Pictured (left to right): Frankie Thamert, Clinical Supervisor for CHD, and Troy Davis, Supported Employment Specialist with CHD, holding the Oregon Supported Employment Center for Excellence Award
The Center for Human Development, Inc. (CHD) is pleased to announce a recent award from the Oregon Supported Employment Center for Excellence
What is Supported Employment? Simply put, Supported Employment is a program that helps integrate mental health citizens back into the workforce. The program was developed through the collaborative efforts of Dartmouth College and the charitable and humanitarian efforts of Johnson and Johnson, with very deliberate and specific methods for implementation. To begin, a therapist first has to determine that employment is medically necessary for the well-being of the client. “The idea is that working gives a client a sense of self-accomplishment, and satisfaction, and even though it is nice to earn money, the structure of a work environment may be paramount to the client’s treatment’, said Troy Davis, Supported Employment Specialist with CHD.
What does a Supported Employment Specialist Do? An employment specialist helps facilitate job placement and retention. The process starts by developing a vocational profile with the client, including the client’s skills and interests. Next, an Employment Plan is put together for pursuing work. The Employment Plan is focused around the client’s unique attributes and capabilities. The plan is used to support the person in preparing to enter the job market on a competitive level. With the aid of the program the client is able to compete with the average citizen to obtain and retain gainful employment. The plan is used, and altered, as necessary to insure long-term employment. In some cases the specialist meets with prospective employers that might discover a mutually beneficial match for the client and the employer. And, there is rigorous prep work. The client and the specialist work together with other community resources, such as the Oregon Work-Source office and TEC services, where they complete the I-Match Skills, build a resume, fill out job applications and utilize other services as needed. They may also access the Department of Human Services (DHS) Vocational Rehabilitation program. The specialist can even help with role-playing job interviews. Once a job is obtained, the specialist is still available, to assist the client with training in the new position, or, to check in periodically to see how the transition is going and to see that the client and employer are both satisfied with work performance. Although the program is client centered, there can be profound benefits for employers too. Skilled employees often want to work for different reasons other than just a paycheck; they often desire to be a productive tax paying member of society which can provide a sense of positive self-regard. It is known throughout the program that many of the clients become long tenured which, as any employer will say, is of great importance when considering the costs associated with training new employees and staff turnover.
Community Partnerships: One of the fears for clients returning to the job market is that they will lose certain benefits, such as social security and food stamps. To educate them, the client receives benefits counseling (Social Security, food stamps) from both the Work Incentive Network (a statewide agency with offices in Pendleton and Ontario), and from the Eastern Oregon Council for Independent Living (also in Pendleton and Ontario), so they know exactly how their benefits will be affected. Other community partners include Vocational Rehabilitation of the Department of Human Services (DHS) which helps clients overcome physical or behavioral barriers to employment. The supported employment program refers clients to these agencies and facilitates meetings to provide the best holistic support for people to become more self-reliant.
The client and employer, it turns out, are not the only ones reaping benefits from the program. Troy Davis shared the pleasant rewards of his position as the Employment Specialist. “Sometimes we forget that there are past life experiences that our clients have had including histories of profound work achievement! It is my pleasure to introduce those skills back to the workforce”, said Davis.
For more information about this program contact Troy Davis at the CHD office, (541) 962-8899. To learn more about the many services provided by CHD to the communities of Union County, please visit the CHD website at www.chdinc.org or call (541) 523-8800.