Most people understand that IPS Supported Employment supports employment for people who have a serious mental illness. IPS stands for Individual Placement and Support. The goal is to support people in their efforts to achieve steady, meaningful employment in mainstream competitive jobs, either part-time or full-time. Most people, however, do not understand that Supported Employment practices zero exclusion. That simply means that employment is possible for all. Common concerns include:
· What if I have been diagnosed with a mental illness?
· What if I use drugs or alcohol?
· What if I have a criminal background?
· What if I already receive government assistance?
Actually none of these questions prevent a client from being employed. Zero Exclusion means that supported employment specialists work around barriers to support the person to receive the best job fit for individual interests and strengths. Employment specialists work with employers to find best shifts for clients who may suffer from sleep disorders, to provide strategies to increase productivity in employees who might work at a slow pace, and choose hours that are conducive to transportation for the client. These are just a few examples of how specialists meet client needs. Whatever the need, creativity and determination are used to make employment possible. Not only do specialists help clients find jobs; they help to keep employment.
Not all employers require drug testing and/or background checks. KRCC Supported Employment Specialists, John Hall and Amy Marshall, understand this. They spend sixty-five percent of their work week in the community meeting with clients and also getting to know businesses and potential employers. They tailor their approach to employment to best fit the needs of each individual. Substance use and criminal backgrounds are not barriers to employment if the client seeks positions with employers who do not require these checks. John and Amy understand how to guide clients so that success is achievable regardless of challenges.
Clients understand the importance of their benefits. Of course, they are uncomfortable with taking chances that could result in loss of income. Would you believe that persons who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) can make $1220 per month with no loss of benefits? That amount of income could improve lifestyles and help to overcome financial barriers for so many of our clients. Those who receive Social Security Insurance (SSI) also receive help with employment through the use of benefit analysis. These clients can earn $30,818 per year and still receive Medicaid. If the only income is from SSI and a job, SSI cash benefits to not stop until your paycheck reaches $1627 per month. Of course, each individual situation differs. If employment improves the client’s financial situation, employment is recommended. If not, employment is not recommended.
Clearly, everyone who wants to work-can work! With the assistance of KRCC’s Supported Employment Program, clients can improve their standard of living through employment while reaping other employment benefits such as increased self-esteem, use of strengths to help others, and waking up each day with something to look forward to!