What Parents Should Know About Supported Employment
Barriers to entry into the workforce faced by adults with developmental disabilities can be a major challenge faced by families of individuals with developmental disabilities, intellectual or otherwise, transitioning into adulthood. However, with community integration a driving goal for many families of individuals with developmental disabilities, advocacy for supported employment programs has led to the growth and expansion of these programs at the federal government level, providing multiple avenues to employment that might otherwise be closed. Let’s delve into supported employment and what it means for those it’s designed to help.
Supported Employment Services
Successfully navigating a competitive work environment can be daunting for individuals with developmental disabilities without the proper support. Supported employment services programs provide these individuals with vocational assessments and assistance in identifying job opportunities at a local level in appropriate settings. The program also provides clients with skills training and oversight from job coaches. Job coaches work to act as a liaison between their clients and employers to teach job tasks and work with employers to identify opportunities for accommodations and to put assistive technologies into play. The overarching goal of the program is to provide employers with solutions to behavioral or social problems and remove obstacles that might prevent adults with developmental disabilities from being successful in a job or role in which they could otherwise excel.
Who Can Benefit From Supported Employment Services?
The program is designed for individuals who have severe disabilities where traditional accommodations aren’t sufficient and the individual would require ongoing support throughout their lives. Intellectual developmental disabilities and developmental disabilities can make it difficult for individuals to learn the requirements of a given task or make it difficult for the individual to stay focused on tasks they are able to otherwise perform. This is where the job coaches play a crucial role in supported employment services, in that they are highly trained professionals experienced in helping adults with disabilities to perform tasks and remain focused on tasks they’ve been taught to execute.
When Should An Individual Explore Supported Employment?
School systems are generally mandated to have a formal plan in place for individuals with developmental disabilities to transition from education into the workforce. Supported employment in the form of vocational rehabilitation should provide the necessary support in this process, as vocational rehabilitation programs are designed to support individuals transitioning into the workplace. These programs include teams of professionals focused on providing adults with developmental disabilities from the start of their journey with vocational assessments and job placement, as well as skills training, securing job accommodations, and working with employers to identify roles and jobs that can be filled by their clients. The goal over time is to create a work environment that supports those with disabilities naturally, and to slowly withdraw the supported employment safety net.
Funding for Supported Employment
Vocational rehabilitation programs act as the foundation of a supported employment plan. Through state agencies such as developmental disability, intellectual disability, or mental health, vocational rehabilitation programs secure the funding necessary to employ the services of a professional job coach and other related support services. If no state agencies are available to provide funding, other options include community support and the use of Supplemental Security Income.
It Takes A Village to Welcome And Support
In years past, parents of adults with developmental disabilities could expect to see their children live in isolation and segregated from the community. Modern advocacy by organizations such as Hands of Heartland means that community integration has become the rule rather than the exception. Parents of adults with disabilities in the Omaha and Bellevue communities can rely on Hands of Heartland’s supported employment programs and vocational rehabilitation programs to help their children successfully transition into the workforce in a manner that promotes their independence and self-determination.