HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians is moving forward with a plan to provide counseling and rehabilitation services to American Indians with disabilities, thanks to a five-year, $1.7 million grant.
The money was awarded through the U.S. Department of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation Service Projects for American Indians with Disabilities. The grant provides funding for all five tribes in Maine, and the Maliseets will serve as the lead agency for the project.
The tribe will sign a memorandum of understanding with the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation program, which is administered through the Department of Labor. This will enable the tribe to form a partnership with the state so they can receive assistance with developing the program and training staff.
All of the tribes will be served directly on-site, Rosa McNally, the grant writer for the Houlton tribe, said recently.
“We are very excited about this award,” she said. “We will be providing vocational rehabilitation services at each tribe, onsite, so no one has to travel to other locations. Tribal members get immediate access to VR services.”
The state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, also known as VR, is a Department of Labor program that helps people who have disabilities to get and keep a job. Vocational Rehabilitation helps people who have physical, mental or emotional disabilities.
The program overseen by the Maliseets will offer job-related services, including job search and placement assistance, along with job retention and follow-up services, said McNally.
As a result of the grant, four new positions will be created at the Maliseet Tribal Office. The positions include counselors and job coaches who will travel to locations as needed to conduct their services.
McNally said the tribe was excited to receive the money.
“This was a very competitive grant program, and we were extremely excited when we received word that we had gotten the grant,” she said. “This is an excellent opportunity for Native Americans across the state.”
Officials with the state Department of Labor could not be reached for comment.