Employment Community First Choices (ECF) is a program comprised of several services that are structured to meet an individual where they are on their path to independence and provide the necessary training, resources, and opportunities to further their independence and connection to their community. With a focus on employment, community integration, independent living skills training, accessible transportation, and self-advocacy, our trained staff strives to empower individuals to live life to their fullest potential.

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Essential Services and Supports:

  • Person-Centered Support and Skill Development:

We recognize the unique strengths, abilities, and preferences of each individual enrolled in our services. We work closely with individuals and their support networks to develop personalized plans catering to their needs and aspirations. All services are structured to connect individuals with their community and enhance their level of independence in all areas of life. We believe in a person-centered approach to learning that focuses on essential communication techniques, problem-solving, self-advocacy, and more.

  • Employment Services:

The Employment Community First program offers a range of employment support. For someone new to employment, we can provide Exploration and Discovery services to help identify strengths, interests, and career goals while exploring a variety of employment industries. Our Employment Specialists will work alongside participants to create a plan outlining the steps to secure and maintain competitive employment in their chosen field of interest. Once an employment opportunity is identified, we transition to Job Placement services. This service offers guidance with the application and interview process to ensure successful integration into the workforce. Once a job has been secured, we provide Job Coaching (on-the-job support) to help participants excel in their new roles. This includes assistance acclimating to job responsibilities, navigating workplace challenges, and identifying natural supports. When an individual is fully acclimated and secure in their new role, Job Coaching supports fade, and long-term Stabilization and Monitoring begins. We will remain an as-needed support and liaison between the individual and their employer for the length of their career. This stage of employment support is often instrumental to job retention.

  • Community Integration:

Whether volunteering for local organizations, participating in health and wellness activities, experiencing the community’s sites, sounds, and culture, or simply tending to day-to-day errands, our community integration services are tailored to enhance an individual’s access to the community.

  • Transportation:

Transportation is often a challenge for individuals with I/DDs. Whether an individual needs a ride to work or community-based activity, we can ensure they have the training to access public transportation or simply provide their transportation as needed.

  • Independent Living Skills Training:

Independent Living Skills Training can take place in the comfort of an individual’s home or community settings like the grocery store. Our trained staff focus on skills that foster a balanced and healthy lifestyle, enabling individuals to prioritize self-care and effectively navigate the challenges of independent living. An emphasis on health and wellness aims to empower participants to maintain their well-being and become actively engaged in activities that contribute to their overall quality of life.

  • Personal Assistance:

Personal Assistance services are designed to provide individualized support and training to enhance an individual’s level of independence and community participation. Personal Assistance services can include assistance with various daily activities, such as personal care, household tasks, support in the community, and transportation. ECF Personal Assistance services aim to promote autonomy, enhance quality of life, and empower individuals to confidently engage in community activities.

  • Funding Sources for Employment Community First Choices Program:

All ECF services are funded by TennCare and the Employment Community First Choices Waiver. To learn more about eligibility and how to apply for TennCare and Choices Waiver, visit https://www.tn.gov/didd/employment-and-community-first-choices.html.