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Improving Lives through Employment

The goal of this presentation is to educate stakeholders on the evidence-based practice model of Supported Employmentcalled Individual Placement and Support [IPS], and to promote IPS as a core mental health service within managed care.  We will also share “enhancements” that have been added to the IPS model here in Illinois that have improved local service delivery and integration of the model.  IPS is proven through research to be the most effective approach to helping individuals with serious mental illnesses to return to the workforce;with the goal being the attainment and maintenance of a competitive, preference-based job within the community.

In the second half of the presentation the focus will shift to an overview of the ADA’s employment provisions for applicants and employees with mental health disabilities, including its rules regarding disability disclosure, reasonable accommodations and disability-related inquiries. We will discuss the law and give examples of relevant recent cases.

Presentation Bios

Debbie Homan is an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) trainer with the Illinois Division of Mental Health has worked in the mental health field for 13 years. For 9 of those years, she worked as an IPS Supported Employment Specialist with Thresholds, a Community Mental Health Center in Chicago. She believes that work and employment have been a powerful force in her mental health recovery. Debbie received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University.  Except for a brief 6-month period, she has been working full time since her college graduation. Debbie helps to educate the public that Treatment Works, and recovery from a serious mental illness is not only possible – but probable.  She lives with her husband Steve in the Chicagoland area.

 Matt Christensenis an IPS Trainer with the Illinois Division of Mental Health. He has over 20 years of mental health work experience. Matt has worked on clinical case management teams, Williams-Colbert decree initiatives, and vocational programming. Of these 20 years of mental health experience, 10 have been devoted to IPS service delivery and program management. Matt currently provides IPS education and technical training to mental health providers in Cook, DuPage, Will, and Kankakee counties in Illinois.

Barry Taylor is the VP for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation Equip for Equality, the Illinois Protection and Advocacy system, where has worked since 1996. At Equip for Equality he supervises the legal services, self-advocacy and training programs. Taylor has overseen many successful ADA suits including against the National Board of Medical Examiners, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Transit Authority, and he is currently co-counsel in five class actions, including two on behalf of people with mental illness living in large private institutions who are seeking community services. Taylor has given numerous presentations on the ADA across the country to people with disabilities, family members, attorneys, employers, businesses, service providers and advocacy organizations. Equip for Equality receives funding from Great Lakes ADA Center to provide training and educational materials on emerging ADA legal issues, and also coordinates the Illinois ADA Project, which provides free training and technical assistance to all ADA stakeholders. Previously, he was an AIDS Project attorney for Lambda Legal and a litigation associate at the Chicago law firm of Peterson & Ross. Taylor is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law.

Hannah Walsh is the Staff Attorney for the Employment Rights Helpline at Equip for Equality. She represents clients in disability discrimination cases under Titles I of the ADA and analogous state and local laws. Hannah works on EFE’s Employment Rights Helpline, which aims to expand employment opportunities by providing legal and practical advice to applicants and individuals with disabilities. In addition to assisting clients, Hannah provides trainings on ADA employment rights for communities of people with disabilities, service providers and employers. Hannah also manages the Employment Rights Helpline’s pro bono network. Prior to Equip for Equality, Hannah worked at a plaintiff’s employment firm, handling litigation on a wide variety of discrimination issues in state and federal court. Before law school, Hannah obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Deaf Studies at California State University Northridge and worked as a Support Service Provider for individuals with combined hearing and vision disabilities. While obtaining her law degree at Chicago-Kent, Hannah was a PILI intern with EFE and a law clerk in the Disability Rights Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office.

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