Episode #89 Interview with Transition Counselor, Jeremy Hobbs, with South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD)

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Jeremy Hobbs is a transition counselor at South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department. He has served the transition population for the last 6 years. Before working at SCVRD, he worked with the Project Hope Foundation as a Line Therapist providing ABA therapy to students with Autism. The SCVRD in Seneca, SC is located at 1951 Wells Hwy Seneca SC 29678 and they serve both Oconee and Pickens counties. Please visit scvrd.net for more information.

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Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we have another very special guest for you. We have Mr. Jeremy Hobbs. He's with the South Carolina vocational rehabilitation department here in our state. Jeremy, welcome to the show. Thank you for taking time to be here today.

I'm glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Thanks for being here, Jeremy. Um, so you're with the South Carolina vocational rehabilitation department. Can you talk a little bit about what that is some of the services that are offered and then kind of like what your role is specifically.

Okay, so I've been with voc rehab for about five years now going on six, really enjoy it. Our program is designed to help eligible South Carolinians with disabilities find competitive employment. That's our main objective. We're trying to help them find jobs, get it, you know, get into something that they're interested in. Particularly, what I do is I work with the transition age students, that's someone that's 14 through 21. That's in a school setting. Here in Oconee. County, my office serves both Oconee County and Pickens County students. And we have a counselor that serves Pickens County. And then we also have other counselors that fall into, you know, different different in ages and things like that. Also serve the adult ed population. So I may get somebody that's over 21. But that's just covering that for our case for our office. But we do have like a mental health caseload that deals with individuals that have maybe have that need or medical need probation and parole, we also help with that we help veterans, so any anybody with a disability, and when I say disability, it can be anything from like alcohol addiction to you know, somebody that may be a paraplegic, or you know, have a physical disability or autism, anything, as long as it's the medical medically diagnosed, either by you know, a psychiatrist or doctor, we can use those to make them eligible with it as long as it's documented within the last year. So, as I said, the main objective, what we do is just, you know, through counseling and through our services, we help the individual find a job that they're interested in.

Out there, Jeremy, I know not all agencies have this statewide, but you guys are lucky in that you have an actual training facility, located there in Seneca, give us a little overview about how that works. And you know, what clients can expect coming into VR?

Okay, so generally, when you start a case, with VR, you go through the survey thing, anybody can apply for VR services. So we're open to all applicants. And then when we go through that survey process, we make sure that you're eligible and all that, once you've been made eligible, we pick out a job goal. And then we put you in what is called plan, individualized plan of employment IP. And during that when you get all the services told to you, and as you were saying, Mr. Owens is, is that we have the training center at our facilities located off Wales highway, and there's other training centers around the entire state as well. So there's there's actual sub off multiple offices throughout the state. So when you go to our website, you can see where there's offices are in participate in that. So when you come to the word Training Center, generally those training centers have work contracted to them, based on the surrounding work that's provided in that community. Most of our stuff that we do is manufacturing because in Oconee, county and Pickens County, there's a lot of manufacturing plants around here. So we've done stuff for Electrolux, we've done stuff for Greenfield, which they make drill bits, we do stuff, we've done everything from already car parts to pick gaskets, any kind of business and they contract the workout to us. And then when you're a consumer, you have the capability of coming in and working in the training center and getting paid for that. Now one, one key aspect to note about that is if you are somebody that is receiving SSI or SSDI, it's good for you because it's just considered a training stipend. So you don't have to worry about it affecting your benefits or anything like that. But it's just an added benefit for you guys to come in and get training. And right now we're actually working on the standards, because we're kind of changing them to reflect the modern day's work world. And so those seven standards we're looking at right now is you know, being on time properly dressed, quality, safety, production, working well with others and working well with supervisors, those standards that apply to any job Um, so we're looking at some computer based stuff now, because there's a lot of stuff that deals with computers. So we may that may add a technology portion and different things like that. So

awesome. I'm gonna throw kind of like a curveball question. Okay, anyway, a little bit, I'm curious what you think on this, a lot of our listeners are, do have younger kids, or maybe like preteen, kind of like right before that 14 to 21 year old age. And I'm kind of curious if you know of anything that they can begin to begin to do, as they approach those ages to sort of proactively get ready for receiving support from VR, just

for sure. Generally, in our area, we have what is called a career specialist position within the schools, they hire those both in the middle school level and high school level. Those are supposed to be your, the person that you can go for the resources in your community, they also had to get that that GE that's I forget what that title is, you know, that acronym that global something specialist, business specialists thing that helps them with career development, and different things like that, but they should be able to provide them with the tools and things they need. Now, there's like, April, South Carolina, they do stuff with with with different individuals. And generally, we try to the youngest that we we participate in with is generally 14 to get them in a case. Now, I guess we could go in and do some what we call pre its pre employment transition services with them. If if a teacher administrator whoever wanted us to go into the school, and teach a lesson on something, because we also have to provide lessons to non consumers as well as consumers. So we're constantly trying to make contact and get them in the mindset of you'll have to go to work one day, or do something. So.

