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      Transitions expands job services thanks to grant

      Finding a job can be a difficult task, but finding the right job can be even tougher.

      That's not a problem for clients of Transitions of Western Illinois, however. The not-for-profit agency now has a way to help its clients with special needs avoid the hassle.

      Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services, Transitions now offers a program called Individual Placement Support to clients with mental illnesses that are seeking employment.

      "It's a program that's set up to be very individualized, to match potential employees interest to a job," said Alan Obert, Coordinator of Community-based Services at Transitions.

      Under the program, clients are assessed on job interests and skills. Clients then work with an employment specialist who helps place them in a job that matches their interests.

      "Our goal is to do rapid job placement, and then provide the supports necessary to help the individual be successful in that job," Obert said, noting that the program is designed to find clients a job within 30 days.

      The program can support up to 25 clients at a time. Even with the expansion, Transitions will continue to offer vocational training at its Community Rehabilitation Center on North 48th Street in Quincy.

      Transitions is the first agency in Adams County to offer the service. Although it's new to the area, the program has been implemented all over Illinois, and is supported by research out of Dartmouth College.

      Transitions Director of Development Barb Chapin says the program is very different from the vocational services currently offered, but she doesn't believe that will be an issue.

      "They (Dartmouth College) have indicated that this is a very successful model for people who have an emotional adjustment problem or a mental health issue. So I think the research shows that it should be a very successful program," Chapin said.

      Transitions wasted no time getting started - the agency has already matched 2 clients with jobs. Obert says it's an invaluable service to those who seek support at Transitions.

      "Having a job, having something to get up every day and go to is vital in the recovery, and this creates the opportunity to help people move along in their recovery. I am extremely passionate about this program and can see the benefit to our consumers," he said.

      "We're excited that we got the grant and excited that we can provide this service to people who perhaps would not have participated in any other of our vocational services," Chapin added.

      The grant allows Transitions to run the program for one year. After that, the agency will offer it by entering into an ongoing contract with the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services.

      It's just one more way to help Transitions meet the goal of helping those in need.