Aunt Chris has physical custody of Emily, but not legal custody. As a young adult, Emily knew she wanted to work. However, she had an intellectual disability that was diagnosed in childhood. Her struggle with schoolwork, along with a crisis at home, led to her dropping out of high school in the 10th grade. Emily’s father died the year she entered 10th grade, leaving her mother with little income to care for Emily and her three siblings. The court system eventually gave Aunt Chris physical custody of Emily because she needed specialized assistance in order to reach her full potential.
When Aunt Chris and Emily came in together to visit Goodwill’s Job Connection, Aunt Chris did all the talking. She said she was looking for help in getting food stamps for the two of them. She didn’t think it would be a good idea for Emily to get a job since Aunt Chris didn’t want to lose the SSDI funds she was getting to raise Emily. Emily had been denied food stamps earlier in the year and Aunt Chris felt she was “getting the run around from DCF.” At the Job Connection, Kathy made contact with DCF who reported they had closed the case because the application had been filled out incorrectly. Kathy suggested that Aunt Chris might re-submit the application and gave her some information about what she needed to say about Emily’s disability, including the documentation that would need to accompany the application. Kathy helped make arrangements to pick up the documentation from the records department at the Manatee County School District office. After many long, lengthy text messages from Aunt Chris to the Job Connection regarding the application, Emily was approved for food-stamps.
As a result of her first interaction with the Job Connection, Emily felt comfortable going back to the office to discuss finding a job that would allow her to support herself. Emily explained that she was interested in working at a car wash, doing landscaping, or cleaning. Emily thought she was old enough now to make decisions on her own without having to have someone else speak for her. Emily kept coming back into the Job Connection for the next few weeks to work on her resume.
Before long, Emily was ready to go on an interview. One day while she was in the Job Connection working on a cover letter, a representative from a custodial company stopped in and mentioned that they were looking to hire someone for part-time custodial work with a local company. Emily felt she was more than qualified for the custodian position. She was comfortable with the essential functions of the job and she wanted to apply.
Emily went to business, completed the employment application on her own, and was scheduled for the interview. Kathy gave her some interview tips and practice sessions. Emily nailed the interview.
Today, Emily has a part-time job that pays $11.00/hour and she has never felt better about herself. As for Aunt Chris, she did get food stamps but she had to claim Emily’s income from her job so the amount was reduced. However, Emily is under the limit of what she’s allowed to make and still retains her SSDI benefits, so the family continues to receive those benefits. Aunt Chris has made peace with the fact that Emily is working. After all, they could use the money now that Aunt Chris has a Goodwill shopping addiction that needs to be supported. It’s what we do . . .