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Vocational rehabilitation available

POSTED: February 4, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The task of finding a job can, at times, be difficult and applicants are at the mercy of several different factors that determine employment including meeting qualifications and number of years of experience, to having a disability or a felony on their record.

  

Vocational Rehabilitation, a program under the Georgia Department of Labor, provides assistance in gaining employment to those who have a mental or physical disability, or substance abuse problem, that interferes with the individual’s ability to work.

  

Lynn Stewart is a vocational rehabilitation counselor who has been working as such for the past three years, and for the past year has been working in Dawson County once a week.

  

“It is my job to get people with a disability a job,” Stewart said.

  

In order to be eligible for the program, individuals must have a permanent physical or mental impairment, which hinders them from working, and the services provided by vocational rehabilitation must be necessary for the individual to prepare for, enter, engage in or keep gainful (paid) employment.

  

Even more important, the eligible individual must have the desire to work.

  

Services may include counseling and guidance, work adjustment training, on-the-job training, supported employment, job coaching, assistive technology, work readiness training, college and university instruction, vocational and technical training, school to work transition, physical and mental restoration services and referral to other agencies as needed.

  

Clients that Stewart works with range from high school students with spina bifada to an adult in the drug court treatment system.

  

“Every Tuesday I work at Dawson County High School for a few hours with students who are part of the transition program,” Stewart said. “This program is for anyone who is age 16 or older that is going to be transitioning from the academic world to the work world.”

  

The students in this program have an identified problem such as ADHD, deafness, blindness, schizophrenia, or any other various mental or physical health issues that present challenges in terms of employment.

  

If a student does not have an identified problem, the counselor will send them to medical professionals to determine what the problem is in order to know how to best help them.

  

“This not only helps me know how to help them, but it also aids teachers in knowing how to best teach that particular student,” Stewart said.

  

Along with her work at the high school, Stewart has recently begun working with referred clients from Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle, and Dawson County Treatment Court Coordinator and licensed counselor Bob King.

  

These clients have suffered or are suffering from substance abuse, and are either a part of King’s drug treatment program or are nonviolent offenders that have been arrested for trying to support their habits.

  

“The system of locking an inmate up and expecting that person to turn their life around once they get out of jail just doesn’t work,” said Carlisle. “Here in our county, we are making an effort to help these people turn their life around and become productive citizens again.”

  

“How to dress, how to put together a resume, how to do an interview, and anything else related to getting a job are all routine classroom type instruction that I can help with,” said Stewart.

  

In terms of working with Carlisle and King, Stewart says she “hopes to give people a second chance and to help them realize their valuable skills.”

  

According to King, participants in the drug treatment program are required to work 32 hours a week, but says “employment is one of the biggest roadblocks in the program.”

  

“The drug treatment program lasts 24 months in which the offender is monitored under a great amount of accountability and supervision,” said King.

For more information, contact Stewart at (770) 781-6791 or e-mail lynn.stewart@dol.state.ga.us.

  

E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at elizabeth@dawsonnews.com.

 

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