Disability and Employment: IRC Employment Specialists

Community EngagementBlog

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This blog is the second installment in a series about disability employment, legislation, innovation, and community partnership. In the first installment, we examined the federal and state movements toward full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. In this installment, we will discuss IRC Employment Specialists and their roles in local disability employment. 

IRC Employment Specialists

IRC is in full support of the Employment First movement and WIOA. These initiatives are focused on creating change that help people with disabilities find meaningful employment. IRC has two Employment Specialists dedicated to expanding training and employment opportunities for our Consumers. Andrew Burdick covers San Bernardino and Beth Crane covers Riverside County.

One of the Employment Specialist’s achievements was establishing a clear path for IRC Consumers (ages 24 and younger) who want to work. When an IRC Consumer decides they would like to enter the workforce they will meet with the Department of Rehab (DOR) to assess readiness for Competitive Integrated Employment. If they are ready they will then be referred to an IRC Service Provider who will work with them to develop employment opportunities. If they are not quite ready they can be referred to an IRC Service Provider who can provide employment training.

Our Employment Specialists have also made great strides in educating and networking with local communities. Through their attendance at community events, presentations to employers, and networking with school districts and local government they are changing the way the Inland Empire views disability employment. They are advocating for employment to be an ongoing discussion throughout the Consumer’s high school years. Specifically, that it be included in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process.  They present to employers the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities through the Paid Internship Program as well as competitive employment.

A Chance Meeting

Our Employment Specialists can often be found on the road to spreading the word about IRC Consumers, employment opportunities, and programs. Here is an example of why that is so important! While attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Temecula, Employment Specialist Beth Crane was given 30-seconds to introduce herself. She had to give her name and some brief information about her position with the IRC. Apparently, she has mastered the elevator pitch! After the meeting, a business owner named Diane Strand wanted to find out more about IRC Consumers and employment options!

A Powerhouse Partnership

What started as a chance meeting has turned into a dynamic team. Beth and Diane instantly clicked and shared ideas about community, networking, and job development. At their first meeting, Beth suggested IRC’s Paid Internship as a way of introducing an IRC Consumer into Diane’s business. Diane was game. She’ll be the first one to tell you she is “in the business of making dreams come true.” That she is certainly doing.

Diane Strand is the majority owner and President at JDS Studios in Temecula. JDS Studios is an award-winning video production company specializing in news production, commercials, and marketing pieces. In addition to video production, Diane and her team teach acting in their Actors Studio. They also run the non-profit JDS Academy.

Innovation in Disability Employment

Across the board, Diane’s business is rooted in creativity. This creativity, when combined with Diane’s open mind and Beth’s unique approach to job development is yielding amazing results! Recently JDS has launched a program for IRC Consumers to receive job training in video and media production. The program will teach attendees the technical skills of media production. But it is a dual-learning environment. Attendees will also learn the basics of the working world. Skills like scheduling, collaboration, organization, meeting deadlines and problem-solving will be a major focus. Businesses like JDS are helping to change what it means to train and employ people with disabilities. And it all started with an intern.

Check back next week for our 3rd installment all about JDS intern Connor Winters.


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Community Engagement

Inland Regional Center's Community Engagement Unit can be reached at [email protected]

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