Creating efficiencies through Supported Employment

King County’s Supported Employment Program matches job seekers with developmental disabilities to available jobs by identifying efficiencies and unmet needs throughout King County departments. The program allows each department to review its standard work practices utilizing Lean principles. A job coach is also available to help supported employees thrive in the workplace.

Christina Davidson, Supported Employment Program Manager shares how meaningful this can be in several ways.

“When creating opportunities to be more inclusive with our hiring we are also creating efficiencies and cost savings in departments,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to get to hire more inclusively and have it also help your bottom line.”

Pictured: Jaren Howard at his work station.

One of these new hires is Jaren Howard, who recently started working in the Department of Assessments (DOA) in the Residential Appraisals Section. The Residential Appraiser Section determine the true and fair market value of real property in accordance with Federal, State and local regulations. In order to complete this body of work, there are many permits, maps, and data that need to be gathered to complete the appraisal

Process. Jaren was brought on board to help gather and request information so that the appraisers had the information they needed when they went out into the field to complete appraisals.

“Jaren has exceeded my expectations,” said Jeff Darrow, Division Director of Residential Assessments. “He has helped increase accuracy and saved us weeks of time waiting for permits and other information to complete appraisals.”

Jaren’s supervisor, Jurgen Ramil, Senior Appraiser, also agrees.

“Jaren has been a good addition and team member. He helps us think outside of the box to get work done,” said Jurgen. “Jaren has found errors in the system that no one else has found. He’s a great second pair of eyes on data.”

Jaren takes satisfaction in his work, and the opportunity it has provided him to become independent. Helping employees grow and share their skill sets with one another is an important part of the Supported Employment Program.

“I like that our office is really easy to navigate, the tasks are easy to understand and complete. I also like that I live in the same city as where I work,” Jaren said. “I like that everyone is so nice and helpful. We sometimes have bouts of trivia.”

Each supported employee is connected with a job coach. Jaren’s coach helped onboard him at the DOA with the initial training, get accustomed to the job by meeting his coworkers, and learn the job routine and environment. She also supported him as he learned new tasks. This role is essential to the success of each supported employee, as is adapting workplaces to accommodate each person’s needs.

“My favorite part about my job is seeing how workplaces change as supported employees are included in all aspects of the workplace,” said Christina. “In the Residential Appraisals group, they do weekly trivia. They moved the time of the team building activity so that Jaren could participate and they added math oriented questions to highlight his strengths.”

Pictured: Paul Ryerson in front of the DAJD HR Tier Board.

Another supported employee is Paul Ryerson, who recently started at the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) as a Human Resources Office Assistant. Paul was hired to support this workgroup with personnel filing, medical filing, scanning, creating personnel files, and other administrative support.

Peter Hu, the DAJD Human Resources Manager and Paul’s supervisor, is grateful Paul joined his team.

“Paul has brought immense benefit to the DAJD human resources team. Paul quickly and efficiently picked up the creation of employee personnel files and the filing of documents within the files,” he said. “These were tasks that would usually be last on the list of priorities for the HR staff in their daily work. We had a backlog of over 500 documents that needed to be sorted and filed in an employee’s personnel file.”

Peter shares that after Paul caught up on the backlog of filing for the office, he then began to support other staff with items like the creation of interview binders, fulfilling public records requests of documents, and, when time permits, has expanded to offer his filing and clerical services to the DAJD Payroll team as well.

Paul is very proud of the work he completes for DAJD.

“I am in a much better mood. I believe that I am contributing to the HR operations at DAJD,” Paul said. “I like this job because it lets me go at my own pace. Not too fast or too slow. My co-workers are friendly and easy to talk to. I am challenged, but not beyond my capability.”

The program is doubly effective as it meets line of business needs, but does so in a way that provides real value to each supported employee. Departments within King County who participate in the program benefit from a dedicated employee who cares about their work.

Jurgen emphasizes this by sharing his support for the program.

“Don’t limit the possibilities of what can be done. I would absolutely recommend hiring through the supported Employment Program.”

Christina is glad to see the program is expanding, and continues to provide opportunities for employees and reliable work solutions for King County workplaces.

“The Supported Employment Program continues to grow. We are now have 55 supported employees within King County,” said Christina. “Big thank you to the leadership in Department of Public Defense, Elections, and other departments for utilizing the Supported Employment Program to fill their business needs.”

To learn more, visit the Supported Employment Program website, or contact Program Manager Christina Davidson at Christina.Davidson@kingcounty.gov to find out how to take advantage of this program.

To support the Department of Public Defense with a clothing donation, contact Terry Howard at Terry.Howard@kingcounty.gov.