Montana was chosen as a targeted community through the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center: Targeted Communities (VR-TAC-TC) or Project E3. Project E3 partnered with State VR Agencies and local community partners to improve outreach and employment-related services to underserved people with disabilities in this community.
Montana’s beautiful landscape includes forests, prairies, highlands, and valleys. It includes the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide in the western part of the state and rolling plains in the eastern part of the state. Two-thirds of Montana is in the Great Plains.
Montana’s economy is primarily based on agriculture, including ranching and cereal grain farming. Other significant economic activities include oil, gas, coal and hard rock mining, lumber, and the fastest-growing sector, tourism. Health care, service, and government sectors are also significant to the state’s economy. In 2011,Montana ranked third in the nation in number of craft breweries per capita.
The population in Montana is distributed over a large geographic area. Montanians living in rural areas face unique challenges to both accessing services and finding employment. These challenges are compounded for those living with disability and poverty.
The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system in Montana faced many challenges as it strove to serve people with significant disabilities and promote competitive integrated employment. Project E3 provided intensive technical assistance to two regions of the state:
NATIVE AMERICAN POPULATION
BIG HORN COUNTY
BLACKFEET INDIAN RESERVATION
Home to the Blackfeet Nation
- Located in Glacier County
- One of the 10 largest tribes in the United States
National rate = 12.8%
National rate = 4.4%
National rate = 13.5%
VR CASE CLOSURE
National rate = 31%
State rate = 29%
Within the targeted communities, Project E3 focused on improving vocational rehabilitation service outcomes for these populations:
These populations were characterized as:
Primary Challenges for Targeted Populations
The combination of the challenges above and other factors created significant barriers for persons with disabilities living in Montana, including:
Key Strategies to Address Barriers
Following are some of the key strategies developed and implemented to address the targeted populations’ challenges and barriers to employment.
- Benefits Counseling: Provided information on Social Security program rules and how employment impacts benefits. The goal was to help people make informed choices about employment.
- Financial Literacy Training: Supported people to develop skills and knowledge about personal money management and help them develop a plan for their financial future.
- Employability Skills Training: Increased participants’ ability to work with others and function socially. Taught participants how to adjust to workplace expectations, including written and unwritten rules and social norms.
- Counselor Motivational Interviewing (MI) Training:Provided opportunities for vocational rehabilitation counselors to access training on Motivational Interviewing. Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based counseling method used to help people resolve ambivalence and develop internal motivation to change behavior.
- Job clubs: Job clubs gave job seekers the chance to meet and share information about the job search, the application process, and interviews. Participants practiced their job and social skills with one another to gain skills and confidence.
Project E3 provided Montana’s state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and their partners with the skills and competencies needed to effectively and efficiently address barriers to competitive integrated employment and community integration encountered by persons with disabilities in these regions.
Our specific goals for this project were to:
We will leverage promising practices, knowledge, and experience gained from this project to expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities from underserved and economically disadvantaged populations throughout Montana and across the United States.
Montana Overview PowerPoint Presentation
For further information about the Montana community activities: