Employment Program Chosen for National Study

At the beginning of March, Impact’s Employment Services Program launched the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-Income Families Project (BEES) pilot study in partnership with the MDRC research group. The BEES study aims to examine the effectiveness of Impact’s Employment program when implemented at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) among participants with dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance use disorders. The study’s funding will come primarily from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Impact’s employment program uses the IPS model of employment services, a nationally recognized best practice for individuals living with mental illness. IPS has been utilized by Impact’s Employment Program for over five years, growing from a single employment specialist to a team that provides services in partnership with almost a dozen social service and behavioral health agencies throughout Chicago and its suburbs. During that time, Impact has developed a track record of success, most recently maintaining a job placement rate of 68%–well above Illinois’s average rate of 30% among employment service agencies.

Typically, IPS services take place at community mental health agencies, where employment staff work alongside clinicians to provide comprehensive support to individuals with mental illness who are seeking employment. By contrast, FQHCs typically provide a broad range of primary and behavioral healthcare services to low-income and medically underserved communities—many of whom would otherwise struggle to access standalone mental health services.

The main site for the BEES study will be PCC Community Wellness Center, located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood where Impact has been providing a limited amount of employment services at PCC Wellness for several years.

“With this study, we can expand our services to serve more individuals from historically under-resourced communities, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to meet the demand that has come from PCC Wellness. The original idea for the BEES study came out of talks with the National IPS Center, describing to them the work that we were already doing. The most exciting part is that there are FQHCs all over the country—this study could have a national impact!

-Christopher Knoper, Impact’s Director of Participant Services