explains. “At this time, certificates include Custodial Technician, Customer Service, and Food Service, with more in development.”

More details about PennCares’ PennWorks program can be found at www.pennworks.org.

PennWorks delivers its training through the schools for younger learners, and through the Center for Independent Living for adults. The YCEA links to employers in the area assuring input and leadership. During its initial 15-month pilot, PennWorks is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Education, and the Department of Human Services to refine the program.

PennCares has grown from a small local chapter of United Cerebral Palsy in 1962 to a regional leader for resources, advocacy and services for people with a broad range of intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities and their families throughout south central Pennsylvania. PennCares has offices in Hanover, York and Chambersburg, PA and serves over 500 individuals and families in York, Adams, Franklin, Fulton, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. For more information, visit www.penncares.org.

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