Headquartered in a small rural town in northern Maine, Katahdin Friends, Inc. (KFI) provides community employment and life engagement supports, as well as home supports, to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). A flexible approach to staffing and support scheduling helps KFI ensure customized daily support schedules that meet individual goals. This approach also allows individuals to interact with a variety of direct support professionals, which is important for having a more engaged and meaningful life in the community.
Community Life Engagement
Community life engagement refers to all the ways that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities access and participate in their communities outside of employment. Activities can include volunteer work; postsecondary, adult, or continuing education; accessing community facilities such as the library, gym, or recreation center; any activities that people with and without disabilities do in their spare time. CLE activities may support career exploration , wrap around work time, or serve as a retirement option. ICI is conducting research on CLE to develop guidance for states and service providers on how to improve CLE supports while maintaining a focus on Employment First.
This one-page, accessible flyer provides a plain language overview of the definition of Community Life Engagement, and the four most important things to consider:
Community Life Engagement Toolkit is here!
The toolkit was developed to help service providers develop and improve high quality supports for community life engagement (CLE). It contains guideposts for success, a self-assessment tool, real-world examples of service providers making CLE happen, and other helpful resources and tools. You can access the CLE toolkit here: https://cletoolkit.thinkwork.org
For more information on these efforts, see our two publications series (Engage and Promising Practices) and past presentations:
These brief products describe findings and insights from our ongoing research on CLE, including description of the four CLE Guideposts and how they are put in practice at case study sites. Read the series here: Community Life Engagement Engage Series.
Promising Practices in Community Life Engagement
A collaborative effort with the Access to Integrated Employment project , these publications highlight service provider practices that enhance CLE for people with IDD while maintaining a focus on employment. Read the Access to Integrated Employment and Community Life Engagement Promising Practices series here.
Community Life Engagement Presentations
Look here for past presentations from the Community Life Engagement.
- Engaging with State Employment Leadership Network to identify emerging needs and issues at the state level.
- Conducting interviews with 13 knowledgeable people representing state IDD agencies, service providers, researchers, family members, and individuals with IDD.
- Conducting case studies of Community Life Engagement efforts at three exemplary service providers.
- Developing a promising practices series on state and service provider implementation of Community Life Engagement.
- Surveying state IDD agencies about their Community Life Engagement policies and practices.
- Developing, piloting, refining, and disseminating guideposts and toolkits for states and service providers.
Jennifer Sullivan Sulewski, Principal Investigator
Jaimie Timmons, Senior Research Associate
Allison Hall, Senior Research Associate
Oliver Lyons, Research Study Coordinator
Miwa Tanabe, Program Coordinator
Hannah Curren, Graduate Assistant
Sulewski, J. S., Timmons, J. C., Lyons, O., & Hall, A.C. (2019). Guideposts for High-Quality Community Life Engagement Supports: Results of Expert Interviews. Inclusion, 7(4), 254–268.
Sulewski, J. S., Timmons, J. C., Lyons, O., Lucas, J., Vogt, T., & Bachmeyer, K. (2017). Organizational transformation to integrated employment and community life engagement. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 46(3), 313–320.
Sulewski, J.S. (2014, November). Community Life Engagement: A New Initiative of the Institute for Community Inclusion and State Employment Leadership Network. Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Washington, DC.
Sulewski, J. S. (2010). In search of meaningful daytimes: Case studies of community-based nonwork supports. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 35(1–2), 39–54.
Sulewski, J. S., Butterworth, J., & Gilmore, D. S. (2008). Community-based non-work supports: Findings from the National Survey of Day and Employment Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities.Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 46(6), 456–467.
Sulewski, J. S., Butterworth, J., & Gilmore, D.S. (2006). Community-based non-work services: Findings from the National Survey of Day and Employment Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities.Research to Practice Brief. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston, Institute for Community Inclusion.
Sullivan, J. A., Boeltzig, H., Metzel, D. S., Butterworth, J., & Gilmore, D. S. (2004). The National Survey of Community Rehabilitation Providers, FY2002-2003. Report 2: Non-work services. Research to Practice Brief. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston, Institute for Community Inclusion.
SEEC (Seeking Equality, Empowerment, and Community) is a Maryland-based provider of employment, community living, and community development supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Because SEEC has no central facility, having ways to maintain contact between staff and management is paramount. From prepaid cell phones in 2005 to outfitting every staff member with a tablet or a laptop today, SEEC has embraced mobile communication since it started its conversion.
WorkLink is a program that braids community employment and life engagement services. The goal is to enable individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to work while receiving wrap-around day supports, as needed. Started in 1996, WorkLink is a program of TransCen, Inc. and is based in San Francisco.
The purpose of this brief is to:
1. Present findings from 13 expert interviews regarding essential elements of high-quality Community Life Engagement, organized into four guideposts.
2. Consider these guideposts as a set of key principles states and providers can use to move their Community Life Engagement efforts forward.
As state and federal policy makers and Community Service Providers work to refine the concept of Community Life Engagement, they are able to draw upon multiple, public, national data sources. These include:
As national disability policy prioritizes greater support for community-based integrated employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), the level of participation in services for other daytime activities continues to grow (Winsor & Butterworth, 2012). The role of services related to engagement and participation in community life has to date been largely undefined.