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A few months into the new supported employment pilot program Boone County Family Resources is partnering on with Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), there have already been successes, and also lessons learned. The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program is an evidence-based program that helps put people interested in working into community jobs on a rapid timeline for achieving successful employment. In Missouri, the model has been effective in supporting people with mental illness. The BCFR pilot is testing the model in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Adults served by BCFR who want to work may be referred to VR, who offers informed choice of supported employment providers. If they choose IPS, rapid job search begins. Each participant works with a team, including their support coordinator and plan team, an employment specialist, and a VR counselor. The employment specialist knows employers and jobs in the community and can assist the individual in finding jobs that meet their interests, preferred hours and location. The employment specialist can assist with job applications, interviewing skills, learning job skills, handling job stress, cultivating natural supports, and planning for career development.
Back in November we profiled Bradley, who was the first person to enroll in the IPS program. Bradley has successfully been employed at Cheddar’s, where he landed a food prep job in October. He says he feels like he is part of the Cheddar’s family. “His supervisors have been supportive and his coworkers say hi to him even when he comes in just to eat,” says Rachel Murphy, Bradley’s Employment Specialist. “He loves what he does because it is what he has wanted to do since he was a child. He grew up with his mother making home cooked meals and that is what sparked his love of cooking.” In his job at Cheddar’s Bradley does food preparation and specifically makes Pot Pies, Pico de Gallo, and Spinach Dip among other things. Bradley’s manager says, “He helps make everyone more motivated because he is so happy to be in his position and he works very hard.”
“As soon as I started working with Brad, we hit the ground running looking at places he had an interest in. We worked together to determine where he would like to work,” says Rachel. “Cheddar’s has been an amazing employer. They work with not only Brad, but also with me to support Brad in being the best employee he can be. I’ve loved seeing him achieve his dream job and that all the hard work he has done has helped him reach his goal.”
Currently, there are 15 individuals participating in the IPS program. “We are hopeful the evidence-based principles of IPS will effectively apply to the people we serve,” says Mark Satterwhite, Director of Life & Work Connections. “Bradley’s success is rooted primarily in his enthusiasm for the work he’s doing and the place he’s working — but his team including his family, his support coordinator, his employment specialist, his VR counselor, and his natural supports on the job all contribute. So far, IPS is working for him!”