Jobs in kindergartens and elder care for persons with intellectual disabilities
- Konekt vzw
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- First published
“Having a job is important to get into contact with people without disabilities. Otherwise, your world view becomes too narrow.” Jacinth, Project Trainee
In Flanders, adults with a severe intellectual disability are excluded from paid employment. They receive a stipend from the government that is not comparable to a regular salary. Since many persons with intellectual disabilities do not succeed in finding employment in the open labour market, they spend their time in day-care facilities or stay at home. By offering them long-term traineeships, they can work as a supported employee. During this time they do not receive a salary, but they learn a skill that can then be applied in the labour market.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The project began in 2011, when eight adults with intellectual disabilities participated in the training to become (unpaid) assistants in a kindergarten. Together with the trainers, these first participants gave shape to the content and methods of the training. The internships last for 14 weeks, during which each trainee must work at least three hours a week. The trainees are supported by a LetsCo! trainer, who conveys them to their work places; and by a supervisor, who may be a special education teacher or a job coach. The supervisor is present during the first day of the internship and facilitates its start. S/he also organizes intermediate and final evaluations and can monitor the training progress through the trainees’ homework assignments. Further on, a mentor at the work place (kindergartens, nursing homes, etc.) assists the trainees. In addition, a network has been established whereby trainees as well as their relatives and friends can participate in the experience, look for ways to create new work places, and organize transport to and from the traineeships.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Since the launch of this project, there has been a growing number of requests for training programmes in business contexts as well. To meet this demand, a new project for adults who want to work in companies as assistant logistics workers will be started, thus broadening the work field. The first training is scheduled for January 2016. Another aim of the project is to gain formal recognition from the various governmental departments with which the project is currently cooperating. Yet another goal is to develop a model of the project that can be transferred abroad.
THE STORY OF LIEN
“I learned that I am very creative and have a good sense of humour.”
My name is Lien, I am 22 years old. During my last year in a school for special education I was really worried about what I was going to do next. Would I have to stay at home with my parents all day? Would I be on a waiting list to go to an institution? What were my options? I talked to my teacher, Joris, and told him about my dream: to work with children! I think that working with children in a kindergarten is wonderful. That’s when Joris told me about the training as a kindergarten worker that was available from “LetsCo!” This was exactly what I was looking for! The trainers from LetsCo! taught me a lot about toddlers and about life in a kindergarten, and I also learned a lot about myself: my strengths, talents, and limits. I got the opportunity to do an internship in a kindergarten in my own town, with teacher Nathalie. We had lots of fun together! I learned that I am very creative and have a good sense of humour, which is important when you are working with children. After my training, teacher Nathalie asked me to stay and to continue working in the school! She appreciates my help: I support the children in putting on their jackets and shoes, I clean the tables, I distribute the drinks, help to clean the classroom, etc. LetsCo! provides me with a job coach, who gives me support, and my quality of life has improved incredibly. I’m no longer worried about the future. The principal, the teachers, the parents, and the toddlers all appreciate my presence. I am very happy!