Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VocRehabVT)

Organization
Organization Name: 
Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VocRehabVT)
Organization Director: 
Renee Kievit-Kylar
Program Name: 
Jump on Board for Success (JOBS) Program
Street Address: 
103 South Main Street
City: 
Waterbury
State: 
VT
ZIP: 
05671-2303
Phone Number: 
(802) 241-4683
TTY: 
(802) 241-2186
Contact
Contact Person: 
Renee Kievit-Kylar
Contact Title: 
JOBS Program State Director
Program
Organization Profile: 

The Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VocRehabVT) promotes employment for people with disabilities through advocacy, partnerships with employers and service providers, and direct provision of services. Individuals direct their own progress and work with VocRehabVT staff to determine the services they need. Each person meets regularly with a trained vocational counselor to develop and realize their career goals. Services and supports include vocational assessments, training, vocational counseling and guidance, referrals to community partners, job-related equipment, job placement, on-the-job support, and other services designed to help people with disabilities find and maintain employment.

Program Summary: 

In partnership with the Vermont Departments of Corrections, Developmental and Mental Health Services/Division of Mental Health, and Children and Family Services, Jump on Board for Success (JOBS) is a supported-employment and intensive case management program of VocRehabVT that serves youth with severe emotional disabilities (SED). The JOBS Program focuses on providing employment and employment-related services to youth with SED.

To be eligible for enrollment in JOBS, an individual must be 16-21 years old, meet state guidelines for a severe emotional disability, and be out of school or seriously at risk for leaving school. JOBS youth must also show one or more of the following factors:

  • be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless,
  • have a history of court involvement,
  • have a history of involvement with the child welfare or foster care systems,
  • live in a residential facility or be at risk of out-of-home placement, or
  • receive Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Recent data on youth served by JOBS program show:

  • 70% had an Individualized Education Program in school,
  • 52% have problems with substance abuse,
  • 33% had been involved in foster care,
  • 27% had been involved with the juvenile justice system, and
  • 34% had been involved with the adult correctional system.
Program Structure/Design: 

The JOBS Program started in 1991 and received its name from a youth participant at the first program site, Washington County Mental Health in Montpelier, Vermont. The program began when staff recognized the unmet supported-employment needs of youth who were aging out of the children’s mental health system. To achieve successful employment outcomes, JOBS provides intensive case management services to meet other areas of need in a young person’s life, including assisting with court involvement and other legal issues, identifying safe and stable housing, connecting youth to mental health or substance abuse treatment, assuring access to educational advancement opportunities, and more.

Upon exiting the JOBS Program, successful participants have worked at least 90 days in competitive, employer-paid employment. The programs also focus on the participants achieving the following outcomes:

  • receive a high school diploma or GED;
  • obtain or maintain health insurance coverage;
  • access physical and mental health and substance abuse services as needed;
  • obtain and/or sustain safe and stable housing;
  • increase independent living skills; develop or maintain a stable connection to a mentor, family member, or other caring person; and
  • avoid new criminal charges and probation violations.
States of Operation: 
VT
ODEP Funded: 
No
Innovative Practices
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: 

The program uses connection to employment as a means to reach and engage youth who typically avoid traditional mental health services. Outreach to potential participants may be done in youth programs, juvenile courts and law enforcement agencies, and mental health service providers. Once engaged, JOBS staff work with the youth to determine other transition services the youth need to reduce employment obstacles, achieve their individual goals, and attain greater independence.

Services provided to program participants are similar to those in other vocational rehabilitation programs—intensive job development, job placement, and on- and off-site training support—what is different is the involvement of the various public and private agencies that support youth while they are involved. This collaboration strengthens supports and helps provide individualized services to meet targeted needs. JOBS staff also spend time educating employers and the business community to ensure that they have an honest, realistic understanding of the barriers faced by youth with SED and the benefits of employment as a solution. 

Youth Development and Leadership: 

VocRehabVT based the JOBS Program’s intensive case management system on the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) developed at the University of South Florida (for more information, visit http://tip.fmhi.usf.edu). The TIP system prepares youth with SED for transition to adulthood through an individualized process, engaging young people in their own futures-planning process, as well as providing developmentally appropriate services and supports. JOBS staff encourage youth to explore their interests and futures as related to each of the transition domains: employment and career, education, living situation, personal effectiveness/wellbeing, and community-life functioning. The TIP system utilizes seven guidelines that drive practice-level activities with young people and provides a framework for program and community systems to support and facilitate this effort:

  • Engage young people through relationship development, person-centered planning, and a focus on their futures.
  • Tailor services and supports to be accessible, coordinated, appealing, developmentally appropriate, and built on strengths to enable youth to pursue their goals across all transition domains.
  • Acknowledge and develop personal choice and social responsibility with young people.
  • Ensure a safety net of support by involving a young person’s parents, family members, and other informal and formal key players.
  • Enhance young persons’ competencies to assist them in achieving greater self-sufficiency and confidence.
  • Maintain an outcome focus in the TIP system at the young person, program, and community levels.
  • Involve young people, parents, and other community partners in the TIP system at the practice, program, and community levels.
Connecting Activities: 

Although employment is the primary focus of this program, JOBS recognizes that youth often need  other individualized services to ensure a successful transition into the workplace.  As noted earlier, these services can include help with  obtaining or maintaining health insurance coverage, accessing mental health and substance abuse services, securing  housing, and more.

Evidence of Success (Information and Analysis)
Systems Change: 

Youth ages 16-21 with SED often fall through cracks in available systems of care. Typically, these youth receive the label of “at risk” because they have an increased risk of involvement in the criminal justice system, being unemployed, dropping out of high school, early pregnancy, and using or abusing drugs and alcohol. To address these issues, Vermont state agencies partner with local youth programs and work together to meet the diverse needs of this hard-to-serve population.  The data indicate that the need for these services exists and is growing: in June 2008, 298 youth participated in the program. In June, 2009, that number increased to 400.   

JOBS is an emerging state practice that encourages providers from disparate systems (e.g., foster care, mental health, juvenile justice) to coordinate their services in an effort to successfully transition youth with SED into competitive employment. Another critical program practice is the partnership and collocation of mental health and VocRehabVT services, which provides support to youth during and following their involvement with the JOBS program. This strategy increases communication between service providers from different agencies and reduces the potential for youth to fall through the cracks that exist between systems.

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