How Supported Employment Helps People with Disabilities
Supported employment is a federal program established in the 1980s that is crucial to giving adults with disabilities access to employment opportunities they might not otherwise be able to attain. We’ve discussed the technical requirements for the types of jobs and working conditions that qualify for supported employment status in our post, “What Types of Jobs and Settings are Suitable for Supported Employment.” In this post, we’re going to discuss how supported employment positively impacts the lives of those working under qualifying work arrangements.
A Feeling of Accomplishment
Personal growth and a sense of accomplishment is at the heart of supported employment and other services designed to support adults with developmental disabilities. The goal ultimately with supported employment is to place individuals into working situations where they are supported and can learn what their strengths are, how to capitalize on these new work skills, and ultimately how to become independent in the workplace. The programs are structured in a way to provide goals and objectives on specific timelines so that participants can reach a common ground of expected performance with employers, and over time, have the satisfaction of knowing they are a successful contributor to the workforce.
Competitive Income, Financial Independence
In certain circumstances, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows employment arrangements where workers with disabilities can be paid under the federal minimum wage. However, under evidence-based supported employment programs, which provide access to job coaching, training, and on-the-job support, adults with developmental disabilities can attain competitive employment with compensation at or above minimum wage.
Access to the competitive income afforded by evidence-based supported employment programs provides participants with an income stream that can help them live more independently and limit their reliance upon medical and disability benefits.
Employment is a key way people contribute to and take part in their community. While people with disabilities comprise the largest minority group at 20% of the nation’s population, only 20% of those with a disability participate in the workforce, compared to 69% of remaining population. Supported employment is a fantastic way to close this employment gap and allow more adults with disabilities to work with the public and throughout their community.
Federal support for the employment rights of adults with developmental disabilities has grown substantially since the original act in the 1980s and a number of regulations and acts have been enacted that improve the quality of the professional lives that individuals with disabilities can lead. As a contracted vocational rehabilitation provider in Nebraska, Hands of Heartland helps to bridge the gap between education and future employment for those with developmental disabilities who, through a supported employment arrangement that includes job coaching, skills training, and other support services, can thrive in the workforce. Focused on their fiscal and social independence, it’s our goal to help participants in the program achieve their personal goals and achieve a level of community integration that might not otherwise be achievable.