New Eyes for the Needy is among employers who give our students a chance to sample jobs in the community.

ECLC of New Jersey’s school in Chatham thanked 18 local employers who open up their businesses—and their hearts—to give students with special needs real-life work experiences! These wonderful job “sampling” opportunities are part of an exclusive Transition Program offered to prepare ECLC students for adulthood.

ECLC’s school offers much more than academics and therapies. The nonprofit school prepares students for life!

Starting at age 14, students begin the Transition Program, and it continues until graduation at age 21. Students gain their initial work experiences right at the school in a dedicated room with equipment, supplies and a staff of teachers who are specialists. Students complete simple jobs and learn the “soft” skills of expected behaviors and attitudes in the workplace. They fulfill orders from the outside, managing mailings, collating newsletters and creating custom invitations, T-shirts, mugs, napkins, menus, and more. They even run the school lunch program!

After students have mastered the basics, they move out into the community to “sample” jobs. They get to experience everything from child care and retail to food service, maintenance and office administrative support.

“Our goal is to prepare students for independent living and for a smooth transition from school to young adulthood!” said SKIL Coordinator Kim Nixon. (The acronym SKIL stands for Seeking Knowledge for Independent Living.)

In their final year before graduation, employment specialists from ECLC’s affiliate Community Personnel Services (CPS) help students create a plan to take them into the next chapter of their lives.

Students learn to write resumes, practice interviewing skills, interact with co-workers and make decisions—with their families—about work or a day program. CPS has a 23-year track record of successfully assisting people with disabilities obtain and retain jobs. The job placement rate is 98%.

ECLC also runs the PRIDE Day Program exclusively for alumni who are not ready for full-time work, because of the nature of their disability. All ECLC students graduate with a concrete plan for their future—and that is the ECLC difference!