2016 Employment First Summit  Trailblazing:  Charting Our Employment Path

Engaging Culturally-diverse Families to Ensure Access to Employment Supports and Services
Judith Gross, Ph.D.

For this presentation, we will discuss the findings from bilingual interviews with 12 Hispanic families with young adults with mild to severe disabilities ranging in age from 14-28 years. Eight of the families had attended our training, Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT), and four had not. Since the training is designed to increase expectations and knowledge, we conducted interviews with both families who had attended FEAT and those who had not. We interviewed families at three points in time – six months apart. Findings indicated that most families believed in the value of employment for their young adults with disabilities and desired for their son or daughter to find the right fit for their skills and interests. Many parents expressed the desire that their children have better jobs than they did. However, families also shared that they face numerous barriers to their son or daughter attaining employment (e.g., communication, lack of school support, citizenship status, lack of knowledge of and access to services). For this presentation, we will describe the FEAT training, discuss the barriers identified by the families we interviewed, and share strategies professionals can use to ensure all families have equal access to needed supports and services.

Judith Gross, Ph.D., is the Principal Investigator for the 2013 NIDRR-FI award “Assessing Family Employment Awareness Training” and was the project coordinator and co-developer of FEAT and the pilot and follow-up studies in Kansas in 2010-2012. She is also an assistant research professor at the Beach Center on Disability working on Family and Community Engagement Technical Assistance team for the Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Center. Dr. Gross has worked in the disability field for over 20 years in the roles of researcher, consultant, certified special education teacher, and in-home and in-school behavioral skills therapist for individuals with autism.