In the United States, Supported employment is defined in the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. The most recent Rehabilitation Act Amendments were contained in the Workforce Investment Act signed into law in 1998. The Rehabilitation Act and its amendments establish and fund the Vocational Rehabilitation program. Vocational Rehabilitation, which is frequently referred to as “V.R.”, is the core national employment program for persons with a disability. Federal funding is funneled through state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies. Here is a representation of the core definition of supported employment as it is contained in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments. Supported employment means: A. Competitive employment in an integrated setting with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities – a) for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred; or b) for whom competitive employment has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of significant disability; and c) who, because of the nature and severity of their disabilities, need ongoing support services including both intensive initial support services and also extended services after transition from those initial support services in order to perform work; or B. Transitional employment for individuals with the most significant disabilities due to mental illness. There are a number of important critically important terms and concepts referenced in this definition of supported employment. These terms are: • Individuals with the most significant disabilities • Competitive employment • Integrated work setting • Ongoing support services and supported employment services.
Supported employment evolved as a way to assist individuals with the most significant disabilities with employment in their communities...a real job for real pay. For over 30 years supported employment has demonstrated that individuals with severe disabilities can work, yet today many individuals remain segregated in sheltered workshops and day programs. Efforts to convert sheltered work shops to provide supported employment (one person at a time) are underway. Verdicts in recent lawsuits upholding the right to work in inclusive settings seem to indicate that integrated employment will soon be the first choice. Best practices dictate that an individualized support approach to supported employment is used to assist individuals with gaining and maintaining employment. This requires a supported employment service provider to understand how to customize employment and provide supports. Supports could include: modifiying a job, adding accommodations or assistive technology, enhancing on the job site training among other things. What is needed will vary from one person and one employer to the next.
IPS Supported Employment helps people with severe mental illness work at regular jobs of their choosing. Although variations of supported employment exist, IPS (Individual Placement and Support) refers to the evidence-based practice of supported employment.
Characteristic of IPS supported Employment
- It is an evidence-based practice
- IPS supported employment practitioners focus on client strengths
- Work can promote recovery and wellness
- Practitioners work in collaboration with state vocational rehabilitation
- It uses a multidisciplinary team approach
- Services are individualized and long-lasting
- The IPS approach changes the way mental health services are delivered
Other countries around the globe use the terminology supported employment and each one has its own definition.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations http://ecfr.gpoacess.gov