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SKIL helps disabled workers find and keep jobs

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- By Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker

Securing and keeping a job can be a struggle for many people with disabilities. Tara Malone and SKIL are trying to make that process a little easier. Malone is the organization’s Vocational Rehab and Job Placement Specialist.

The vocational rehab program is in place to provide would-be workers the tools they need to find a job and be successful in it.

Candidates for the program have to first meet with the Department of Children and Families. “Candidates will do some testing to determine what types of jobs they desire and what would be realistic for them,” explains Malone.

Then, once a candidate is approved, they are referred to SKIL. “Once a customer is sent to SKIL, we review their files to see if we would be interested in assisting them,” says Malone. “But really, we pretty much accept everyone.”

Malone says the first thing she does is to draft an action plan. This entails the customer’s goals regarding the job they are seeking and how many hours they will be available to work.

Most participants in the program fall into the category of “supported employment,” which means Malone or another worker will meet with them regularly and visit their place of employment. This ensures the customer is meeting their goals and also determines whether or not they need any sort of assistive devices. Additionally, most customers are provided with a worker to assist them on their job site.

“There is no end date to the program, which is nice,” says Malone. “This means they will have the worker assisting them for an unspecified amount of time. It could be six months, it could be a year.” According to Malone, once the employee is stabilized and feels comfortable in their position, the assisting worker will accompany them with less frequency.

Sometimes employers can opt for a job tryout. This means they can employ the customer temporarily at minimum wage (paid by DCF) to determine whether the customer is a suitable fit for the position. However, most participants in the program are hired outright by the employers. Some employers who have participated in are Sonic Drive-In, Taco Mayo, and Lincoln School in Parsons.

Anyone interested in the program or seeking more information can contact either Tara Malone or Dillon Warren at the Parsons SKIL office at (620) 421-5502.