Vocational Rehabilitation Service Project for Migratory Agricultural Workers and Seasonal Farmworkers with Disabilities: New Jersey
Field photo (TBD). Photo by CHS.
To support federal efforts to achieve the full integration and participation in society of people with disabilities, CHS provides educational, training and advocacy services to/for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers with disabilities. The project identifies and recruits eligible individuals and helps them and their families attain such services as rehabilitation for work-related injuries, career counseling, job training, job placement and occupational skills training. This program was modeled on a similar Pennsylvania program, which started in 1998.
During the course of the project, CHS enrolled and served 118 MSFWs, placed 59 in jobs and helped 57 remain employed for 90 days or more. While working to gain better employment, many program participants learned to manage their work-limiting condition(s), increased their English-language proficiency, and prepared for the General Education Diploma (GED), while others achieved a GED and accessed vocational programs. Fifty percent of the MSFWs who enrolled and received services were placed in jobs, and 96.6 percent retained their jobs for 90 or more days.
The majority of CHS’ program participants migrated from Mexico to Southern New Jersey, but many were from Honduras, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. The most commonly reported injuries and illnesses that proved disabling for MSFWs included: diabetes, fractured bones, chronic pain, and depression. However, the majority of program participants had more than one injury or disease that prevented them from working and had academic and vocational needs that required substantial case management.
During the five-year period of performance, CHS offered a range of services and employed a case manager to help program participants navigate and utilize the health, educational, employment, and social service systems in Southern New Jersey to facilitate their vocational rehabilitation.
Educational Services: CHS offered English as a Second Language, GED preparation, and computer classes to participants in the MSFW program to help them attain skills needed to facilitate their transition to jobs with higher levels of responsibility and pay and other educational opportunities. CHS also implemented Plazas Comunitarias, funded by the Mexican Consulate of Philadelphia, which helped prepare Mexican farmworkers and their families earn the Secondary Education Diploma from Mexico. Additionally, with funding from the Mexican government, CHS offered stipends, through the IME Becas program, to program participants from Mexico who were enrolled in educational or vocational courses.
Health Services: When CHS learned that several program participants were diagnosed with diabetes, it provided them with access to the Tomando Control de Tu Salud, (Taking Control of Your Health), a chronic disease self-management class, diabetes education,fitness, and nutrition classes. Additionally, CHS made all participants aware of its HIV prevention program and program to help women of color who are living with HIV/AIDS connect to and stay in quality HIV/AIDS care.
- Vocational evaluation
- Case management
- Health and wellness training
- Assistance with job placement
- Job retention and transition services
- Developed a Spanish language guide for non-Spanish-speaking state vocational counselors and other service providers to help them serve their Spanish-speaking clients.
Select counties in southern New Jersey
US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services