Self-employment has emerged as a viable option for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). To meet increased self-employment demands, Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), in collaboration with the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), adapted services offered through the Reach Independence through Self Employment (RISE) program. The RISE program, funded by DORS, provides technical assistance and financial support to people starting their own businesses.
What follows below are State Agency Promising Practices from the Access To Integrated Employment project that exemplify excellent collaboration strategies to improve employment outcomes. We define collaboration more specifically as:
- Practices that encourage formal and informal interagency relationships with the full range of state agencies (VR, DOE, MH) that more holistically support youth and adults with IDD in employment and emphasize seamlessness from youth to adult services.
The Northeast Region Supported Employment Project was developed by the North Shore area office of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services in 2007. This pilot program, open to any individual with ID/DD who wanted to work, emphasized a person- centered planning approach to achieving the individuals' goals for employment in the community. The project emphasized the individual's choice of employment providers, collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), and use of an independent facilitator to support career and life planning.
Beginning in 2006, the Shoreline Public School District in King County, Washington partnered with Shoreline Community College to offer an off-campus transition program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) residing in the Shoreline School District. While participants are still in high school, the Community Based Transition Program offers a structured transitional step between their traditional day and post-secondary education as well as employment in the community.
In Colorado, counselors from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation are housed on-site in Community Centered Board offices so they can provide direct services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The goal of the project was to serve 240 customers with ID/DD and provide 134 successful employment outcomes over a two-year period. Streamlined services and enhanced communication emerged through a unique collaborative effort between the two entities.
The Early Start to Supported Employment (ESSE) pilot started in 2005 with the goal of providing a more seamless transition for students who would benefit from supported employment services when leaving school and entering the adult workforce. An interagency project team was established to guide the pilot work and ensure all required parties knew their role and shared information and equal responsibility within the project.
The Tennessee Employment Consortium (TEC) is a statewide organization focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans in integrated employment. The consortium comprises volunteers from the state's Division of Mental Retardation Services (DMRS) and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the ARC of Tennessee, the Center on Disability and Employment at the University of Tennessee, community rehabilitation providers (CRPs), family members, and other stakeholders.