From left to right: Michelle Bell, Craig Valone, Mark Hassemer, and Jessica Mahon.

ACT Executive Director Mark Hassemer, Directors Jessica Mahon and Craig Valone and Assistant Director Michelle Bell presented at the 2017 APSE-MO Summit, “Focusing on Transformation.”

Their session on Day Two of the conference, “The Road to Change: A Transformation Story in Missouri,” aligns perfectly with the conference theme. It featured the changes the programs have made.

APSE-MO is the Missouri chapter of APSE, the Association of People Supporting Employment First. APSE is a national organization committed to improving and expanding integrated employment opportunities, services, and outcomes for people experiencing disabilities.

Its mission is to advance employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities through advocacy and education.

Both Career Services’ and Day Program’s changes have been highlighted in this newsletter recently.

Due to a waiver definition, ACT had to eliminate its recycling program, ACT Works. Now employment services, in what is now known as Career Services, are offered primarily in community locations, with the goal of individuals obtaining competitive, integrated employment.

Day Program is no longer limited to the hours of 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday. Services have been expanded to include evenings (for individuals living in their natural homes) and weekends, as the schedule allows (https://actservices.org/day-program-expands-its-hours).

A Certified Nursing Assistant has also been added to the roster to allow people who need additional medical attention to enjoy the community (https://actservices.org/day-program-offers-new-service-and-new-support).

A more rounded, personalized level of care is one result of these changes.

“The evolution was due to a waiver change, but it aligned with our mission,” Bell says. “We took the opportunity to grow our programs to provide a meaningful day for the people we serve.”

Suzan Schuetz and Melanie Jordan

Suzan Schuetz, ACT Career Services Program Supervisor, was also asked to co-present. Her topic, “Natural Supports and Social Inclusion in the Workplace,” was given with Melanie Jordan, University of Massachusetts, The Institute for Community Inclusion. The presentation addressed how mentors, supervisors and coworkers are instrumental in the transition to employment for supported employees.

Both presentations demonstrate ACT’s commitment to continuous improvement, always seeking to improve the service we provide and be more effective in accomplishing our mission. Communicating these experiences and best practices with our professional colleagues helps spread the word and work so that other persons with disabilities benefit, even those beyond our community.