STEP Program Recognized with MACDDS Cutting Edge Award

The Seamless Transition through Enhanced Partnership (STEP) program was recognized with the “Cutting Edge Award” Friday at the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services (MACDDS)annual fall conference. The STEP program, designed to improve employment outcomes for youth with developmental disabilities, is a partnership between Columbia Public Schools, Alternative Community Training (ACT), Vocational Rehabilitation, Boone Hospital Center and Boone County Family Resources (BCFR).

While some young adults with developmental disabilities successfully complete high school and find work, STEP alternatively gives young people real-world experience with the added benefit of an instructor who guides participants through vocational training that satisfies the students’ high school credit and prepares them for future employment.

“The STEP program has been a tremendous success,” says Duane Shumate, District Supervisor, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. “We have seen the lives of six individuals shaped in ways that previously had only been imagined. We have seen families, businesses and community moved through the inspirational stories of hope and pride. We have seen networking become cooperation, cooperation become partnership and partnership become collaboration.”

Students selected for the STEP program must meet a long list of criteria, including being a student with Columbia public schools, having a developmental disability and needing vocational development. They must also provide letters of recommendation. Finally, students must be appointed to the program by a selection committee comprised of representatives from each of the member agencies.

Boone Hospital Center is hosting students in the STEP program Monday through Friday during the school year. Students began the year with vocational training from certified teachers from Columbia public schools and ACT in a classroom at the hospital.

The MACDDS “Cutting Edge Award” recognizes services and/or programs that are unique, inclusive, person centered, respectful and dignified. The award is presented at the annual conference to agencies that provide services and/or programs that lead to more interdependence or independence, promote a learning culture in which creativity, innovation, and risk-taking are supported, and where staff feel empowered to provide excellent supports.

Organized in 1979, MACDDS is comprised of 55 county boards that provide local services for an estimated 36,000 people with developmental disabilities in the state. The organization also provides a forum for member county boards, related private organizations and affiliated public agencies to share information, discuss common problems and rally action in areas of overall concern. MACDDS has made a strong impact on state legislative initiatives involving person with developmental disabilities. BCFR is a member of MACDDS.

BCFR was established by the passage of a special property tax levy in 1976. The levy was increased through a ballot initiative in 1993. The agency offers services through three programs: Supported Living, Life and Work Connections and Family and Community Living Support. The mission of BCFR is to effectively and efficiently use agency and other available resources to enable Boone County residents with developmental disabilities to progress toward normal living and to develop, as far as possible, their capacity, performance, and relationship with other persons.

For More Information Contact – Robyn Kaufman, Executive Director at (573) 874-1995