Transportation as a Barrier
One of the barriers preventing our clients from obtaining employment is transportation. They usually rely on buses, vanpool, private vans, or family members to reach their jobs and get out into the community. Unfortunately, transit systems in Kitsap and Pierce counties are not ideal and complications with these transit systems often result in clients being unable to reach their destinations.
I once supported a client working in Sumner. In 2011, Pierce Transit eliminated service to Sumner and Bonney Lake, isolating these communities from accessing transportation through the bus system. Low income people and people with disabilities were hit the worst. My client working in Sumner was unable to find other means of transportation and was forced to quit her job.
Due to limitations of the bus system, we have been creative with finding other ways to transport our clients. Some of our clients use Aacres vans (vans supplied by an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities). However, these sources of transportation often fall short. Aacres vans tend to be late and drive to limited areas in the county.
A similar situation is happening in Kitsap County with Access, the bus system that transports seniors and people with disabilities. Access does not always reach outlying areas in the county. Some of our clients live in remote locations such as Olalla. Access visits these areas once or twice a day, and sometimes not at all.
Cares Job Coach, Mariam worked with a client who attended book clubs that helped her interact with other book lovers in the community. This client relied on NEMT (non-emergency medical transport) to reach the library. In order to reserve a ride, a document must be faxed two days in advance. Mariam had scheduled a ride for this client, but when she called them to confirm the reservation, they said that they did not receive the paperwork. Later, they informed her that they had misfiled the paperwork.
Our clients are thus limited by the schedules, availability, and imperfections of various transit systems. And these limitations are large barriers for our clients who are getting out into the community and seeking employment.