Resource Guide: Competitive Integrated Employment

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Competitive integrated employment (CIE) is foundational to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This act requires VR agencies to use strategies that result in competitive integrated employment for people with the most significant disabilities. It mandates that VR agencies provide services to businesses, as well as to people with disabilities, with the goal of developing mutually beneficial partnerships that result in quality employment.

WIOA defines competitive integrated employment as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual is:

  • Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
  • Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
  • At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and
  • Presented opportunities for advancement like other employees without disabilities in similar positions.

Which Employment Settings Meet WIOA Criteria for CIE?

To meet the definition of CIE, an employment setting must be:

  • Typically found in the community (employer site is not operated for the primary purpose of employing individuals with disabilities); and
  • Conducting business where an employee with a disability interacts with both people with and without disabilities (e.g., co-workers, customers, and vendors, not just supervisors and support staff) to the same extent as employees without disabilities.

Note: Self-employment and Telework can be considered CIE if the employment is considered typical for individuals without disabilities and if the company using telework is not established specifically for the purpose of employing individuals with disabilities.

VR agencies must determine on a case-by-case basis whether an employment setting meets criteria for an integrated location, and may visit employment sites and gather facts necessary for these determinations.

Examples of Settings that Do Not Meet the Criteria for CIE Include:

  • Settings established by Community Rehabilitation Programs specifically for the purpose of employing individuals with disabilities, often paying subminimum wages under a 14(c) license (e.g., sheltered workshops, Javits-Wagner-O’Day [JWOD], etc.) because they are not typically found in the competitive labor market.
  • Group employment settings (i.e., enclaves), such as janitorial crews in which individuals with disabilities earn competitive wages.

Source: Competitive Integrated Employment Guidance (

How can VR Professionals Increase Capacity for CIE Outcomes?

VR professionals can increase their capacity to provide services that result in CIE by using best practices and providing supports shown to result in CIE for people with disabilities. These best practices and supports include:

Supported Employment

Supported Employment is an evidence-based strategy to support people with the most significant disabilities obtain and maintain competitive integrated employment. It is designed for people who:

  • Do not have a history of competitive integrated employment, OR
  • Have a competitive employment history interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability, AND
  • Need intensive supported employment services and extended services to perform the work involved after the transition to extended services, because of the nature and severity of their disability.

Read TACQE's Resource Guide for Supported Employment to learn more.

Customized Employment

Customized employment is a person-centered process in which the counselor negotiates and tailors the relationship between the employee and employer so that the needs of both are met. Teamwork between the job seeker, counselor, and employer is essential throughout the customized employment process. The result is an individually tailored job that is beneficial to both the job seeker and the employer.

Learn more about Customized Employment from TACQE.

Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing

The use of blending, braiding, and/or sequencing (BBS) maximizes the efficient and effective use of federal funds across systems for supporting individuals with disabilities to secure and maintain CIE.

  • Blending occurs when dollars from multiple funding streams combine to create a single “pot” of commingled dollars which can fund an initiative or purchase more specific services. Blending involves pooling funds from multiple sources to support a common goal, such that each individual funding source gives up its program identity.
  • Braiding occurs when multiple funding streams separately and simultaneously provide specific services. Because braiding involves simultaneous service delivery by two or more systems, it may require interagency coordination and collaboration with this specific goal in mind.
  • Sequencing occurs when multiple funding streams separately and sequentially provide specific services.

Explore Blending, Braiding, and Sequencing with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Community Engagement

Collaborative and coordinated service planning and delivery that support personal interests and goals and maximizes all opportunities for community engagement support people on their path to competitive integrated employment.

Community engagement describes participation in activities in the community that are chosen by individuals with disabilities and offer meaningful opportunities for learning and expanding skills critical to employment and independent living. Community engagement activities provide opportunities to:

  • Build relationships and social networks
  • Sharpen workplace social skills
  • Learn work skills
Visit TACQE to learn more about Community Engagement.

Recommended Resources from TACQE and Partners

Here are more resources to get you started or help you delve deeper into learning how to increase CIE outcomes for the people you serve.

On-Demand Training


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