Like many high school seniors, Jacob began looking for his first job after graduation. With significant challenges related to expressive language and overall social skills, he was left with limited options. While working with vocational service providers like Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) he received feedback that he did not take initiative and was withdrawn from others. After multiple rounds with VR his case was closed being told he was not appropriate for community employment at that time. These road blocks did not deter Jacob’s drive to find employment.
In December 2019 at a plan meeting with his Boone County Family Resources (BCFR) Support Coordinator, Susan, Jacob advocated for himself and expressed that he really wanted to work. Susan immediately referred him to the Individualized Placement and Support (IPS) Program through Life and Work Connections, which is a zero exclusion program. Entering this program meant Jacob could not be told that he didn’t have the skills needed to be employed in the community. Within a matter of months, Jacob obtained his first job at Culver’s restaurant.
Now four months later, Jacob continues to thrive at Culver’s and provide quality work.
Jacob’s dad, Raymond, is proud of his accomplishments and said, “We always wondered if he’d ever be able to have a job. His (Culver’s) supervisors are pretty happy with him. They like the job that he does and it gives him a sense of pride.”
Jacob has been with Susan at BCFR since December of 2014 when the family moved from the St. Louis area. He is a recipient of Central MO Autism Project (CMAP) services and works with Easter Seals. His family is grateful to have Susan who continues to provide support for Jacob in all aspects of his life.
“When Jacob was in school she was an advocate. She would come meet with him, talk with him and just get to know him so she could pull in people who can help him. Not just in finding a job, but how to be successful in life,” said Raymond. “Even as he’s working, trying to find ways he can get transportation on his own. She’s been very good working with him, working with us to find the right supports to be successful.”
After Susan referred Jacob to the IPS program, it took only 2 months for him to find a job that was a good fit. BCFR Community Employment Specialist Margo was aware of the challenges he had faced up to that point but was encouraged by his unwavering motivation to earn a paycheck.
“He was told by other programs he wasn’t ready for work,” said Margo. “But Jacob was sure that he wanted to work, and knew he wanted to do something with food because he likes to eat.”
Margo and Community Skills Specialist, Grant, started off meeting weekly with Jacob to prepare him for work — setting up email, practicing interview skills, and other basic necessities to finding employment in the community. Focusing on his love of food, the IPS team quickly found the right fit with Culver’s. After working on interview skills and building a resume, Jacob was able to secure his first job.
“We focused on his passions and were able to connect him to a good employer who wanted to invest in him and develop his strengths,” said Margo. “He had a quick turnaround in finding employment, it came down to his enthusiasm for wanting to find a job. It’s amazing what someone can do when given the chance.”
Raymond said he rarely sees Jacob smile, but when he has his check he’ll smile about it. He enjoys opening it up and seeing the dollar amount.
“He feels more confident in himself,” said Raymond. “It was important for him, for us, and for others to see that he has been doing this successfully. I’ve seen him, who has greater struggles, succeed. And that gives everyone hope.”
Jacob is the epitome of what can happen if you believe in yourself and continue to persevere even when the goals seem unsurmountable. His Support Coordinator, Susan, and the IPS team will to continue to follow him as needed to make sure his employment support needs are met now, and in the future.