Resource Guide: Supported Employment

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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.

The definition of “supported employment” in 34 CFR part 361, means competitive integrated employment, including customized employment, or employment in an integrated work setting in which an individual with a most significant disability, including a youth with a most significant disability, is working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment, that is individualized and customized, consistent with the unique strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice of the individual, including with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities.

How It Works

In the Supported Employment process:

    1. An individual with a most significant disability works with an Employment Specialist to identify their interests, skills, and abilities. Driven by informed choice, the Employment Specialist then assists the individual in locating an appropriate position that suits their identified interest and abilities.
    2. An Employment Specialist supports the employee with a most significant disability in their new position until the new employee is meeting employer satisfaction. That support can include learning the job tasks, identifying supports on and off the worksite and potential accommodation needs.
    3. The Employment Specialist provides ongoing support to the employee with a most significant disability and their employer throughout the tenure of the job.

Most employees with most significant disabilities require no special accommodations, and the cost for those who do is minimal or much lower than many employers believe.

Online Decision Guide: Supported Employment or Customized Employment?

Vocational rehabilitation agencies offering both supported and customized employment approaches to pursuing employment for people with disabilities may have questions about which approach is best based on an individual’s circumstances.

TACQE’s online tool can help vocational rehabilitation professionals choose between supported and customized employment approaches when working with someone on achieving their employment goals. This tool asks questions to determine which approach might be a good fit for someone you are working with.

Supported and Customized Employment
Referral Decision-Making Flow Chart

Recommended Resources from TACQE and Partners

There are many resources and supports for continued learning as you use this evidence-based employment strategy to support job-seekers with the most significant disabilities. Here are a few to get you started.

On-Demand Training

More Resources

Related Resources: Supported Employment
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