Making it Happen
“Let's think about really what is going to make you happy. What is going to make you excited to get out and work every day and go, maybe even when it's like 10 below.“ That’s how Wendy Druckemiller describes how she approached one aspect of her work in mental health as an employment consultant. Before supported employment came to the fore, Roberta Stafford says her role as a vocational rehabilitation counselor had been to tell clients, "You have this disability. Here's the kind of job you can have." In the new model however, "they're the person driving the process."
Supports vary with the needs of the individual and their stage in the job-seeking process. Interviewees explain their work as entailing a broad range of services, from skills assessment, to job development, to resumes and interviewing, to using the bus system, behind-the-scenes job coaching, and facilitating communication between individual and employer.
In the 1990s, Karen Scherer says businesses were receptive to job development due to low unemployment rates and, because of the new Americans with Disabilities Act, you could “talk to employers about restructuring and about accommodations and essential functions of the job.” “It was very successful, very successful at that time.”
At the Morgan County Rehabilitation Center in Martinsville, Karen Scherer transitioned from using a job-readiness model (“we would teach them how to measure and how to tie their shoes”) to become coordinator for a supported employment grant in 1986. Karen Scherer clip >
Wendy Druckemiller describes the specific tasks involved in her support of people at a mental health center in Bloomington who “have a physical, a mental or emotional barrier to employment” and are in various stages of the job-seeking process. Wendy Druckemiller clip >
Cori Mitchell talks about enjoying her longtime movie theater job and other positive outcomes of employment supports, such as the employer’s accommodations for a brain injury she acquired in 1987. Cori Mitchell clip >