Employment First

Paid job training in an integrated setting.

STARS provides job training for qualified individuals with the goal of placing them in a more challenging, community-based employment opportunity. Through careful and caring supervision in a protected work environment, our trained staff helps develop and teach meaningful employment-related activities. We work with individuals to develop real-life, vocational skills such as hygiene, punctuality, supervisory & peer relationships, job interviewing and work etiquette. This initiative is designed to build confidence and help participants obtain and retain an independent position. Employers who utilize this initiative will help decrease turnover and gain highly trained and committed employees, and long-term support services for an employed individual.

Jules and Danielle pose before the interview.

Our very own Jules Hyde, Director of Employment Services, sat down with Diva Danielle and shared with her all the exciting things happening at STARS through the Employment First Initiative. Take a peek at this video to be in the know too!

Enjoy the video here.

How to Become an Employment First Partner

STARS community partners provide job placement opportunities within their organizations.

Benefits of hiring a STARS participant:

  1. Participants excel at performing repetitive tasks that can contribute to excessive turnover
  2. Participants take their job seriously and are loyal and committed
  3. Participants don’t use their smartphone during work hours

To learn how to become a STARS community partner or more about the program, please contact: Jules Hyde, Director of Employment Services.

The Employment First initiative is designed to help our job seekers find jobs that interest them. First we figure out their interests and then we help them apply for jobs with those interests in mind. This helps give the job seeker a choice and enthusiasm about the employment opportunities that fit them best.

Employment First is a national initiative that focuses on providing a framework for systems change (to include integrated employment opportunities) centered on the premise that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life… The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) defines integrated employment as work paid directly by employers at the greater of minimum or prevailing wages with commensurate benefits, occurring in a typical work setting where the employee with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co-workers without disabilities, has an opportunity for advancement and job mobility, and is preferably engaged full-time. – From the U.S Department Of Labor – Employment First website.

Erik Rocking His Canteen Mojo

Stars has recently engaged with Canteen one of the world’s largest food service delivery companies for vending machines and small business markets. Canteen was looking to hire people with special needs, and through the Arizona@Work initiative they were introduced to the STARS Employment First initiative.

Stars has been working with Erik G in multiple employment initiatives for a few years now, and saw that this position with Canteen was checking all the marks for the kind of work Erik has always been interested in. STARS was able to introduce Erik and Canteen, and with the help of our Job Placement Coordinator Jason Streichman, Erik was able to move through the interview and onboarding process within a few weeks.

“I love my job, building orders and helping people out. The people there are all so nice and supportive! It’s great to be part of a team!”

One day last week Erik was able to successfully return ten crates of food items back to their shelving areas in the Canteen warehouse. When given the task the expectation was for Erik to finish five. He doubled the amount of productivity expected, and thoroughly impressed his peers and management. Erik has also shown a renewed vigor in his motivation towards employment. Getting to work early, on time, and dressed professionally. When asked about what he thinks about his job so far Erik has this to say. “I love my job, building orders and helping people out. The people there are all so nice and supportive! It’s great to be part of a team!” Go Erik!!

Job Carving Success!

STARS Employment First initiative has been working with a STARS member who was hired at a local hotel. This hotel was getting low grades on its inspections when cleaning rooms. They were cleaning the room just enough, but they started to see build up in some of the details. Grime in the floorboards, behind the toilets, sticky dressers, things of that nature.

We saw an opportunity for success…

Our member who has autism excels at detail work and doing things to completion.Because they could not let a single crumb go unnoticed, they would take more time to clean each room, to a point where they were going beyond their shift. Which became a challenge for both the member and the hotel. But the hotel saw how the quality of the rooms that were cleaned by our member was much better than what their neurotypical peers were able to do.

The hotel had a need for detail work, and the STARS member excelled at the details. With a few discussions and meetings with the member and the manager, it was decided that this member would benefit the hotel by being their designated detail cleaner! Moving forward they will go into already cleaned rooms and focus on the details! So, from the smudge on the wall to the crumbs behind the dresser, nothing goes unnoticed or unattended. This is a great example of how a job can be carved to mutually benefit an employer and their new employee with special needs.

“Prior to this experience, Brian had never applied to jobs, gone to an actual interview or experienced how much effort and energy it takes just looking for jobs. I could not be more thankful to STARS for providing my brother with this valuable life experience.”






“We cannot begin to describe our appreciation of STARS and the work they have done with Ryan through the Employment First initiative… STARS relationship with the employer was key. To say the grocery stores have been pre-occupied with other things during the pandemic is an understatement. Yet STARS persevered, and was able to convince them that making the effort to hire Ryan would be worthwhile. And we cannot get over how happy he is. It may sound trite, but STARS turned this disaster of a pandemic into the best thing that has ever happened to Ryan!”

Continue Reading Ryan’s Story

Community-Based Programs

From job training to job placement to very proud participants.

STARS staff is trained in developing and teaching meaningful employment-related activities such as hygiene, punctuality, supervisory & peer relationships, job interviewing and work etiquette. This program focuses on specific vocational job responsibilities and tasks that an individual will be required to perform during their workday. Participants receive job skills training in an integrated community setting and are assigned professional job coaches who provide mentoring during their shifts. We also train individuals how to navigate social and work-related interactions in our community. Once employed, STARS continues to work closely with the individual to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience and provide long-term, ongoing support services.