The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission (CARF) accredits Link's Supported Employment & Project SEARCH programs. There are four programs for consumers to participate in: Project SEARCH, LEEP or Supported Employment (Job Development & Job Coaching).


Skills Training Programs:

Provide assessment, skill training and support to find and maintain work in numerous settings.

  • Link Employment Exploration Program (LEEP): is designed to help prepare an individual for community employment by offering job shadowing and hands on instruction to gain job experience in real life business settings. LEEP is a non-paid internship opportunity lasting up to ten weeks. The program is designed to offer participants a selection from a variety of industries. Businesses will assign duties and tasks that are routine and entry-level for the participants to complete during their shift. Each site will have an assigned Employment Training Specialist (ETS) to assist participants with daily tasks and goals. LEEP is designed to have the participant go through three different phases. Phase one is the discovery phase, where each participant will have a chance to shadow at potential businesses of interest. Phase two is the internship phase, once the participant has chosen a site, they will begin their internship. Phase three is the job development stage, where each participant will begin looking for community employment with an Community Placement Manager (CPM). Throughout each phase the EDM will be meeting with the participant to build a relationship and gain an understanding of the desired employment objective. The desired outcome of LEEP is for the participant to gain experience and to become employed in the community.

Here are some of the different internship locations offered through LEEP: Old Country Buffet, Stew Hansen’s, Stoney Creek Inn, Zion Lutheran Church, Courage League Sports, Wines of Iowa, Des Moines Accupuncture, East Village Spa, Fusion Boutique, The Lupus Foundation, Rasmussen Bike Shop, Scheels, Blank Park Zoo, Prairie Vista Village, Flix Brewhouse, Walnut Cafe & The Link General Store.

Link General Store:  In May 2013, Link Associates celebrated the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the Link General Store.  The Link General Store is a part of the LEEP program and is operated out of this convenience store open to the public located within Link Associates at 1452 29th Street.  This program, funded by Polk County Health Services, will teach valuable skills and provide an on-the-job experience needed for individuals served by Link Associates to obtain community-based employment. Located on the ground level of the Link Associates main office, the 850 square feet store will sell breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages in a setting designed by and modeled after Casey’s General Stores, founded by Don Lamberti. “Mr. Lamberti has been instrumental in connecting us with management at Casey’s to ensure a realistic employment experience,” said Linda Dunshee, Executive Director of Link Associates.  “We are grateful for the opportunity this will provide for the participants, staff and community.”  Donors of the employee skills program include: Casey’s General Stores, Prairie Meadows Community Betterment grant, Variety Club of Iowa, Rod and Connie French, Wolin Mechanical and Williams Millwork.




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Support Employment:

Are you looking for an individual to fill an open need in your place of business?

An individual through our Supported Employment program could be the perfect fit! Our talented Job Developers can help you locate the ideal match for your need. At no cost to you, we can assist you in finding the right person to fill your opening. We can even assist you in finding ways to eliminate costs you’re currently incurring by evaluating your worksite to see where individuals can best assist you! Upon employment, Link Associates offers additional education and support with Employment Training Specialists. Again at no cost to you, our educated, professional Employment Training Specialists support you in the training of your new employee to ensure that all job components are fully understood. We provide on-going support to your business in order to ensure satisfaction and continued success for the business and individual.



Find out what employers like Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx & Pizza Ranch already know:  Supported Employment is the Way to Go! To learn more about our talented individuals seeking employment in the community, contact our Admissions Coordinator at 515-262-8888.

Supported Employment is designed to provide work experience in a community environment along with supports necessary to ensure success. This program assists individuals to find a job, provide necessary training at the work site, and to monitor the work performance to assure excellent quality. During the training period, a staff person is with the consumer at all times and assures the employer that the required amount of work is being completed. Once the consumer independently performs the work tasks, Link staff supports the consumer as needed to ensure continued success. When support is not required for the period of one year they can be discharged from the program and continue to work independently.  There is NO cost to the employer for the supports provided by Link Associates and consumers are compensated directly by the employer and wages and other benefits all fall within the employer’s standard hiring practices.

Our admission criteria includes:

• Dependent adult age 18 years or older, individuals 23 years or younger must have an open case with IVRS

• Ability to tolerate a three to eight hour program day and be willing to participate/benefit from services

• The consumer may not require a level of care greater than the service is able to provide

• The consumer must have a primary diagnosis of intellectual, developmental and/or physical disability

• Must be eligible for Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) ID Waiver Services (Medicaid Funding), Iowa Total Care, Amerigroup, IVRS, 100% County funded or Private Pay