It is the goal of UCF Transition and Adulthood Programs to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities connect with gainful and meaningful employment opportunities as well as social/recreational opportunities in the community. We approach this objective from two angles: by educating and training businesses to successfully employee neurodiverse individuals, and by preparing and practicing with our job seekers to help them develop employable skills. Activities include:
The Unicorn Village Academy is a unique, specialized middle/high school designed with the necessary, built-in supports for students unable to succeed in a typical school setting. Students with neurodiversities receive individualized academic support, vocational training, life skill development and community integration. The focus of Unicorn Village Academy is on the “whole student” encouraging independence, self-advocacy, and preparation for life. Unicorn Village Academy offers a uniquely diverse learning experience in a climate of mutual caring, respect and responsibility to assist students in developing skills toward reaching their future goals. UCF maintains a fund to provide scholarships to ensure that finances are not a barrier to enrollment.
The unemployment rate for youth with disabilities is 80%, despite their ability and willingness to work. Through UCF’s Pre-Employment Internship Program, we have already helped 9 interns find meaningful employment. Those participating are students (age 17-24) graduating from local South Florida schools, who are interested in increasing independence, confidence and self-esteem, while learning competitive, transferable and marketable job skills.
The Unicorn Job Club is a networking and employment strategy group for young adults with disabilities. The club provides support opportunities for participants to develop employment success strategies. Meetings will have time set for free flow discussion on current employment situations and problem solving. Depending on the needs of participants special guests may include Career Source staff, Vocational Rehabilitation staff, and business owners to discuss employment success strategies. Additionally, meetings will also include specific topic discussions and skill development as needed on topics such as, identification of career preference, identifying connections and networking, resume’ refinement, interview skills, self-advocacy, developing friendships/social skills at work, and maintaining employment.
Employment First is a national initiative that prioritizes employment in the general workforce as the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. In this effort, UCF works with businesses to develop industry-specific tools and accommodations that will help all employees be more successful in executing tasks, such as posting visual instructions, providing specialized equipment or adjusting work responsibilities or schedules. UCF also works closely with leadership staff to educate them about potential and expectations and provides coaching and support to ensure the best chance of success for employees with neurodiversity.