OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2009

In Support of Rapid Job Placement

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness month, Wright State University’s (WSU) Substance Abuse Resources and Disability Issues (SARDI) program is highlighting the success of an individual who participated in the Consumer Advocacy Model (CAM) program.

Consumer Advocacy Model

The Consumer Advocacy Model (CAM), program is a unique outpatient dual disorder treatment program developed by WSU to connect individuals with alcohol, drug or mental health problems, especially persons with disabilities, to competitive employment. CAM works to improve their lives by incorporating research into a treatment and rehabilitation philosophy that values consumer participation and choice in all aspects of recovery activities. CAM’s philosophy is that successful employment is a necessary ingredient in recovery for most people. CAM offers individuals the opportunity to become involved in a supported employment project known as the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) intervention project.

Individual Placement and Support

IPS employs a rapid job placement model for its consumers. Employment services offered are designed to assist individuals with disabilities and coexisting substance abuse disorders to become gainfully employed in an integrated community work setting. The IPS model uses research-based principles for successful vocational rehabilitation strategies to ensure the quick placement of consumers in paid, competitive jobs according to their career preference. It also provides ongoing support following job placement to ensure job stability. CAM is currently conducting a research project based on this model of service.

A Journey to Employment and Self Sufficiency

Tom Smith* was released from prison in 2007 after serving 14 years. He was 46-years old at this time, and entered into the CAM program immediately upon his release as part of his parole requirement. Tom was compromised with extreme anxiety and depression upon release, exacerbated by feelings of hypervigilance given his environment for the last 14 years. He was also concerned about a return to drinking alcohol. He recognized his need to become productive and prove to himself and his family that he was focused on making life changes.

Tom began working with his counselor, employment specialist, and psychiatrist to begin his journey. Through rapid job placement he began working at a local restaurant, which was his “dream job.” Tom’s employment specialist worked with him to address anxiety and stress reduction on the job. This was accomplished by taking small breaks, learning how to communicate with his supervisor, focusing on small tasks, and addressing errors in his thought processing. This was a part of the job coaching process. Through cognitive behavioral therapy with his counselor, and medication management with psychiatry, Tom has now been employed for two years. He has advanced to food preparation at the restaurant and is working an average of 30 hours per week. Tom’s drive to make positive life changes and reach his goal of maintaining gainful employment has allowed him to pay a portion of his rent, save money to visit relatives in another state, obtain his driver’s license and participate in a local canoeing club in the area.

Tom has experienced amazing changes in his life since walking out of prison, where he once felt incredibly alone. “I feel like I am finally contributing something,” he has said. Having seen him commit to a positive lifestyle, his family has become increasingly supportive. He is proof that the ongoing support and advocacy of the IPS model, in coordination with commitment for change, can make a difference.

(*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of those within this article)

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The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Last Modified: 10/21/2009