The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one in five children and adults will experience a special need or disability during their lifetime. Voya Financial ’s white paper entitled “Helping American families achieve financial security while facing special needs and disabilities challenges” provides insight into the many economic and emotional challenges faced by the estimated 65 million Americans living with special needs, and their caregivers.
We believe employers should assume the role of a navigator to help their employees successfully and efficiently steer through their caregiver concerns. Similar to Voya’s initiatives, in this role companies can:
- Provide one-stop educational access to resources and information on caregiving.
- Reduce the emotional stress of caregivers by helping employees understand complex legal and financial issues relating to caregivers and people with special needs.
- Open or create portals that provide access to support and education networks.
- Advocate for the concerns of working caregivers and people with special needs.
- Increase awareness of service providers who are experts in assisting people with special needs.
- Provide increased employment for people with special needs and disabilities.
- Offer access to financial solutions involving quality of life and care issues.
- Providing flexible work schedules for caregiver duties.
- Eliminate perceived or real biases of performance and productivity toward employees caring for people with special needs.
- Create understanding among employees of the challenges facing co-workers who care for people with special needs.
- Foster an atmosphere of encouragement that allows employees caring for people with special needs to be open about their responsibilities.
We are committed to leadership in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with special needs and disabilities – as well as their families and caregivers – by helping them plan, invest and protect the future they envision. As such, we created a Special Needs Center of Excellence, which coordinates an internal Special Needs Task Force formed to concentrate on the following areas:
- Internal Awareness – to focus on how we can assist with holistic financial solutions and strategies across all Voya businesses that are appropriately aligned with government and community programs.
- Employee Education – to continue supporting our hiring practices, work environment and employee benefits that recognize and appropriately accommodate individuals with special needs or disabilities.
- Culture – to further a culture of inclusion that helps build, attract, and retain high-caliber talent and strengthens our relationships with our clients and distribution partners.
- Core Values – to communicate the initiative as part of Voya’s core values (particularly, ‘We Care’) to further emphasize our culture, our mission to help all Americans plan for a secure financial future and to increase employees’ pride in working for Voya.
These efforts resulted in the Voya Cares® program, in which our advisors help people with special needs and caregivers plan for the future they envision. We developed and provided training in special needs planning to advisors and client groups to help them serve the special needs community. This helps us bridge the gap with our offerings to help individuals know where to turn for assistance.
Voya Cares® Program Continues Its Momentum to Support the Special Needs and Disabilities Community
Our Voya Cares® program, our commitment to helping Americans with special needs and disabilities and their caregivers plan, invest and protect their financial future, is an example of how we are a different kind of company. We are impacting the lives of people in this underserved community by helping them think differently, and holistically, about their financial future. The program has made the following great strides among our employees, in the greater business community, and within local communities:
- Launched a Disabilities and Special Needs Employee Resource Group to lead efforts toward supporting and employing those with special needs and disabilities, and their caregivers.
- Trained employees to help integrate support for the special needs and disabilities community into business operations.
- Added resources to the health and benefit offerings.
- Launched the Optum Special Needs Navigator resource to provide access to a licensed behavioral clinician to support spouses and/or dependents.
Leading the industry:
- Launched a resource center to assist customers with online enrollment.
- Enhanced web-based tools, particularly the myOrangeMoney® retirement savings calculator, featuring help for the special needs community.
- Published an accessibility statement and ensured adherence to web accessibility guidelines.
- Launched an education program for Voya’s financial advisors regarding service to the special needs community.
- Conducted a media outreach campaign to educate financial advisors and parents of children with special needs, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and U.S. News and World Report.
Supporting local communities:
- Hosted financial education sessions for young leaders in collaboration with the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN), a nonprofit working to drive disability inclusion in the workforce.
- Partnered with Special Olympics on the Invest in Something Special™ campaign and raised $520,000 for local chapters.
- Presented at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) annual conference and sponsored NDSS’ 23rd Annual New York City Buddy Walk® in Times Square and Central Park.
- Met with House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers to encourage legislation that supports the special needs community.
- Publicly announced the launch of our Voya Cares program at the ringing of the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) 225th anniversary opening-bell celebration, recognizing a select group of USBLN.
- Became a Going for the Gold partner of USBLN.
- Participated on a United Nations’ panel to discuss employment opportunities for adults with special needs/disabilities on World Down Syndrome Day.
- Attended the CAREERS & the disABLED Magazine’s Career Expo for People with Disabilities in New York, bringing companies and government agencies together with prospective employees.