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Today I write to share my Letter to the Editor from last week’s New York Times, referencing the Transitions to Work program we developed here in Boston with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Jewish Vocational Services. I wrote it in response to a December 25th Times column, “The Power of a Mom’s Love.”
Nothing can match the power of a mother’s love, but we can learn from Laurie Cameron’s tireless quest to find the best educational program for her son. Just as his school needed to be the right match for his unique needs and abilities, we are learning that vocational programs need to customize their job placements based on both the exact abilities of the employee as well as the exact needs of the employer. These latter concerns– the needs of the employer– are often neglected in the big matching game that many vocational agencies are trying to figure out how to get right.
“Link the Disabled to the Job,” New York Times, January 3, 2013
To the Editor:
“The Power of a Mom’s Love,” by Joe Nocera (column, Dec. 25), highlights the challenges in creating the most appropriate supports for people with disabilities, including meaningful job training and placement. Too often, job training for people with disabilities is far too rudimentary and does not take into account what a person with disabilities can bring to an organization.
Rather than providing general job training in the hopes that a vacant position will appear, the equation should be flipped and employers should tell training agencies what skills they are seeking, so that specialized training can qualify the person with a disability for the job.
That is what our foundation has tried to do, in partnership with other Jewish service organizations in Boston, in a program called Transitions to Work. The early results are showing success.
Rehovot, Israel, Dec. 26, 2012
The writer is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation.