Who is Supported Employment Intended For?

Who is Supported Employment Intended For?

Who is Supported Employment Intended For?

Finding a job in the modern economy can be a challenging ordeal, regardless of your skillset, background, and education. For individuals with intellectual / developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are capable of working, but might need special accommodations made depending upon their condition, the process of finding employment can be doubly challenging. This is where supported employment comes into play. Let’s dig deeper into what supported employment is and for whom it’s intended.

What is Supported Employment?

Supported employment was established by the federal government in the 1980’s as a model of employment giving people who have severe disabilities necessary and ongoing support so that they may effectively participate in a competitive work environment. While established by the federal government, supported employment programs are often organized and administered at the local level by service providers who offer vocational assessments, work with local organizations to develop appropriate jobs, and provide individuals in the program with skills training. Job coaches are major contributors to the success of supported employment programs as they work with clients to learn job tasks, help employers identify opportunities for reasonable accommodations, and act as a liaison between their clients and employers to address behavioral or social issues.

Who Benefits From Supported Employment?

The core principle of supported employment is that the program is intended to support individuals with severe disabilities who need ongoing support throughout their lives. It is intended as a continuation of vocational rehabilitation support for individuals once they’ve left the public school system. The benefits from this program manifest on three different levels: adults with developmental disabilities, employers, and the community.

Adults with I/DD

Adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities reap the most from these programs. They are able to learn a degree of independence, and given an opportunity to contribute to their own quality of life. Over time, they can learn real skills and make a contribution to the community in ways they might not otherwise have been given the opportunity to participate.


The benefits to employers go beyond the tax incentives that most states offer for employing individuals through supported employment programs. By bringing adults with developmental disabilities onto their workforce, they are hiring individuals who have a very low turnover rate, saving the organization time and labor costs. It also improves the overall culture and decreases turnover in other employees, as is shows the employer is willing to operate with the good of the community as a core driving business principle.


Supported employment programs are at their foundation community-based. They are intended to bring together those in the community who need the most help with those in the community who can best provide that assistance. By bridging this gap, supported employment programs humanize and remove stigmas by ensuring all who want to contribute to the local economy are given the opportunity to do so, and in ways that make them feel as if they are a part of the community, not a burden to it.

Hands of Heartland and Vocational Services in Nebraska

As a contracted Vocational Rehabilitation Provider, Hands of Heartland feels its important to educate businesses and organizations as to what Supported Employment is and how it can benefit both businesses and individuals who are employed through vocational services such as those we offer. Learn more about our role in supported employment services in Omaha and Bellevue, and find out how we can help your family member or your business to embark on this journey towards community integration for adults with I/DD.

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