Service Redesign Update

April 9, 2018

By Armando Camacho, President & CEO

Today’s Service Redesign success story is Yohan, who joined Opportunity Partners in 2009. Over the years, Yohan gained experience working on the Koch Campus production floor and at numerous Supported Employment Teams (SETs). In November, Yohan landed his first independent job, cleaning and refurbishing wheelchairs and other equipment at Transtech in Hopkins. He loves his job and says OP taught him to stay focused, get along with co-workers, complete jobs and check his work. Congratulations to Yohan, representing one of 41 competitive, integrated job placements from our Day Service programs in 2017!

Shaping our future
At its core, Service Redesign is an ongoing process of understanding our stakeholders – people we serve, families, funders, policymakers, employers and our staff – and building services that are responsive to changing needs and expectations in the sector. As Opportunity Partners celebrates 65 years this year, continuing to understand our stakeholders and translate that into the services we offer is our main focus. Although these are times of some uncertainty, I believe our strong history of innovation and our supportive community will help guide us toward a successful future.

Workgroups underway & outreach expansion
Here at Opportunity Partners, we have formed a number of internal workgroups to share ideas, explore pilot projects, and discover new models of services that will meet the needs of the people we serve today and those we hope to serve. We also have Opportunity Partners representatives serving on key disability sector committees, both statewide and in the Metro. Additionally, we have a new position at OP called Outreach Lead. Casey Budke, previously our Assistant Manager of Brain Injury Services, will serve in this role, connecting OP with individuals, families, social workers, advocacy groups, and school districts to spread the word about OP while listening to your feedback to help us learn how we can meet the needs of people with disabilities now and in the years to come.

We are developing a new questionnaire we will be launching with persons served and families to help us understand your service needs today and what you hope for in the future. We are enlisting the support of staff closest to the individuals to conduct the interviews as we get this project underway. If you would like to be interviewed about your service needs, please contact or 952-930-4208.

Employment updates
Employment opportunities for the people we serve remains a focus of Service Redesign. Here are a few updates pertaining to Supported Employment Teams (SETs) and the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (W.I.O.A.)

SETs – You have learned from past communications that we are shifting our SET model to become pathways to competitive, integrated employment instead of a final destination whenever possible. We have many openings at new and existing SET sites; however, at times we cannot fill these openings. You can help by encouraging individuals to consider all openings. They benefit by having the support of an onsite job coach and gaining valuable work experience for their resume. Plus, exploring different jobs can help people find the type of work they enjoy and help them get on a path toward many new career opportunities! Individuals can contact their OP staff member to find out about SET openings.

W.I.O.A. – As you likely know, W.I.O.A. involves federal rules that require people we serve who work and earn according to their productivity to complete annual career counseling. We are now well into year two of W.I.O.A. and about one-fourth of persons served are indicating they are interested in pursuing competitive, integrated employment – this is on track with our data from year one. Thank you to all individuals and families who have participated in these meetings – we know it is a lot and everyone is busy. For people who are interested in competitive employment, we are working to get them into employment services as soon as possible.

Advocacy matters – We continue to be very involved at the State Capitol, rallying for legislation supporting a stronger and more stable system for people with disabilities and the direct care staff who support them. I urge families to get involved through the Minnesota Family & Advocates Coalition (MnFAC) here.