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Supported Employment (SE) is a "place then train" model, which is a two-part process:
- place a consumer with the most significant disabilities in a competitive job, and then
- provide training and support directly related to the job.
Unlike the traditional VR model, which provides job readiness and other training activities to prepare a consumer for employment, this model is more appropriate for consumers with the most significant disabilities. Problems transferring knowledge from an artificial training situation to a real job are eliminated, because the focus is on finding the best job match and providing training for that particular job.
For consumers to be eligible for SE services, they must meet the DARS definition of most significant disability as determined by the VRC. Consumers must
- have three or more limited functional capacities, and
- require Extended Services and supports to be successfully employed.
Consumers with the most significant disabilities who have any of the following challenges or needs are appropriate for SE services:
- Competitive integrated employment for the consumer has not occurred or has been interrupted or intermittent.
- Consumer has not benefited from traditional VR services.
- Consumer requires considerable assistance competing in the open job market.
- Consumer has had difficulty finding an appropriate job match.
- Consumer can maintain competitive integrated employment with necessary supports in place.
- Consumer will need another person, organization, or other resource to provide the Extended Services and supports after the VR-funded services end.
SE services enable consumers with the most significant disabilities to enter competitive integrated employment by providing
- individualized assistance finding the most appropriate job match, and
- ongoing support within the work environment.
SE services are for consumers who have been unable to find or maintain employment through traditional VR approaches and training programs.
Consumers in SE need assistance to
- compete in the open market,
- meet potential employers, and
- receive ongoing supports to maintain a job.
Often, these consumers have been
- excluded from community services;
- institutionalized; or
- in segregated work programs such as sheltered workshops for long periods.
An SE service provider seeks the best possible match between a consumer's skills, interests, abilities, and support needs and the employer's unmet business needs. In many cases, these jobs need to be carved out or created for a good job match to be made. The employment specialist or job skills trainer addresses any barriers to employment the consumer might have and may provide short-term support, while natural supports (such as peers or co-workers) are being arranged to meet the consumer's long-term needs. An employer who hires a consumer in SE should provide training for the consumer just as he or she would for other new employees, with help and support from the DARS counselor and the employment specialist. The SE specialist should ensure that adequate support is provided to the consumer by the job skills trainer on a routine basis. The SE specialist works in coordination with the VRC throughout the SE process to ensure the best possible employment outcome for the consumer.