Project Advance is Programs For People’s career placement program, designed to meet the needs of adults whose work lives or careers have been interrupted or delayed by mental health concerns. It provides them with the skills and supports necessary to seek and maintain employment and, above all, to locate an optimal job match. Clients appreciate the fact that they are given the option of either disclosing or not disclosing to a prospective employer that they are receiving services for mental health issues. Although clients frequently opt for an “undisclosed” placement due to the fear of being stigmatized, choosing a “disclosed” placement is advantageous because, should a problem arise on the job after the client has been hired, Project Advance staff is then in a position to be of immediate assistance to both the employer and the client, in order to try to resolve the problem and help the client to retain the job.
Services are reimbursed by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and supported by donations, and thus are available at no cost whatsoever to clients. Applicants must have demonstrated an interest in job placement or resumption of their careers. Experience and education range from entry-level to college graduates. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, have a diagnosis of mental illness, be actively receiving services from a licensed mental health clinician, and be able to benefit from vocational services.
Enrollment is subject to the approval of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission that requires applicants to first be placed on a 2-month wait list. However, during that time, those on the wait list are given the opportunity to attend a weekly seminar, Coaching for the Workplace, in which a wide range of work-related topics are addressed. At the end of the 2 months, following the Commission’s final authorization, applicants may utilize the full range of Project Advance services.
Project Advance services are provided in 3 components: Assessment, Skills Training, and Job Placement.
Outline of ServicesASSESSMENT
Project Advance’s Employment Advisory Board assists staff in locating appropriate jobs for clients. Representatives from MetroWest companies volunteer their time on the Board and meet monthly with the staff to be informed of clients actively seeking employment, generate suggestions for appropriate job matches, and help to identify job leads or companies that are actively recruiting employees.