Briana: Using Vocational Rehabilitation and Self-Directed Funds for Job Development



Briana is 24 years old. She describes herself as a happy person, and enjoys competitive cheerleading in her free time. Briana works 18 hours a week, making $8.40 per hour, at Red Robin Restaurant in Tigard, Oregon, two bus rides away from her home in Beaverton. Her duties include folding napkins, rolling cleaned silverware, and preparing wrappers for burgers. Briana used funds through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services to hire a job coach to help her develop this job. In addition, she used a home and community-based (HCB) waiver program for intermittent long-term job coaching, and to purchase tools to help with work tasks and with maintaining a safe commute.

What's Important

While Briana was still in high school, she attended a transition program for students with developmental disabilities. During this time, her mother set up a person-centered planning meeting where Briana, her family, and other people who knew her well talked about what she might want to do after high school. Briana expressed a clear preference for work as opposed to college. She had worked in her school cafeteria and at another food service job during the transition program, and was eager to secure competitive employment in the community. She and her person-centered planning team set a goal that Briana would work 20 hours a week. The team also determined that she would need on-the-job supports, along with training for traveling independently to and from work.

Two agencies and the school district collaborated to help Briana achieve her post-high-school employment goals. The local VR office was engaged so Briana could hire a job developer. A liaison working for the Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) agency helped her access funds through an HCB waiver. This waiver is available for adults with developmental disabilities, and emphasizes self-direction of funds to support participation in community life, including work.

Briana's job developer identified an open position at Red Robin Restaurant. Both Briana and the employer were interested in creating a successful employment experience. In addition to natural supports provided by restaurant staff, Briana used HCB waiver funds to hire a job coach to provide once-a-week intermittent long-term support.

Briana also used the HCB waiver to pay for several supports and services crucial to her success at work. One support is a timer that beeps every half-hour, helping her to stay on task until she has accomplished a specific goal, such as filling silverware bins. Another support is a public transportation pass that enables her to travel to and from work independently. Finally, Briana used the HCB funds to buy a cell phone, so that she can call her family to let them know when she has caught each of her buses home.

What Happened

Briana has been working at Red Robin Restaurant for two years. She enjoys the opportunity to do detailed tasks while interacting with co-workers, and also likes traveling independently to and from work and earning money. Briana, her family, and the job coach communicate frequently about her current job. If needed, VR and HCB waiver funds can be used to increase Briana's responsibilities at this job or to assist her in looking for additional jobs.

Lessons Learned

  • Get to know the available funding sources. Briana and her family learned about the ways in which she could use both VR and HCB waiver funds. They used her funds creatively to meet Briana's unique travel and communication needs.
  • Use funds to alleviate traditional barriers to work. Although Briana knew that the commute to and from her job would be difficult, she used the funds to access the bus system and to purchase a cell phone for safety.

To find out more about HCB, go to: Home & Community-Based Services 1915(c)

For more information, contact:
Arlene Jones