Contra Costa ARC
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Support Services

What kind of training do staff members receive?

Contra Costa ARC has a strong commitment to staff training.

  • "ARC University" is our intensive 10-day training program for new staff members.  It combines classroom work and on-the-job experience to give each person a solid foundation of knowledge and skill in all the essential aspects of his or her job. ARC University is also open to long-term staff members and to staff from other local agencies throughout Contra Costa County.
  • We have an annual training program for all staff that focuses on one important topic each month.  The emphasis is on Heath, Safety and Human Rights.
  • First Aid, CPR and Pro-Act courses are made available regularly for all staff members.
  • Ongoing education and training also occurs through staff meetings, interaction with supervisors and courses available through local community resources.
  • In 2008, Contra Costa ARC is introducing the nationally recognized on-line learning program "College of Direct Support" for agency staff.  This program is being made available to direct service professionals throughout California by The Arc of California.  We are proud to be participating. 

How soon can I start services?  Will I have to wait?

Contra Costa ARC makes every effort to serve all individuals who meet our entrance criteria.   We try our best to make the services available when they are needed, without delay. Usually that is possible, but sometimes a delay can occur.  It may be because a particular program has the maximum number of participants, according to our state license, or it may be due to other capacity issues.  When this happens a waiting list is established.  The Program Coordinator will stay in touch with you about your place on the list and your expected start date. 

How do I know your programs and services will meet my needs? 

Every person who participates in a Contra Costa ARC program has an individual service plan that he or she develops along with staff. Each person's goals are unique and each person has his or her own objectives along the way to reaching the goals. We know that our services are successful when these individual goals and objectives are reached.  We keep track of each individual's progress and report on it regularly.

In addition to these individual goals and objectives there are some measures of success that Commercial Support Services looks at overall, combining all participants' results together. These measures include:

  • how much money individuals are earning each month
  • how much time individuals are working
  • how satisfied people are with the services
  • for people leaving our production centers, whether they are moving to a job in the community
  • for people working in the community:
    • how long have they held their job,
    • do they have benefits
    • have they gotten a raise
    • are they working with a variety of people—some with disabilities and some without.

These factors are reviewed 4 times every year and the results are published in our Annual Report.  

How much do services cost?  Will I have to pay?

Contra Costa ARC's services are provided through various government and private funding agencies.  Individuals who are eligible for these funding agencies receive the services at no charge.  Most individuals served in our programs are clients of the Regional Center of the East Bay and, according to a California law called the Lanterman Act, cannot be charged a fee for the services.

How much will I earn when I am working at CSS?

Learning good job skills and good work behavior is the foundation for a long a successful career for anyone who wants to work.   The best way to gain these skills is by on-the-job training.  You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed at CSS.  You will be paid for all the work you do through CSS. 

Sometimes jobs pay minimum wage.  Some jobs pay higher than minimum wage.  It depends on the type of work involved.  Sometimes wages are based on what is called "productivity."  Productivity has to do with the quality of your work and how fast you work.  When wages are based on productivity, the amount you earn depends upon how much you produce.  If you work slowly you could earn less than minimum wage, and if you work quickly you could earn more than minimum wage.  It depends on how much work you produce.   But in every case, if you work at the standard pace with the standard quality for the job, you will earn exactly the same amount as any person with or without a disability working on a similar job in your community. 

The wages paid by CSS are carefully monitored by the Department of Labor at the state and federal level to assure that the wages you receive are fair and accurate.

How do I know if Contra Costa ARC's services are right for me?

We encourage every person who is interested in our services to come and visit and learn as much as possible before making a decision to participate.  We also encourage you to visit other programs in the area, learn about them and compare. It is important that you make an informed choice—the choice that is best for you, at this time in your life. 

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