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A little help up: Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Detroit Lakes now offering services full time

Vocaltional Rehabilitation Services, located at the Minnesota Workforce Center in Detroit Lakes, has recently extended their services from part-time to full-time. Kaysey Price / Tribune

Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Detroit Lakes has recently gone from a part-time service to full-time, offering that much more assistance for anyone with a disability who is looking for work in Becker County.

Maureen Lilleby, who heads up the service in the Minnesota Workforce Center, says she has been in Detroit Lakes since 2008. Though, until recently, she was only in town for two days a week, spending the other three work-week days in Moorhead.

"I'm here more often," laughed Lilleby when asked what the biggest changes would be now that the service has gone full-time. "Not that there wasn't always the need in Detroit Lakes because it's a big enough community that the numbers were always there."

And now those numbers of people have access to vocational rehabilitation services five days a week.

The same services, just longer hours, Lilleby says the state- and federal-funded program is aimed at helping people with disabilities of all levels during a job search.

"Everything we do is employment-based," said Lilleby. "Our niche is that we just work with people with disabilities, and so we help level the playing field so to speak."

Some of the ways in which the program helps to "level the playing field" is with their various placement services.

"We contract with a placement vendor who assists with job search. They assist with working with the employer, doing job coaching, vocational guidance and counseling," said Lilleby.

Even before a job search, Lilleby and the placement vendor can help someone figure out what career path they want to take through assessments and such.

Lilleby says she works with ages from "transition age," around junior or senior year of high school, all the way up to retirement age.

And she works with all Becker County schools—Detroit Lakes, Lake Park-Audubon, Frazee, Circle of Life Academy, consulting the teachers and assisting those students who may be jumping into their first ever job search.

While she does go out into the community and receive referrals, others in need of vocational rehabilitation services who may not be in school anymore are also welcome to walk in and see if they are eligible for assistance with a job search.

Lilleby does not diagnose disabilities, but walk-ins can sign a medical release form to prove their eligibility for the program. Otherwise, if someone is already receiving social security benefits for a disability, Lilleby says they would be "presumptively eligible."

Those interested in seeing if they would qualify for vocational rehabilitation services can walk into the Minnesota Workforce Center at 801 Roosevelt Avenue in Detroit Lakes or call 218-846-7377.