Supported employment is both an approach and array of services that enables people with significant disabilities to be successful in the workforce. The goal of supported employment is to assist people in finding and keeping employment in competitive jobs in typical integrated work settings.
For supported employment funded by either DDS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and/or Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the goal is for the person to become as independent as possible in their job or career. For most people, job coaching support fades over time as the person becomes more independent and as supervisors and coworkers become more proficient and more comfortable in providing workplace supports, and/or as other “natural supports” are developed.
As a service option, it is available through the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver program, operated by DDA. Supported employment funded though the waiver is based on the needs of the person and can be provided on a short-term or long-term basis.
Services someone may receive through supported employment, depending on the funding source, include:
- development of job opportunities
- job coaching at a work site
- job retention support
- assistance with transportation arrangement and/or travel training
- direct instruction to assist the person in learning all aspects of their job
- support to arrange for needed accommodations, and
- follow-along support, which can include support to a person’s supervisor and coworkers so that they can effectively supervise and support that employee.
For some people, supported employment staff may assist them in negotiating a customized job that both benefits the employer’s business, meets the employer’s needs, and is a good fit (such as, customized) for the person’s skills and interests.
Supported employment has traditionally been provided for people for whom competitive employment has been difficult to attain, maintain, or for whom competitive employment has been interrupted or intermittent due to the need for additional or ongoing support. People can receive short-term or long-term support through supported employment.
Through DC’s RSA, the supported employment program provides short-term services for people who require on-going supports to maintain integrated competitive employment in the community.
If people need longer term support to retain their job, longer term support may be provided by the DDA or the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) for people who are eligible for those services.