Meet Micah: Age 31, DD Waiver and VRS

Through collaboration, state and federal funds can be used together in creative ways to help people with disabilities achieve competitive integrated employment. To see an example of this collaboration in action, meet Micah — a 31-year-old with a Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS).

Micah's story

At age 16, Micah expressed interest in finding a job. His school connected him with VRS. Unfortunately, this was long before Minnesota became an Employment First state. Due to Micah's disability, it was determined that he couldn't be employed competitively. Micah's case was closed with VRS. He graduated from high school and started receiving day training and habilitation services inside a center-based day program for adults with disabilities. At the sheltered workshop, Micah earned just $0.37 an hour based on his productivity  which was low due to limitations with using his hands.

In the following years, Micah consistently asked for a job outside the sheltered workshop. However, no action was taken.

Team approach

Micah is tenacious. At age 31, Micah had an informed-choice conversation about employment. He again expressed an interest in work. This time, the county case manager updated Micah's community service and support plan to highlight his competitive, integrated job goal. Micah reapplied for VRS services and was found eligible.

With support from his VRS counselor, Micah connected with a benefits specialist from Disability Benefits 101 to learn how work would impact his benefits. When Micah learned that he would make more money working than on benefits alone, he was even more inspired to find a job.

At the same time, Micah, his VRS counselor and the county case manager agreed that employment exploration — including customized employment strategies through waiver-funded Supported Employment Services (SES)  would help Micah define a job goal.

Success

Once he completed his employment exploration, Micah worked with VRS to secure a job. The job search included visits to local technology companies. During a tour at a large technology retail store, a manager saw Micah's job skills and asked him to return to meet the other managers. After those conversations, Micah was offered a part-time job working 25 hours a week earning $11 an hour. Micah receives four hours a week of SES through the waiver for ongoing job support.

Now that Micah is employed, he no longer attends the sheltered workshop. Micah uses his free time to work toward improving the lives of others with disabilities through the use of creative technology.

See Micah's story shown as a collaborative model.

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