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SEP assists Black Belt citizens

By EASON FRANKLIN
The Lowndes Signal

With the efforts of Governor Bob Riley’s Black Belt Action Commission, residents of Lowndes County have a new opportunity to improve their lives to become self-supporting.

The Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) is a new program administered by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) in a conjunctive effort with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and the Alabama Career System to provide paid employment to Family Assistance (FA) recipients.

Kimberly Means, who is employed within the Lowndes County Board of Education as a secretary with the Special Education Department, is a participant in this new program.

As a single parent living in Hayneville, Means praised the SEP’s efforts and has been enrolled for over two months. It primarily assists in helping her care for her 19-month old daughter who she is “crazy about.”

“I was brought into the program through the Career Readiness Program to assist in acquiring the skills to find a job,” said Means. “This is what I love to do.”

SEP offers an incentive to employers by reimbursing them 100-percent of an employee’s wage for six months through DHR.

People employed through the program receive the same pay, benefits and compensation as every other employee whom is offered the same type of work.

The program is funded via stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and covers 80 percent of the cost of the SEP.

Subsidy payments are available for all FA recipients in all 67 counties of Alabama including those with disabilities who participate in DHR’s Independence through Employment (ITE) program through DRS.

Currently seeking her General Education Diploma (GED) offered by Wallace Community College, the 25-year-old Means says she will continue to pursue her education which will allow her to secure a permanent status with the Board of Education.