Center creates regional stakeholder meetings to disseminate lessons-learned in Ohio about supported employment

—by Matthew K. Weiland and Paul M. Kubek

Zanesville, OH—The Ohio SE Coordinating Center of Excellence (CCOE) kicked off one of its main initiatives for this year on March 25 by hosting the first Regional Stakeholders Meeting in the state. These meetings will take place regularly in different regions of Ohio to encourage professional peer-support networks among individuals from multiple disciplines and multiple systems of care who are involved with starting and successfully implementing evidence-based Supported Employment services in their communities.

Participants may include team leaders, program managers, executives, quality improvement specialists, and others from vocational rehabilitation and mental health service organizations and county boards. Participants may also include consumers, family members, community advocates, and employers.

The regional meetings help achieve a number of goals:

  • Foster interest in developing SE programs
  • Provide face-to-face contact and, thus, facilitate relationships among professionals from different systems of care who might not otherwise interact
  • Create a network of stakeholders who can help identify and eliminate barriers to developing successful SE services
  • Identify solutions and best practices for implementing SE with fidelity
  • Identify interested employers

Local Knowledge

According to the Director of Implementation Services of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University Patrick E. Boyle, MSSA, LISW-S, LICDC, regional stakeholder meetings have been an important tool in the successful implementation of other evidence-based practices in Ohio, namely the Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) model. The meetings enable participants to discuss challenges they face in their communities as well as strategies that have produced both unsuccessful and successful results.

"Each region in Ohio faces different social, economic, and political challenges," Boyle says. "In addition, each county within those regions faces a different set of challenges, so does each community and each service organization. Yet there is much in common about developing an SE service among providers and their partners. So there is a lot of specialized knowledge and experience accumulating out there. It is important for people to share the lessons-learned with each other. It maximizes efficiencies and outcomes, because we're helping each other avoid mistakes that have already been made and to replicate strategies that are getting results."

Sharing Success Stories

The chairpersons of each regional meeting will facilitate the exchange of ideas, challenges, and solutions among participants by encouraging them to take turns sharing at least one success they have experienced since the previous meeting. This is useful, Boyle explains, because people often overlook the importance of small incremental successes when implementing a practice like SE. They tend to focus on big issues like organizational change, fidelity scores, and outcomes. He emphasizes that big changes like these often occur as a result of the incremental ones.

"It usually takes a couple of years to get an evidence-based practice off the ground," he says, "so the small successes are important for people to hear- to feel like the process is moving forward. You'd be surprised how important these are to hear."
For success stories shared at the March 25 Southeast Regional Stakeholders Meeting, see sidecasts; "Data Collection" through "Benefits Planning". 

Academic-Community Partnership

The Ohio SE CCOE is a program of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University, which is a partnership between the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and the Department of Psychiatry at the Case School of Medicine. The Ohio SE CCOE works in collaboration with and is supported by the following:

  • Ohio Department of Mental Health
  • Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission

Matthew K. Weiland, MA, is senior writer, producer, and new-media specialist at the Ohio SE CCOE. Paul M. Kubek, MA, is director of communications.