Best Practices for Counselors Sponsoring a Client through Training Programs:
Over the years, our staff has recognized some critical areas for counselor and client to be mindful of so the experience both before and during training is maximized to their benefit and employment success.
Arrival to Buffalo
Because our lodging students receive orientation services prior to class starting and because these services include O&M from our Olmsted staff, we ask clients to arrive two days prior to the start of classes so there is no interruption to class instruction time.
It is most helpful for our staff if a client and counselor share specific information as it pertains to employment goals and as agreed upon during a client’s finalized ISP or service plan. Additionally, if a student has had a recent 504 or IEP that reflects academic supports put in place during secondary programs, this can assist our staff in planning ahead for specific needs and teaching supports. This information will be privileged only to staff on a “need to know” basis, who will be directly working with your client
Orientation & Mobility Skills and Independent Living Skills
Counselors should have a full and current understanding of their client’s skills with regard to O&M and daily living. Clients will receive O&M services to acclimate to the hotel and the Olmsted Center however; in depth skill training is not able to be provided in lieu of classroom instruction. Additionally, because students lodge in an extended stay hotel (with single occupancy and a full kitchen) counselors should be mindful that meal preparation, daily hygiene, dressing, medications, service animal care and any other daily living skills should be at a level of independence.
In addition to the independent daily living skills that may require a student to monitor a health condition with/without assistive devices or take daily medicines, we ask that clients and counselors have an up to date understanding of any medical conditions and risks. This should include emergency plans, emergency contacts, understanding of health insurance coverage out of state, and current doctor releases to attend training should there be any significant health concerns.
Personal Finances and Related Personal Issues Readiness
We encourage counselors to have a frank and open discussion with their clients regarding financial issues that may affect their receiving per diem monies directly and to make sure that clients have a credit card or debit card with ample amount of funds to be held by the hotel to cover their policy regarding incidental room charges. While we strongly discourage the use of hotel services that would result in a room charge (i.e. room service), we must abide by the hotel policy for all guests in securing credit card or debit card holds in case a client does accrue charges or cause damage. For more information, please see the Welcome Packet or contact the Admissions office. Incidental charges will not be approved for payment by Statler from a client’s lodging authorization monies if we are acting as a pass through for billing.
For local students that may be commuting daily, we ask that counselors implement a discussion and plan with their client for how they will travel to and from school daily and whether they need financial assistance to do so.
Some students may have required and frequent appointments or mandated frequent appointments that may affect their ability to attend a daily on-site training session from 9:00am-4:00pm. Please take a moment to ensure that your client is not only able to attend but also ready to attend and seeking an employment outcome at this time. We understand that some absences will occur and instructors will adhere to our attendance policy in those instances however, repeated and regular absences that involve required appointments may become problematic over time. Communicating any problems or concerns regarding the training schedule is best done prior to registering for training with Statler. Please note that we can NOT change our instructional schedule to meet a student’s needs.
There are some programs to which we can refer a client for interview outfits, but clients should be prepared with enough clothing prior to their arrival. Olmsted requires our students wear business casual dress. This means students should not wear jeans, sneakers, sandals, flip flops, hats, hoodies, T-shirts, etc. We ask students wear what would be appropriate in an office environment including appropriate shoes. We understand for some students this may be an initial hardship, so we ask that counselors discuss with their clients the availability of enough clothing for their time at Olmsted. Laundry facilities are available at the hotel, and while there are shopping malls in the area, shopping must be an independent activity outside of class hours. Olmsted staff will not schedule shopping with a student.
What Do I Need to Bring ?
Often students and counselors wonder if they need to bring any equipment with them, such as laptops, Braillers, recorders, etc. It is unnecessary to bring a computer, as we provide the workstation including the applicable software clients use while in Buffalo. All students will receive materials in an accessible electronic format (including online learners) with regard to class notes, texts, worksheets, etc. Those students who read printed materials will also be provided with such. If students prefer to have some items Brailled, we can do that. Again, it is unnecessary to bring devices, however, if a student has a particular item he/she feels comfortable with and wants to use, such as a recorder for notes and lectures or a refreshable Braille display, feel free to bring it. We ask, however, the student knows how to use it; we will not stop class to train on a personal device. This also includes students who bring laptops for personal use. Olmsted is unable to troubleshoot or repair personal items.
Housing Upon Return Home
Counselors sponsoring a client through the in-house trainings should discuss with the client prior to departure from home any housing issues that may affect the client’s return living arrangements and any benefit related programs that may be jeopardized. Olmsted would never want a student to jeopardize his/her housing or ignore any housing issues that might be priorities over training.
