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Delta youth with developmental disabilities sought for employment research project

Delta Community Living Society looking for students 16-19 years old to take part in summer program
Students and peer mentors with Delta Community Living Society’s Leading Employment and Achieving Possibilities (LEAP) program participate in a team problem solving exercise in June of 2023. (Delta Community Living Society/submitted photo)

Delta Community Living Society is looking for local teens to take part in a summer research project aimed at helping youth with developmental disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder gain employment opportunities after high school.

DCLS, a non-profit community-based organization that provides support to people with developmental disabilities and their families, is partnering with researchers from the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship (CIIC) at the University of British Columbia for “IMPACT 2.0,” a follow-up to the original three-year “IMPACT” pilot supporting early interventions and improve employment outcomes for 16- to 19-year-olds preparing to transition from secondary school to post-secondary studies and/or join the workforce.

The project page on the DCLS website notes the employment rate among youth with developmental disabilities is “extremely low,” and that inadequate transition planning and supports are often cited as a contributing factor.

CIIC’s report on the first IMPACT cohort notes that as of March 31, 2019, just over 24 per cent of individuals supported by Community Living BC reported some employment earnings, with 82 per cent of these reporting earnings below $10,000 a year.

“DCLS is working to move the dial on these low employment rates here in our community with our IMPACT project,” DCLS employment services manager Tammy McEvoy said in a press release.

Over the project’s first three years (2020-2022), 250 youth from eight community living organizations in B.C. participated in various programs aimed at helping participants build skills and experience. Researchers followed the youths’ progress to measure the effectiveness of those programs and develop evidence-based best practices to improve employment outcomes.

A post on the Inclusion BC website notes close to 50 per cent of youth who participated in the pilot gained paid employment, and the project’s outcomes were so promising that it was funded for another three years.

For IMPACT 2.0, strategies developed from first phase of the project will be tested by five participating organizations, while another five organizations continue using their current approaches as a control in order to compare and learn which methods work best.

As one of the 10 groups participating in IMPACT 2.0, DLCS is currently recruiting youth from Delta to take part in the project, which kicks off its fifth year in June.

“DCLS has offered a youth employment program each summer since 2014. With the IMPACT research project, we have proven that early interventions really make a difference in the lives of the participants,” DCLS CEO Anita Sihota said in a press release.

“Research in workplaces with people with developmental disabilities has found that, as employees, people with diverse abilities are dependable, have high productivity and great attendance records. The businesses that hire people with developmental disabilities enjoy lower employee turnover and higher job satisfaction among all employees,” added McEvoy.

“We are really excited about the kick-off of this project,” Sihota continues. “The research has supported over 100 students each year, and has been made possible because of a great partnership with other agencies across the province and through financial support from the Province of B.C. and Government of Canada.”

Those looking to participate in the project either as a student, peer mentor or employer is asked to contact McEvoy at or 604-946.9655.

The deadline to apply to participate in this year’s project as a student is Friday, May 17.

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James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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