RCS Empowers, Inc.

RCS Empowers Partnerships Strengthen IPS Program

June 28, 2022

Individual Placement & Support (IPS) is an evidenced-based model that helps individuals with mental illness and/or Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse (AODA) disorders obtain and maintain competitive and inclusive employment and/or education of their choosing. This model is based on the philosophy that employment is a form of treatment and leads to improved recovery outcomes. When working, people with mental health and/or substance use disorders feel better about themselves as their employment/education improves so does their self-esteem, hope and life satisfaction. Through a continuum of support, IPS is more effective than other vocational approaches in helping such populations achieve their vocational goals. 

Employment Specialists who provide IPS services are employees of RCS Empowers but act as in-house contractors at Sheboygan County Health & Human Services (SCHHS). They have an office in the SCHHS building and are embedded into the clinical treatment teams, with shared decision making, to support the consumers goals and recovery journey. IPS is a unique model; it operates as a three-legged stool which includes RCS, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and Sheboygan County Health and Human Services. As with any three-legged stool, successfully carrying out the IPS model mission and purpose is not possible without all three legs bearing equal weight and working together to ensure proper support. DVR provides vocational expertise while Sheboygan County Health and Human Services provides expertise in the area of mental health and/or AODA. Although each leg of the stool has their own area of focus and expertise, each works in conjunction with one another to ensure strong service delivery to the consumers we serve.

RCS has been partnering with Sheboygan County Health & Human Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation since 2015, when the IPS program began in Sheboygan County, and the initial population served was adults receiving behavioral health support. In 2020, the program was able to expand to include services for people involved in Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court as well as youth receiving behavioral health support. As a result, two full time Employment Specialists were added to the team. 

In December 2021 the IPS team underwent an extensive Fidelity review and despite the challenges of the health pandemic, were found to have achieved Good Fidelity. Our IPS team has been recognized as a state and national leader for program outcomes such as quarterly employment rates, consumer satisfaction, collaboration with clinical treatment teams, provider of ongoing support and rapid and individualized service delivery.

IPS is a win-win for everyone, businesses gain productive and qualified employees, a more diverse workforce, and the support of vocational services. The community gains more residents who are confident, contributing members of society. The clinical treatment team sees an increase in goal achievement, recovery and less reliance on paid services/supports. 

RCS is appreciative of the unique team approach founded on a partnership between RCS Empowers, Sheboygan County Health & Humans Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). All consumers are offered the opportunity to receive valuable services and support from DVR in collaboration with their existing IPS and SCHHS services to ensure wrap-around services are taking place which allows for increased positive outcomes and goal achievement.

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