Overnight Guests at the Hotel
The Olmsted Center has entered into a contract with the lodging hotel to enable our students to receive specific services and a discounted rate of stay while in Buffalo. Some students have family members who would like to show support at graduation by coming to Buffalo to attend the ceremony. We ask they limit their arrival to the week of graduation and that they do not extend their stay past one week. The hotel policy regarding guests of registered guests is to charge a daily fee to cover the housekeeping and breakfast buffet charges, to extend the use of the courtesy shuttle only if the registered guest is present and the shuttle is available, and to require the guest also provide a separate credit or debit card to hold an incidental charge amount according to hotel policy.
Guests of students should refrain from coming to Olmsted unless it is graduation day and at the time of graduation so students may focus on coursework. Only current and registered Olmsted students should be on location with the exception of the graduation ceremony and luncheon. Additionally, separate transportation to and from the ceremony should be arranged. Because counselors are sponsoring a client through our programs with state monies, we also ask counselors agree to guests their clients may invite. If any extenuating circumstances exist wherein a counselor would approve a guest longer than the week of graduation, we ask counselors to communicate this specific situation as soon as possible. **Please keep in mind Olmsted is unable to dictate or change hotel policy.
Should a guest of a student become problematic according to the hotel’s determination, the hotel will act on its policy, which may include removal from the hotel and premises. The guest will be fully financially responsible for his/her own travel and subsequent lodging needs.Olmsted will not intervene nor be held liable. If a student is involved in any behavior contrary to hotel policy and the hotel wishes to remove him/her, the student also may be dismissed from the program. Olmsted will not assist with secondary or emergency travel or lodging; the student will need to contact counselor for direction.
Of course, we welcome a student’s service animal into class, the Olmsted Center and the hotel. All students with service animals will be asked to sign that they acknowledge the local leash and waste removal ordinances within the City of Buffalo and the hotel location, and that they will independently care for their animals. We ask service animals not be left unattended in hotel rooms. We also ask both client and counselor ensure the service animals have up to date vaccinations and an emergency plan in place should veterinary services be required. Olmsted acknowledges the great service guide dogs provide and understands the importance of a well-trained animal in assisting our students. Therefore, we ask if there are any issues between student and guide dog, such as age, skill deficits, new dog arrival etc., they be considered when assessing if it is the right time to apply for training at Olmsted.
Conferences and Reporting During Training
Progress reports from all instructional staff are provided to counselors twice per course: at the mid-point and final point of each class. Students in academic jeopardy also will receive notice and a plan of remediation will be implemented. These detailed reports and conferences are very important in ensuring that client, counselor and Olmsted stay on track with any skill or training concerns, since remedial or accelerated skills may positively or negatively affect employment or placement determinations. It is extremely important counselors attend these conferences either in person or remotely. Olmsted requires a counselor to participate in a conference at a mutually convenient time at least once per class taken. Additionally, counselors will be asked to acknowledge they have received and read the provided reports.
Placement Plan Conferences and Ongoing Reporting
Again, because Olmsted vviews placement success as a shared effort among our staff, graduates and their sponsoring counselors, we require counselors to attend the initial placement meeting, whether in person or remotely at a mutually agreed upon time. Subsequent to that, we ask counselors and clients attend meetings on a monthly basis, whether in person or remotely at a mutually agreed upon time until placement is finalized.
Our values a reciprocal and transparent flow of communication among center, counselor and student. Because of this and to ensure accurate reporting, we ask counselors notify us immediately of any change in counselor, whether temporary or permanent. We also understand counselors have large caseloads, therefore, if possible, it helps to provide the name of a counselor’s assistant as a back-up contact. The counselor will of course also be contacted.
Likewise, we prefer any authorizations for service be sent via email or fax. While some entities do send authorizations and purchase orders via US mail, we find this greatly delays the requirements of our finance department in setting up clients’ needs for arrival. A digital copy is preferred, and, as always, clients should never arrive onsite prior to an authorization from their sponsoring agency. We do require authorizations be “in hand” before clients depart to Buffalo.
Please direct all concerns or questions to;
Karla Manzella, Admissions Coordinator
1. High school/GED/TASC diploma – copy of diploma or transcript
2. Keyboard assessment (20 words per minute threshold required)
ADDITIONAL ITEMS REQUESTED
3. Open case with Commission for the Blind or Vocational Rehabilitation service provider
4. Two letters of professional or character reference
5. Admissions interview
6. The Statler Center program seeks motivated applicants who have actively worked toward an employment outcome and pursued vocational development by engaging in activities such as, but not limited to: placement, job readiness, job clubs and/or education, as well as those who have an “everyday” use of technology
7. Recommend the sharing of an ISP regarding employment goals and/or if applicable, recent 504 or IEP plan to assist staff with instructional supports
8. *Distance learning applicants must complete an online exercise to ensure familiarity with our platform.