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Grant funding will help hundreds of Johnson County individuals with disabilities secure competitive employment

After being awarded a combined more than $2 million in grant funding, Johnson County Developmental Supports and Johnson County Mental Health will be able to help secure competitive employment for a goal of 320 individuals served by either agency over the next five years. Both agencies have received an End-Dependence Grant from the Kansas Rehabilitation Services division of the Kansas Department for Children and Family Services.

Both JCDS and JCMH will use these grants to improve competitive employment outcomes for Johnson County individuals with disabilities. The target population will be adults served by JCDS or JCMH and require Supported Employment Services to obtain and maintain employment.

The JCDS grant provides 100 percent funding for four employment specialist positions and the grant for JCMH provides 100 percent funding for two full-time vocational counselors, one part-time vocational counselor and one part-time peer support specialist.

“Nationally, unemployment for adults with severe mental illness is estimated at more than 85 percent,” says Tim DeWeese, executive director, Johnson County Mental Health. “Our Vocational Services team receives daily requests from our clients who want to work in the community. We are thrilled this grant will allow us to help an additional 200 clients find work.”

“The End-Dependence grant will allow JCDS to expand our Progressive Employment model which creates temporary-to-permanent work experiences that break down barriers to employment for some of the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities we serve,” said Chad VonAhnen, executive director, Johnson County Developmental Supports. “We strongly encourage our clients to consider working in the community to increase their level of dependence and self-sufficiency, and are thankful for this grant that will help us with our mission.”

The Kansas Department for Children and Family Services announced this program October, 2014. The goal of the $25 million investment for the state of Kansas is to help 2,000 Kansans secure community employment.