New DOL Funded Program Helps Adults with Disabilities Find Employment

January 7, 2016

Breaking Barriers San Diego

A new program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund, Breaking Barriers San Diego (BBSD), assists individuals with disabilities with finding permanent part-time or full-time jobs of their choice.

The network of America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) sites, funded by San Diego Workforce Partnership, will offer customized job placement support based on individuals’ strengths, preferences and skills and an emphasis on starting the job search quickly.

BBSD serves adults with physical and mental disabilities or significant barriers to employment. Eligible participants must be currently unemployed, have a physical, developmental or mental disability, and meet one or more of the following:

  • Receive public assistance through CalWORKs, SSI or SSDI
  • Participate in services with the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)
  • Participate in county-funded mental health or alcohol and drug related services

BBSD, slated to begin services in mid-January, is based on an innovative evidence-based practice — the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment — which has shown positive and significant impact on employment for people with severe mental illness in studies over the past 20 years.

Using the practice principles of IPS, the BBSD program focuses on integrating services with referral partners to support employment outcomes, job development, benefits counseling, and long-term supports, among other components. Participants acquire part- or full-time competitive jobs of their choice in the community through rapid job-search and placement services.

IPS stands in contrast to other vocational rehabilitation approaches that employ people in sheltered workshops or jobs set aside for special populations.

A third party evaluator will be analyzing the effectiveness of BBSD services, and eligible participants will enroll in services through a randomized control trial. The results will help shape programs, policy and practices related to effective employment services for adults with disabilities and CalWORKs recipients.

Referrals to BBSD are accepted from welfare-to-work providers, DOR, substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, and community service providers. For more information, please contact a regional AJCC office.