Below is the second entry in our blog series on how Triangle is modifying programs for individuals with disabilities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to continue meeting our mission and have established Triangle, Inc.’s Fund for Ability that will help guarantee the continuation of our services now and into the future.
Triangle, Inc. offers a range of services and programs that provide greater opportunities for employment, empowerment, independence, and community inclusion for people with disabilities. Through our Workforce Development program, both youth and adults have access to assessments, job placement, and ongoing employment supports. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Governor Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts, Triangle’s Workforce Development team quickly adapted so they could continue providing services for their program participants. They are now offering all of their services virtually, including job support, job coaching, interview skills, check-ins, pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS), staff meetings, and staff trainings.
As soon as it became clear that Triangle’s in-person programming would be suspended, Workforce Development staff members immediately secured Zoom accounts and gathered program participants’ folders. They let individuals that they are working with know that they would be in daily contact with them, and put systems in place, including a virtual code of conduct, assigned workloads, working schedules, and daily and weekly task lists. The stay-at-home order was issued while Workforce Development was in the middle of a paraprofessional training program. Not wanting to cancel the program, Triangle quickly pivoted the cohort to an online model and will be hosting a virtual graduation through Zoom to celebrate the students’ success. The team is offering Pre-ETS to high school students throughout the eastern Massachusetts twice a week, ensuring that their recent progress is not interrupted.
In these unprecedented times, Janice Philpot, Director of Workforce Development at Triangle, understood the need to remain connected to each other and ensure that supports remain available, especially for high school students enrolled in Triangle’s programming. While schools are closed, it is crucial that young people have a virtual place to learn and connect with their friends and classmates. These students are used to spending their days together at school, and this abrupt change to their daily routine could cause even greater anxiety or behavior issues. Virtual learning fills this gap and provides a way to connect with others, while maintaining physical distance.
Students in Workforce Development’s programs currently feel supported and like the change. They feel it is important to be flexible right now because of the constantly changing environment, and they appreciate having a place where they can get clear information about COVID-19 and any changes in their jobs.