AccessAbility has helped thousands of individuals with multiple barriers to employment and community inclusion achieve their vocational and community integration dreams. For decades, we have done this by addressing each person-served’s specific vocational and educational needs and interests, and helping them to create highly individualized case plans to help them navigate the behaviors, necessary skills, and attitudes expected of an employee in the work place. We also have strong partnerships with other agencies to help our persons-served address other barriers like access to housing, childcare resources, and, in particular, chemical dependency treatment.
In order to address chemical dependency issues, many individuals in AAI’s Career and Educational Pathways program needed to not only take time off gaining valuable work and educational skills on AccessAbility’s campus, but also needed to secure additional and time-consuming transportation. This resulted in individuals often needing to take many days off to attend treatment, which meant they were missing valuable hours of vocational and educational training and experience.
During the AccessAbility’s strategic planning meeting in the fall of 2017, Brad Janowski, Vice President of Programs and Business Development and head of Project Connect (PC)/Career and Educational Pathways (CEP) asked a question, “Why couldn’t AccesAbility provide substance abuse treatment right on AAI’s home campus?”
This would mitigate the need for persons-served to travel to different parts of the Twin Cities for treatment, and will allow for continued study of vocational and educational skills. With the help of Mark Groves, an AccessAbility, Inc. Board of Directors Member and a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Brad started the application process for a chemical dependency treatment license for AccessAbility’s PC and CEP programs.
As the final step in the application process, AccessAbility hired Brooks Waldron as the Director of Behavioral Health Programming in September 2018. Brooks will be responsible for the organization and implementation of chemical dependency treatment programming this year, and further on-campus expansion of behavior programming in the future. Brooks says that, like AccessAbility’s Project Connect employment and educational programming, the behavioral health programming will be “designed to not just help participants treat their substance abuse issues, but also to deal with patterns of thinking and values that would lead them to re-offend and recidivate. Ultimately, the goal of this programming is to help these individuals reduce their odds of criminal and substance abuse recidivism.”
Brooks comes to AccessAbility with a wealth of experience as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, years of experience working specifically with the ex-offender population, and years of experience creating and implementing cognitive rehabilitation treatment programs specifically for the ex-offender population. He will not only be responsible for the creation and direction of the program, but will also be the primary treatment provider in the early stages of its implementation. Brooks and Brad expect full licensure and implementation of programming by November 2018.
The availability of both comprehensive vocational and educational skills training and chemical dependency treatment programming will be a combination of programs that is not only unique to AccessAbility, Inc, but is a prime example of AccessAbility’s 70-year history of acclimating our programming and services to the changing needs of the community.