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University of Iowa News Release

June 3, 2005

Disability Job Training Project to Graduate First Class Friday

A new program that trains Iowans with disabilities to become direct care workers in social services agencies will graduate its first class on Friday, June 3 at 2 p.m. at the state capitol in Des Moines.

Iowa's "Consumer as Provider" (CAP) project will graduate 12 students and feature a commencement address by Iowa Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, who will also present graduation certificates. CAP is a joint effort of Polk County Health Services, Mainstream Living and the University of Iowa's Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center. The program's goal is to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Iowa.

"CAP expands employment opportunities because one barrier Iowans with disabilities face is the lack of education and training for jobs," said Maria Walker, Polk County Health Services program planner. "CAP provides classroom instruction and an unpaid internship that gives the students with disabilities skills and knowledge to become direct care workers in human service agencies." 

Polk County Health Services funds the program, and Mainstream Living teaches the course, arranges internships and assists with job placement for graduates. Mainstream Living Vice President Pat Steele said that students will find employment in agencies that provide services to people with disabilities, such as Mainstream Living, Easter Seals, Crest Services, Creative Community Options and others.

The program is in its first cycle in Iowa. Twelve students have completed CAP and three have obtained employment. The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center (LHPDC) is evaluating the project for Polk County Health Services.

"This project is a great collaboration among agencies in Iowa serving people with disabilities and the University of Iowa," said Peter Blanck, LHPDC director and Kierscht Professor of Law at the UI College of Law.

The Iowa Law, Health Policy & Disability Center (http://disability.law.uiowa.edu) is a leader in law, technology, education and research focused on improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. Polk County Health Services (PCHS) is a nonprofit public agency that supports access to health care and promotes full citizenship for people with mental illness, mental retardation or developmental disabilities. PCHS is responsible for countywide planning, implementation and evaluation of services for Iowans with disabilities. Mainstream Living, Inc provides living and employment services to people with disabilities throughout central Iowa, with services designed to strengthen an individual's abilities while lessening the impact of the disability.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu; Program: Maria Walker, Polk County Health Services, 515-883-1596; Pat Steele, Mainstream Living, 515-309-0324 Ext. 11