Supported Employment – Promoting Integration into the Community
“It’s not a destination; it’s part of the recovery process.”
That’s how Rose Woodfin, ShelterCare’s Supported Employment Program (SEP) specialist describes the value for ShelterCare’s clients of seeking and holding jobs. Funded with a federal grant, SEP plays a crucial role in assisting clients with little or poor employment histories return to the work force and financial stability. “Our goal is to see our clients get and keep a job,” explains Rose. “And keeping a job is rougher than getting one.” With her case load at the maximum of 20 clients, Rose hustles through job fairs, business open houses, Facebook, and Lane County’s WorkSource, as well as newspaper and other advertisements to find suitable opportunities to match a range of skills. Approximately one fifth of the clients have some or complete college educations. The majority seek entry level jobs that will enable them to work part-time. Once they’re employed, Rose keeps in touch, working with the employer
and employee to make sure communication is clear and expectations are met. To begin, Rose interviews clients about what they like to do and what experience they’ve had. “We work on the Sanctuary Model, which means that our work is all client-driven.”
For example, one client loves walking her dog – so Rose set out to consult with pet groomers and pet stores. Another loves the quiet and control of driving a taxi, and now works a graveyard shift in his own cab. This is stigma-busting at its best. “A lot of people think that our clients are too sick with mental illness to be employed,” says Rose. “But schizophrenic patients are often my best outcome – the work gives them grounding and structure.” Clients face more obstacles than stigmas, of course. They may come to SEP with criminal records, with a history of drug addiction, or with long, unexplained gaps in their work histories. “SEP is open to all,” explains Rose. “We meet them we’re
they’re at, and we try to change the What if to how can we solve it?”
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