Finding Solutions for those in need

Sigourney, Iowa- Finding a job is arguably one of the most stressful and hardest tasks that any human may go through. The excitement of graduating from college wears off very quickly when the realization sets in that there are many bills to pay. For some, however, the challenge of finding a job can be much harder based on disabilities that they may have. For those struggling to find or maintain employment, there is now a service to help in that search. Jaime Claywell Herrera is a Rehabilitation Counselor with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services.


            “Vocational Rehabilitation Services is a state agency that works with students and adults that have a disability, helping them get out into the workforce. So we are looking for jobs that are integrated, meaning they are part of the community, and they have a competitive wage, which would be at least minimum wage. In the past, there’s been a lot of segregation where putting people with a disability all in one space but we are really trying to get people out so they would see people in their everyday life,” Claywell-Herrera said in a recent interview.


            Vocational Rehabilitation Services works with students starting at age 14 and are on an IEP (individualized education program). Vocational Rehabilitation Services does job exploration and work-based learning experiences. In addition, they work on self-advocacy with individuals and provide additional readiness skills training as needed.


            “We also reach out to employers. If we have a really good job candidate, we’ll contact an employer to tell them we have someone who might be a good fit and do what we call on the job trainings at times where we can pay part of their wage while they’re being trained,” Claywell-Herrera said.


            Claywell-Herrera said that she currently has around 110 clients in the three counties that she covers, which includes Keokuk, Davis, and Appanoose. She added that approximately 30 of those clients are from Keokuk County.


            “I think there are more clients with disabilities in the area that could use help finding employment,” she said.


            Claywell-Herrera added that many of the people who she currently works with are very significantly disabled, however there are other people that might be eligible for the program who do not utilize it.


            “I think what we are missing in Keokuk County are kind of the in between people that might have a barrier that’s making it hard for them to get employed, but they are not aware of the service. For people like that, they would just need to give me a call, then we could get services going. Not everyone that has a disability is eligible. It has to be a disability that affects their ability to obtain and maintain employment,” Claywell-Herrera said.


For more on this story and others, catch the July 18 edition of the News-Review.