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Florida Outcome Improvement Network

The Florida Outcome Improvement Project is a technical assistance and training project that supports community rehabilitation providers in improving their employment and community inclusion outcomes. Project activities have been delivered through a Technical Assistance and Training Consortium*. The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council has sponsored the project over the past year.

The project has provided technical assistance and training for four community rehabilitation providers over the past year and supports a network of ten providers throughout Florida. Quarterly meetings are held for the purpose of receiving additional training relating to the development and implementation of community-based supports. Peers can network around challenges and effective practices for providing individualized community-based supports. The network meetings provide opportunities to discuss and offer credible input into the system change efforts at the state level.



Focus Program

CARD-USF and Florida Inclusion Network (FIN) assisted Pasco County School District in their implementation of the Friends Optimizing Community & Understanding Through School (FOCUS). FOCUS uses peers as natural supports for students with disabilities. Positive outcomes for those students involved in such programs are supported by data representing higher student achievement, increased self-esteem, improved behavior and attendance, and, most importantly, building of relationships and school community. These benefits have been documented not only for ESE students, but also for the non-disabled peers providing support.

Students with disabilities, especially those with more significant disabilities, often “fall through the cracks” when entering the secondary school environment. Class changes, content area expectations (Sunshine State Standards), and increased social pressures can add to the already complex needs of many students with disabilities in our schools.
Placing these children in inclusive classrooms adds to the educational complexity as exceptional student education staff try desperately to meet the needs of a variety of ESE students across the day, often in a multitude of locations. The problem of providing supports is a daunting task for many educators. So, how then, can we access available resources to provide education in the least restrictive environment? By tapping into a free, underutilized resource available on EVERY campus – PEERS!
Middle schools throughout the state are utilizing the power of peers to provide curricular supports for students with special needs in a variety of ways. By matching students deemed “at-risk” with those requiring adaptations to the general education curriculum, peer support programs produce win-win results for all.

* Consortium members: CARD-USF, the Technology, Inclusion and Employment Project through the University of Tennessee and the Regional Continuing Education Program for Rehabilitation Providers through Georgia State University. In addition, the project has had a collaborative relationship with ARC/Florida, the Florida Association for Persons in Supported Employment, the Florida Association for Rehabilitation Facilities, and Vocational Rehabilitation.

Project Impact

  • 8 staff positions converted from facility-based services to community-based supports

  • 484 individuals participating in community participation/exploration

  • 151 individuals participating in supported living

  • 286 individuals working through supported employment, who;
    • receive an average hourly wages of $6.01 per hour;
    • work an average of 24 hours per week; and,
    • cumulatively have annual wages in the amount of $2,846,929.