JFS Launches Bridges to Employment and HEDS Case Management

Posted on August 04, 2020

At Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, we strive to offer innovative programs and services for clients. Bridges to Employment and HEDS Case Management reflect our agency’s commitment to further assisting community residents with critical support to help empower their lives.

In the current economic environment, many teenagers and young adults are struggling to secure steady employment. These challenges are intensified by the presence of a disability which may impact how someone interviews, how employable they are seen or their transportation options.

In May, JFS implemented the Bridges program for out-of-school youth and young adults, ages 16 to 24, who have a disability (learning or mental health challenges) from the Atlantic City area. Currently, JFS Vocational Case Managers provide comprehensive services to help 30 participants and their families navigate the sometimes overwhelming transition from high school into the workforce or advanced education. The program provides individualized guidance and support to connect a client to job training, apprenticeships, certification programs and more. Or, if the client is looking to further their education or join the military, JFS will assist in those avenues. In addition, the Bridges program offers financial literacy education, transportation and benefits counseling to clients.

As Dr. Nina Stolzenberg, JFS Director of Vocational Services shared, “According to the Institute for Community Inclusion, based at the University of Massachusetts, only 33.7% of working-age adults with disabilities are employed, compared with 72.9% of people without disabilities. For working-age adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, the number plunges to 16%.” Given the opportunity, many of these individuals can and want to work. JFS Bridges to Employment supports them in doing so.”

As the state continues to pioneer programs to reduce incarceration levels amongst our youth, the New Jersey Superior Court Family Division has created the Home Electronic Detention System (HEDS) Case Management Program, which serves as an alternative to the established detention program.

With the HEDS Case Management Program, Case Managers work closely with a court-designated youth to identify, develop and achieve individual goals. In doing so, the program shows the court system that the youth is diligently working to reduce any technical violations and enhance their future. The Case Manager offers professional support, insight and an array of dedicated services including the development of skills – problem solving, better communication, anger management resolution and more. In addition, the client receives connections and referrals to other professionals or resources in the community to further develop their personal and professional abilities. They also have access to transportation, vocational assistance, and advocacy at a court disposition.

“With the HEDS Case Management Program, JFS staff provide support and psychoeducation as well as assist in developing resources for youth in the program and reduce racial disparity of youth involved in the juvenile justice system,” said Naomi Jones, Ph.D., Senior Director of Outpatient Services.

The program also provides family support to further educate parents and/or guardians about the court process and available peer support with other families experiencing similar situations.

JFS was also awarded funding for the Resilient Youth Program, a trauma-informed emotional regulation group treatment for youth age 17 or younger who have begun to engage in low-level delinquent behavior and are at-risk of continued involvement in the Juvenile Justice System.

For more information on the Bridges program, contact Mike O’Brien, JFS Vocational Services Supervisor, at 609.703.3037 or mobrien@jfsatlantic.org.