So you guys really kick it off, in in a school setting with career development, and that education component, and then you offer hands on experience there, as they reach that transitional age, to be able to work either at the training facility, and then offering assistance as well with placement in the community. Is that right?

Yes. So we have job search and job placement. We're very fortunate in our office that our business development specialist is the mayor. So he's got a lot of connections with the community. And he also works closely with Pickens County. So we have a lot of connections with businesses and things like that. And some other services generally, in my field, we have five services that automatically populate, we're helping them develop self advocacy, we want them to participate in work based learning experiences. And those experiences allow them to go on to a job get up to 20 hours a week, 240 hours total under a certain job title, it doesn't necessarily have to match up with their videos, they can use it to gain experience, and something else they may be interested in and never knew what it was going to be like. And they can use it as Oh, I'm never going to do that. That was terrible. But you know, we've had those we have counseling on post secondary stuff and want to help them project into the future. Not you know, just think about now we want to look at that. We want to help them search for jobs, help them with that kind of stuff. And we want to help them develop their skills, like their job seeking skills, independent living skills, all that stuff that pertains to, you know, job, security. So

now, what is the best website, Jeremy that our listeners can go to, to check out about South Carolina Voc Rehab,

okay, you would want to go to scvrd.net. And that stands for South Carolina vocational rehabilitation department. That's a mouthful, but you can go to that site. And it can it can show you where all our offices are, it can give you a little bit of general information, that kind of thing. And then I would just encourage you, once you found your local office, just give them a call and ask you know, to meet with a counselor and see what's available to you, because as I said, their service, their services, but each office is a little bit different in the way of the training center, and their connection with the schools and stuff like that. But we're all our main purpose is just helping eligible South Carolinians with disabilities find competitive employment. So especially our students with IPS and filing folders and stuff like that,

yes. Now, this is a state program. And so each state should have a program similar to this. It may not be called vocational rehabilitation in the state that you're in. But there is a state agency that operates in a similar format as what you guys do. So I would just encourage our listeners to go explore that based on your Our area of location. And Jeremy, you had shared with us right before there was a little history that I had never heard of before how this state agency Service came about, can you share that with

us? Yeah, generally, the vocational counseling experience surfaced around the military. And so back in World War One, there was a lot of individuals that were coming back, you know, with disabilities, you know, substained things from the war and stuff like that. And even through my own personal studies, currently trying to get my LPC and, and reading about, you know, when group counseling, all that kind of stuff started was generally around a war. And so they were trying to figure that kind of thing out to transition them from, you know, from being lawyers to going back to work, because, you know, I mean, it's two step, I mean, it's two different worlds. So, and especially if you're coming back with this whole new thing of, you know, you may, unfortunately be missing a limb or something like that. So they started vocational rehabilitation, to assist those individuals. And so it's been around for quite a while.

I just thought that was very interesting. I had never heard that before.

An appropriate story, given the veterans day was yesterday, and this won't be airing until a couple months away. But thanks for sharing that. And it's cool. Sure.

Jeremy, is there anything else at all that you'd like to share with our listeners today?

Yeah, just you know, it. Never VR is a, especially Billy live in the state of South Carolina, it's kind of a quiet, kept secret for some reason. And I don't know why. But, you know, we want to reach as many people as we can, and we want to assist. For example, you know, unfortunately, when I went through school, I didn't even know it existed. And then even when I applied for the job, I had no idea what I was applying for, I just it said, required master's degree in counseling. And then I was like, okay, cool. So I applied for it, and then found out what it was, I may not research into going into it. But you know, it's, it's, it's a great opportunity for everybody to participate in it, no cost to you, I can't speak for other states. I don't know what they you know, but South Carolina vocational rehabilitation has no cost associated to it, you just you come in, you get the services. And then you know, your counselor will guide you through what all they provide, there's even much more that I hadn't even told you about. But, you know, I specifically handle, you know, transition students. But if you have a disability and you want to apply, please do it, because we can help you find employment or just help you, in general, maybe with some general counseling that you may need. And if you're already employed one last final thing, you can still apply for VR. This, like if you sustained a new injury, like if you get in a car accident or something, and it's it's caused you to have difficulty on the job, or you may need some kind of assistive technology, like I have, I'm a diabetic, so I have a pump. But if if, for instance, that was an impediment to my employment, and I needed it, I could go through voc rehab, and see if they could help me with assisting what you know, because we can assess for different technologies, and different things like that and help that person along into their next step within their own career. That authority is so

well Jeremy, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. You guys go check out SCB rd.net And we'll have all that information linked in the show notes. Thanks.

Thank you. Have a blessed day. You too.

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