Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not impressed. Decisions must be made.

Well, today was the day we went to check out Irina's new potential place of employment.  She is in a program here that helps young adults find jobs.  This is through the school system w/ a combination of vocational rehabilitation.  Now, I'll be honest, I had my reservations going into all this just based on talking on the phone with the lady.  Any time, any time, you mention the word "entitlement" to me, it sends chills up my spine. My children are not to be taught they are "entitled" to anything.  Period.  They are to earn it.  So, starting off that way really rubbed me the wrong way from the get go.  However, I decided I should keep an open mind.  After all, this may be where my daughter ends up for a few years. 

Went to the facility.  No roads marked btw.  Made it rather difficult to find even w/ mapquest.  How can you turn down a certain street if there are no signs?  We were greeted not too long after arriving.  I know they didn't know what to think that I had brought the 6 other kids with us but I told her over the phone I homeschooled so I assumed they would have figured that I can't leave the kids at home alone.  We asked a lot of questions.  I don't think they have had parents ask this many questions before.  I really don't.  We asked for a copy of the contract that Irina would be signing.  They said we can come another day and sign it right there.  We said no, we want to be able to read the contract over before she signs it.  The lady was NOT happy about that.  This right there causes Warren and I grave concerns about their business practices.  Since we were getting nowhere fast with that one, we moved on. 

We asked about who funds them.  Ahh, another question that apparently hits a nerve and gets someone beating around the bush.  She said it comes from various places including some grants and such.  Next question was about her actually working there.  When?  She said well, she can come after lunch since students are entitled to free lunch at school.  Ooh, nails on the chalkboard for me again w/ that word.  URGHH!!!  My kids bring their lunches.  We budget like crazy to be able to do that.  Because of the whole "free lunch" thing, she wants Irina to wait till after noon to go there.  Okay,that's just stupid.  First off, you have a person willing to work.  At any time.  Secondly, she's available at 10am, after her classes are over.  So, if she doesn't have to go till after noon, she has almost 2 hours to "kill time."  This is not my idea of efficiency nor does it teach my soon to be adult child how to be efficient w/ time.  

Next question from us was one that also probably hit a nerve.  Let me back up first to something I did not say off the bat in this post. I used to be a restaurant manager.  I used to hire people from the county.  They were people w/ developmental disabilities.  I paid them minimum wage just like every other single employee there.  So, not like I don't know how this is supposed to work.  They told me she would get paid by the piece.  Umm, excuse me?  By the piece.  See, they assemble products.  Depending upon how many products you make, depends upon what you get paid.  However, not true piece pay as even if you did an exceptional job & cranked them out (which I KNOW for a fact Irina would do), you can only get paid maximum minimum wage.  Warren went to see what they were doing.  At a table putting 3 or 4 things in holes of another part.  Very simplistic, very mundane and very, very below her capabilities.  Lady also commented to Irina she tells everyone not to worry about the pay she would get b/c you're here to learn.  Really?  Really?  Warren said there are NOT enough people there for that place to be self-sustaining.  In other words, money has got to be coming from somewhere. 

There is so much more to this but I really am still boiling to write it all out.  We are not comfortable at all sending our daughter to this facility.  My daughter had a job coach last year.  She got fired for not doing her job.  Actually, she was on the phone literally all the time, ignoring the kids.  So, my confidence in this place was shaken last year already due to that incident.  I know maybe it is my not wanting to admit she needs this experience.  It's just I think there may be better opportunities out there that are better suited to her.  There are lots of little things that have happened last year that does not have me too keen on starting here.  What makes it worse is Irina has stated over and over she hates this place.  They came last year for a bit but never worked in the capacity she'd be working in.  I'm the one for the past two weeks that has kept telling her to keep an open mind, it's experience, you'll gain something, give it a chance, etc.  Now, I'm the one saying it's not my cup of tea.  We have to make some very big decisions in the next few days.  I have 3 IEP meetings to attend on Tuesday.  Hers being one of them.  I know, what a way to spend Valentine's Day.  Got to love it.  Just want to do what is right but in this moment, I don't exactly know what that is for her.  Maybe tomorrow I'll have a different perspective.  But when it's your child, you want them to reach their fullest potential.  I feel this would be severely limiting that and not giving her the opportunities she needs in life.  Not sure though.  I"m going to be speaking to another parent this evening whose children have been through this process.  Maybe they'll shed some light on the situation.  I would love to hear from those who have been through a program like this and how it ran or how your child reacted to it.  Is this all normal? 


  1. Yikes! That doesn't sound right. Ok, I know you have said that she is your OCD cleaner....what about seeing if there is a local hotel that she could work on cleaning rooms or something like that? Could she do some kind of work at the school in those 2 hours she has to wait around?

  2. First, I'd like to say that you are HER mother, and you know what your daughter is capable of. If your instinct is telling you that "place" is not for Irina, then it isn't. I was very fortunate that I had a mom who was my advocate and fought the system to make sure I got the education I deserved despite being deaf. Irina is very fortunate to have you as her mother!!

    That being said, have you talked to a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor? If I recall correctly, they will place her according to her abilities and I agree with Katherine that perhaps she could maybe clean rooms. Typically the workers work in pairs so it's not like Irina would be working alone. I also just found this out yesterday at bible study (my friend is a voc rehab counselor) that federal jobs will hire disabled people as a priority over others.

    Only you know what Irina is capable of, and it's definitely not that place. You rock!! :)

  3. That definitely sounds suspicious! If the organization is a non-profit you may be able to find information on their funding through their 990 tax form