County offers pathway for people with developmental disabilities to find employment

'Bridge to Success' program now open to residents

Contra Costa County's "Bridge to Success" pilot program is a county initiative to help people with developmental or intellectual disabilities compete for regular county jobs at regular salaries, and the county wants residents to know that opportunities are available.

Open now, the "Bridge to Success" program presents an alternative hiring process for residents who may need assistance getting jobs but still have the ability to perform work, and connecting them with agencies in need of employees throughout the county.

“The application process for government jobs can be challenging and may prevent eligible candidates with developmental disability from getting jobs, even when they can do the work,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who spearheaded the program’s creation. “This contributes to the high unemployment rates for this population.”

“I’m excited that Contra Costa County is taking a step to bridge this gap. All people deserve the right to have opportunities for fair wage jobs,” he added.

The Contra Costa County’s Human Resources Department has identified a series of positions that would be good matches for applicants to the program, such as beginning clerical and service aide positions in the county Health and Library departments.

When applicants identify a job they are interested in, they will need to email an online application -- as well as a certificate of disability from the California Department of Rehabilitation -- to the designated program coordinator associated with the position.

Initiated last year as a two-year pilot program, "Bridge to Success" program employees engage in the same work as their non-disabled peers and are eligible for job coaching through the Department of Rehabilitation or local nonprofits like Futures Explored and Contra Costa ARC.

“Historically, people with developmental disabilities are often lumped together as unemployable, but experience has taught us that this is very far from the truth,” said Heather Prince, a job coach with Futures Explored -- a local nonprofit that provides employment services support. “It’s not just about having a job. It’s about feeling that they’re making a contribution to their community and are part of something important.”

County officials added that "Bridge to Success" will be used to help adjust hiring processes throughout Contra Costa, ensuring increased employment opportunities for all residents.

To learn more about available positions offered through the "Bridge to Success" program, residents are invited to contact the program coordinator, Lauren Ludwig, at 335-1723 or via email at Interested residents can also explore listings on the county’s website.

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