Research to Practice: The Successes and Struggles of Closing a Facility-Based Employment Service

Over the past 15 years there have been substantial changes in the delivery and funding of day and employment services for individuals with disabilities. Most notably, the introduction of supported employment has led to a dramatic increase in the number of individuals with severe disabilities in integrated community employment. Despite these promising changes, the implementation of supported employment has not resulted in a transfer of resources and services from facilities to integrated employment. Data from state MR/DD agencies suggest that while the number of individuals supported in integrated employment has increased, the number in facility-based programs has remained steady or risen over the 8 years between 1988 and 1996 (Institute for Community Inclusion, 1998).

At the same time, it is clear that some organizations have successfully shifted emphasis from facility-based services to community employment, including closing a facility-based program. There is a need for a better understanding of the organizational and systems factors that influence organizational change in order to develop the capacity for change in the broader service system. This brief will present the preliminary findings from a study of ten community rehabilitation providers, six that successfully closed a facility-based program in the period between 1989 and 1994, and four who are currently involved in a change process. The goal of this research is to support organizations and systems in advancing access to integrated employment for all individuals.

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