Since the introduction of supported employment in the Developmental Disabilities Act of 1984 and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986, there has been continued development and refinement of best practices in employment services and supports. Progress includes creative outcomes for individuals with significant support needs including customized jobs and self-employment, community rehabilitation providers that have shifted emphasis to integrated employment, and states that have made a substantial investment in Employment First policy and strategy.
Staff training and development
What are some of the best ways to train staff who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities? You'll find a variety of approaches and suggestions for staff training and development in the resources below.
Effective supervision of employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities can be challenging for businesses that may not have experience in hiring people with diverse support requirements. This is largely due to the relatively low participation rates of people with disabilities in the workforce. This is, thankfully, changing as more businesses are seeing the value of diversifying their workforce, which includes hiring people with diverse cognitive abilities like people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Interviews with 16 employment consultants-triangulated with job seekers, family members, and supervisors-revealed a model of employment supports aligned with the elements described in the literature, although with an added emphasis on (a) building trust as a key element starting from day one; (b) a circular process converging on the job match; (c) and flexible intensity of supports.
Interviews with employment consultants reveal 5 key elements for supporting job seekers with disabilities. This brief describes 5 key elements for supporting job seekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in finding individual paid employment:
Expanding participation in integrated employment is a key goal for both state agencies and individual community rehabilitation providers. The Training and Technical Assistance for Providers project, or T-TAP, was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy to identify strategies that support movement from facility based services, and in particular employment at less than the minimum wage Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to customized employment in integrated community settings.
This brief provides a look the relationship-based staffing practices at Avenues Supported Living Services of Valencia, CA. The key to Avenues’ success is a staffing approach that is grounded in client relationships. The agency limits staff hours to two shifts per week with the same individual. This is done to facilitate client-staff matching and relationship building, but also to prevent potential burnout and frustration by ensuring both the clients they support and their staff have variety in their schedules.
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.
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.
Avenues Supported Living Services of Valencia, California was founded in 1997 by a husband- and-wife team, Scott and Lori Shepard. The agency provides supported living and community life engagement (CLE) services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Key to Avenues’ success is a staffing approach that is grounded in client relationships.
Listen to the archived webinar here...Genni Sasnett, a human services consultant with extensive experience in disability employment, and Jill Eastman, an award-winning employment specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, shared their perspectives about how employment support professionals can take a leadership role, and serve as civil rights change agents, while also empowering the people they serve to find fulfilling work and thr