More in News
Rural Employment Network receives Vocational Accreditation
RUMFORD- Rural Employment Network (REN), an affiliate of Hope Association, was recently awarded a three-year state of Maine vocational accreditation.
What does this mean for individuals and businesses throughout western Maine?
REN works with their clients on a fee for service program by training them to go out into the workforce and sustain a position. Clients are referred to REN by case managers, teachers and family members for vocational rehabilitation.
Clients may apply as young as the end of their sophomore year of high school and the beginning of their junior year. Any student needing extra support is welcome to apply for the Individual Education Plan (IEP), but should be referred to by their school.
REN serves clients throughout Oxford, Franklin and Androscoggin counties. They work with adults and students, often times, they have some sort of disability, loss of job to a medical issue, etc.
REN works to educate the client in their choice of employment. They help them to create a routine for their work schedule, set up job shadows, conduct aptitude tests, etc.
“It’s important for us to get as many businesses in the community to open their doors,” stated Catherine Johnson, Executive Director of Hope Association.
Clients are offered work trials throughout the area, along with a client supervisor.
“We know it’s scary for employers, but we pay them,” stated Supported Employment Director for REN, Vickie Morton. “It gives clients a place to go and a job to do. Every person has a different plan that comes through the door. “
Employers may be thinking what’s in it for them. REN wants you to understand that clients aren’t necessarily looking for a 40-hour position, a couple hours here and there would be great to start. Jobs such as cleaning, maintenance, filing, etc.
“These clients can be groomed to what the business wants,” stated Morton. “We have clients who have had great success at variety stores as cashiers, performing light maintenance, and they are supervised.”
Clients are screened at no cost to the business, any employer who hires a disabled person receives a tax credit, REN pays a percentage of their wages, and provides a job coach; there is no cost to the employer. Employers can carve a job to fit the individual.
“Wal Mart has been so open to working with us, as well as Sunday River, Mattehorn, and even RSU 10 throughout the summer,” stated Morton.
“It enables employees and employers to have a balanced job match for 30 days. it’s a win, win,” noted Johnson.
The biggest challenge for REN clients is transportation. They usually work with Western Maine Transportation and Community Concepts, who, according to Morton, have been very accommodating.
“When a client works for $6 an hour, they just cannot afford to transport themselves,” stated Morton. REN even helps the individual get their license.
Clients stay with REN until they get what they want in a job and then they go out on their own.
Vocational rehab is available with a support coach and pays up to 90 days.
“It’s a bonus for businesses,” stated Johnson. “It’s another community resource to support our businesses, and it’ providing self worth to our clients.”
There are no waiting lists for vocational services. REN also works closely with career centers. They’ve been able to place clients with disabilities such as deafness, blindness, amputees and others.
For more information, please contact Vickie Morton, Supported Employment Director, by calling 364-1125 or email email@example.com.