Supported Employment

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

supportSupported Employment services are designed to assist those job seekers most vulnerable to hiring discrimination based on the severity of their disabilities.  Individuals who are frequently just an afterthought to hiring managers are ideal candidates for this program.  This oversight is not typically out of malice, but because the vast majority of hiring professionals may not have been exposed to the true occupational potential of someone with an intellectual disability, Autism, or one of many mental health diagnosis.  Supported Employment is, in essence, a more holistic approach to preparing our clients for the world of work; assisting them with securing employment; and training them to perform the job at or above competitive standards.

Implemented in December of 2014, the current Supported Employment service model utilized by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division (TWC-VRS) is a model predicated on the attainment of benchmarks.  A Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) such as The River City Group must assist our clients in reaching certain milestones that certify occupational progress.  Learning to perform the job tasks without assistance; understanding the social aspects of employment; and learning how to independently solve problems are among the benchmarks that must be satisfied.

Whereas an individual referred to us for Job Placement services might be considered to be planning a trip to the Hill Country, a Supported Employment client is being prepared for a trip to Albuquerque. And anyone who has ever had to buy gas in Junction can attest to the penalty to be paid for a lack of planning. Ouch.

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

supportSupported Employment services are designed to assist those job seekers most vulnerable to hiring discrimination based on the severity of their disabilities.  Individuals who are frequently just an afterthought to hiring managers are ideal candidates for this program.  This oversight is not typically out of malice, but because the vast majority of hiring professionals may not have been exposed to the true occupational potential of someone with an intellectual disability, Autism, or one of many mental health diagnosis.  Supported Employment is, in essence, a more holistic approach to preparing our clients for the world of work; assisting them with securing employment; and training them to perform the job at or above competitive standards.

Implemented in December of 2014, the current Supported Employment service model utilized by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division (TWC-VRS) is a model predicated on the attainment of benchmarks.  A Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) such as The River City Group must assist our clients in reaching certain milestones that certify occupational progress.  Learning to perform the job tasks without assistance; understanding the social aspects of employment; and learning how to independently solve problems are among the benchmarks that must be satisfied.

Whereas an individual referred to us for Job Placement services might be considered to be planning a trip to the Hill Country, a Supported Employment client is being prepared for a trip to Albuquerque. And anyone who has ever had to buy gas in Junction can attest to the penalty to be paid for a lack of planning. Ouch.

Terminology

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT ASSESSMENT (SEA)

The SEA defines what is largely a discovery process for our clients and us.  We learn as much as we can about our clients’ interests, about their backgrounds, about their marketable skills, abilities, and attributes, and about their workplace liabilities as well.  Along the way, our clients learn what it takes to be a successful member of today’s dynamic workforce.  This assessment and training service requires our clients to attend training seminars in our offices, and requires a River City Employment Specialist to accompany our clients on trips into the community to gather information.  These community field trips can take the form of a home visit, visits with employers to gather information about potential jobs and their requirements, and will include what we refer to as a work site evaluation.  A work site evaluation is essentially simulated employment.  The Employment Specialist will learn how our clients react to workplace stressors, differing supervisory styles, stamina, and task progression or completion.  These field trips provide invaluable insight into our clients’ preparedness for competitive employment.

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICE PLAN 1 (SESP1)

Once the SEA profile has been completed and submitted to the TWC-VRS Counselor, our Employment Specialist prepares a labor market survey, or the SESP1.  This is another step in the planning process that involves us in gathering information about the neighborhood job market.  Which employers exist and what kind of jobs do they have?  If they don’t have the type of job we are looking for can we work with them to create, or carve one?

The attainment of this benchmark culminates with a meeting attended by our client, their representative(s) (frequently family members), the TWC-VRS Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC), and The River City Group Employment Specialist.  The fundamental purpose of this meeting is to finalize our employment goal and begin the job search.  Ultimately, this agreed upon occupational goal is one that our client wants, not us, not the VRC.  All job search activities, including applications and interviews, are coordinated by the River City Employment Specialist.  To ease the inherent anxiety associated with job search, a River City Employment Specialist will always accompany our clients to apply and/or interview for a job.

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICE PLAN 2 (SESP2)

The attainment of this benchmark is usually accompanied by something like “Yahoo! We got the job!”  Once we have a conditional job offer (background checks and drug screens can take additional time) we prepare a comprehensive report detailing what the job entails.  Physical requirements, cognitive requirements, social requirements, routine and episodic tasks, training plans, and environmental demands are all documented.  The employer and the TWC-VRS VRC verify the accuracy of this report, and it’s off to work.  When our clients begin their new job they do it with the security of knowing that we will be there with them.  River City’s role transforms to one of trainer, and eventually liaison.  A River City Job Skills Trainer (JST) will implement an agreed upon training plan, working one-to-one with our client until they become proficient with their job.  Receiving constant feedback from the employer is instrumental in assuring progress.  At some point our client, the employer, and the River City JST will all concur that the job skills training should be curtailed and natural supports should be allowed to germinate.  What are natural supports?  These are things most of us know to be an important part of workplace satisfaction and success. A supervisor that takes a little extra time to explain a new duty.  A coworker that watches out for our clients’ well being. Even a process that affords our client what is known as reasonable accommodation.  At the end of the day, the goal is for our client to be integrated into the social fabric of the work site as quickly and discreetly as possible.  This can only occur once our iPad toting staff members have assumed the role of observer.

Attainment of subsequent benchmarks, including: Job Maintenance 4 & 8 weeks, Job Stability, and ultimately Case Closure are predicated on integration, progress, and stability.  If at any point in this timeline our client, the employer, or the TWC-VRS VRC feels that things aren’t going as well as we had all hoped for, River City takes on the responsibility for getting things back on the right track.  This may include additional liaison work, additional job skills training, or even revisiting our original goals to see what might be improved.

When we close a Supported Employment case it is done with the certitude that our clients are flourishing in their jobs, and that they would prefer that we not pester them any more than necessary.  We do stay in touch by making periodic site visits or phone calls, and are always available should we be needed, but we realize that our clients deserve the opportunity to do it on their own.  That is after all, what this is all about.

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