In 2002, the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) developed a contractual requirement that employment service provider performance be tracked through outcome measures. As a result, DDS shaped its employment data collection system to focus on what it viewed as key outcomes for measuring success around employment.
Performance measurement and data
A popular saying in our field is, "If it gets measured, it gets done." Measuring performance--whether of staff members or of employment outcomes--is crucial for understanding what we're doing well, where we're lacking, and how we can improve. Explore this topic in the resources below.
In 2010, when the New Hampshire Bureau of Developmental Services (BDS) received grant funds to strengthen multisystem service delivery, its administrators partnered with area agencies; community rehabilitation providers, or CRPs (employment providers); and other stakeholders to improve and streamline the process of collecting employment data. Originally a multi-system process, BDS continued the data-collection effort when other systems withdrew.
At the national level, integrated employment has become an important policy priority. Greater expectations are being placed on those charged with delivering employment supports, and disability systems are responding. However, the promise of integrated employment has yet to be realized for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Work Inc. is a medium-sized CRP in Massachusetts that has served people with IDD for the last 32 years. Over the last 15 years, since Work Inc. began tracking employment services data, its approach to employment supports in the community has evolved. The agency’s data- tracking methods have both guided and developed alongside this change process.
The increasing emphasis on government accountability at the state and federal levels has increased interest in and use of outcome data. Moreover, research has found that high performing states in integrated employment generally have a clear and visible data collection system that provides individual outcome data (Hall et al, 2007). But what are the most important elements in designing and using a system?
As evidence of the positive outcomes associated with integrated employment develops it is important to identify policy and practices at the state level that expand access to employment opportunity. This brief presents findings from Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) case study research focused on state agencies that support individuals with developmental disabilities.
The past twenty years have seen an increasing emphasis on community-based services and equal access to employment for all individuals, including those with the most significant disabilities. The question is, to what extent have changes in philosophy translated into changes for state agencies and the people they serve?
Employment is a critical need for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The recognition of the pivotal role that work can play in the lives of people with IDD is driving many state developmental disabilities agencies to adopt "Employment First" policies that prioritize employment in integrated settings as the preferred day service alternative. The need for this policy shift is clear. While few policymakers, providers, families or advocates fail to recognize the benefits of employment for people with ID/DD, the outcomes have been difficult to achieve.
The state of Florida's Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) has implemented a five-year employment initiative for people with ID/DD. One goal is to enable at least 50 percent of adults (ages 18 to 55) receiving APD-funded day services (including adult day training, supported employment, and non-residential supports and services), as of July 1, 2004, to achieve community employment by July 1, 2009.
Between the years of 1985 and 1996 Colorado experienced significant growth in integrated employment for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities (MR/DD). Several factors were consistently highlighted as contributing to Colorado's employment outcomes during this period. These included: