Developmental Services Worker (DSW) Microenterprise Consultant
The human soul searches for meaning and purposeful endeavor. The individual with developmental disabilities also joins in this quest. The desire can be locked within - either in a state of keen awareness or in a roaming, inexpressible search. The proposed new business venture of a DSW Microenterprise Consultant would provide services and support for the individual with a developmental disability who would want to set up a self-employed microenterprise. For a young adult with an Autism Spectrum Disorder for example, paced and patient facilitation is required with the pursuit of this journey. Skillful exploration is needed in order to provide opportunity for them to develop intrinsic gifts and marketable skills and pave the way for therapeutic involvement in industry. The DSW Microenterprise Consultant would provide the time and unique expertise to explore the possibilities with this individual of developing a product or skill. The goal is for the individual to receive the normal benefits of monetary payment for the product created while participating in the process of therapeutic work.
As a starter venture, the proposed DSW Microenterprise Consultant would provide services only to the sector of individuals already receiving what is called “Passport funds” from Developmental Services Ontario (DSO). By definition, a Passport fund recipient is a person who is 18 years old or older with a developmental disability who has left school or is preparing to leave school and is not eligible for Ontario Disability Support Program – Employment Supports because they do not meet the criteria for pursuing employment at least at the present time. Allocating “Passport funds” was designed to enhance community participation supports.
An outstanding need still exists for individuals receiving Passport funds to access professional services to identify inherent gifts and marketable skills to explore the possibility of establishing a unique self-employed microenterprise. This purpose and process must be distinguished from the already existing provision of weekly community activities available in different Developmental Service Provider Centers. It is clearly intended that there is no duplication of present services already available and accessible. Individuals who express a desire to explore the possibility of starting a microenterprise, or, are identified as such by someone in their support team, will then apply for a “visa”. I am using this term creatively in order to explain that Passport fund holders will be able to apply for the unique consultation services and supports that the DSW Microenterprise Consultant would provide for exploring this venture.
• The benefits of overall well-being to the individual with a developmental disability who is allowed to dream and is given an opportunity to create a marketable item or talent are immeasurable. Contribution to society is the right of everyone and is a hallmark of having “the good things of life.” Job satisfaction for the individual participating in industry and the community’s small business sector and Arts Festival events will promote a deepening sense of well-being. The venture would include supporting the individual in self-development skills to build up a meaningful resume/portfolio as well as active participation in person-centered Volunteer work.
• The benefit to the overall community in ownership and support of this vision promotes authentic inclusion and a deeper sense of community. As local marketing opportunities are pursued by the DSW Microenterprise Consultant, potential financial gain for the individual, the community, and budget benefits for the Provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services over the DSO is the expectation. Pursuing marketing opportunities will include exploring culture organizations, religious institutions, citizen associations, libraries and small local private sector businesses.
• The DSW Microenterprise Consultant will attend the monthly local Chamber of Commerce meetings in order to promote and strengthen net-working and seek opportunities for participation in their varied annual city-wide events. This energetic advocacy and liaison will promote true inclusion and heightened awareness of an untapped micro-enterprise source.
• Funds received from the sales of the product that the individual’s microenterprise markets, will complement their Passport Funds and provide a limited portion for the DSW Microenterprise Consultant fees. The majority of sales will provide reinvestment of materials for ongoing production, opportunities for the individual to participate in further educational activities, trainings, trips, involvement in community activities and other personally chosen benefits.
• 6 months for the Developmental Services Worker (DSW) to begin the process of being adequately equipped in Continuous Education as a DSW Microenterprise Consultant. Continuous Education would include basic business set-up skills, public relations, and financial understanding. (Sound financial advice is needed to ensure that existing entitlements under DSO – Passport funding remain intact, and participation in a private enterprise would only enhance existing funds available to the individual.)
• Within this same 6-month period, a thorough and appropriate networking through social media and personal visits by the DSW Microenterprise Consultant(s) to all Developmental Services Provider agencies will take place. For example, in the local region of Hastings and Prince Edward, the DSW Microenterprise Consultant will be in active two-way communication with each of the agencies as well as individuals living in private homes and Group Homes – all young people who already receive DSO Passport funding. (See featured image) The purpose and parameters of this micro-enterprise thrust for candidates who meet the criteria will be clearly explained as well as contact information disseminated.
• After 6 months, the DSW Microenterprise Consultant will be prepared to make initial visits and begin to receive “Visa applications” from Passport fund holders who express interest in beginning a microenterprise.
>>Visa application submitted to
DSW Microenterprise Consultant>>
>> DSW Microenterprise Consultant identifies
support team - family, friends, DSWs. Identify
other resources needed including skilled artisans,
musicians, artists, entertainers - from the
community to provide occasional volunteer
>>Create proposal in collaboration with
individual and support team, including
>>Project begins. Ongoing regular visits
from the DSW Microenterprise Consultant
to ensure supports and services are
Success would be reflected in that:
1. the individual has established a self-employed microenterprise and has received monetary payment for a product
2. the individual is more involved and integrated into his/her local community and the community has begun to recognize the meaningful contributions.
3. the individual has a sense of job satisfaction and/or benefits for the individual therapeutically involved in industry is recognized by the support team