State Partnership Earns National Award


The Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation Springfield North District Office and Alternative Opportunities (AO) have been recognized for their joint work in increasing job opportunities for adults with mental illnesses.

The National 2015 Achievement Award from Johnson & Johnson Dartmouth Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Learning Community recognizes work to improve access to evidence-based supported employment for those with serious mental illnesses who are interested in improving their work lives.

“It is great to see such a collaborative effort between agencies,” said Jeanne Loyd, assistant commissioner for the office of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation Services. “We are making a difference for adults seeking to improve their lives through work.”

Alternative opportunities, a community rehabilitation provider, is headquartered in Springfield and was the first Comprehensive Substance Treatment and Rehabilitation (CSTAR) program in Missouri to implement placement services. AO was recognized for showing the most "significant improvement" in the number of people who receive high quality IPS supported employment services and are working in competitive jobs. Participants in the program are women receiving mental health and addiction services through the assistance of Medicaid or their local drug court.

Vocational Rehabilitation and the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) collaborate to provide the necessary tools and training to assist programs like AO increase access for individuals in treatment services to progressive employment opportunities in the community. Employment is an essential element leading to recovery from mental illness and addictions. The VR Springfield North district office staff and AO employment specialists developed and streamlined services for women and partnering employers.

Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education program that receives state and federal funds to assist eligible individuals with disabilities obtain and maintain employment. DBH is responsible for prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation services which are available for individuals and families needing public mental health services throughout Missouri.