Special Needs Planning Part 2: Inclusive Workplaces for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

For many families, graduations are an exciting time that represent all the opportunities to come. But for those caring for a loved one with an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), milestone events like this can bring to light other concerns.

Denis Horrigan, Partner and Co-founder of Connecticut Wealth Management (CTWM), sat down with Kim Morrison, owner of BeanZ & Co., to talk about the importance of creating enrichment opportunities for individuals with an IDD.

The Inclusive Employment Model

In 2018, Kim and her business partner, Noelle Alix, opened BeanZ & Co., an inclusive coffee cafe located in Avon that has a 50-50 inclusive employment model, hiring individuals with and without an IDD. Both Kim and Noelle have daughters with Down syndrome and understand the fears of worrying about what comes next after graduation. This is why they founded BeanZ & Co. together.

“For my other daughter who is still in college and for Noelle’s other girls, the world is out there for them. They have many choices and it’s up to them to choose,” said Kim. “For our other girls, Megan and Kate, the choices are already made for and there’s not a lot.”

What Happens When My Child Ages Out

By law, a child with an IDD can stay in the school system until age 21 but once they graduate, a lot of resources and support systems are cut off. When this happens, these individuals need further opportunities for enrichment, such as through employment.

While people with a disability are ready and able to work, it can be difficult for them to find opportunities for meaningful work. In fact, 80 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities are underemployed or unemployed, a figure that according to Kim, is on the conservative side.

Benefits that Go Beyond Business

Kim’s story about BeanZ shows that the benefits of building an inclusive work environment go beyond the business itself. For BeanZ, this model has had a positive impact not only on the business’ bottom line, but also on its employees and the community, who believe in the organization’s mission.

Community Success Stories

“You really see the good in everyone come out,” said Kim. “And for a special needs parent, to have your child working…that’s a huge benefit.” BeanZ is just one example of an inclusive work environment, Kim references other success stories in the community.

Resources for Helping You Get Started

For any business seriously considering implementing an inclusive employment model, Kim encourages them to “just do it.” To start, it requires a little creativity in really getting to understand an individual’s strengths and then building a position around that. Kim is happy to be a starting point for interested business owners and mentioned other helpful resources to get started.

To talk with one of our financial advisors about special needs planning, please contact us at 860-470-0290 or by filling out the contact form.