Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Smith, T.J., Dillahunt-Aspillaga, C., & Kenney, C. (2015). Integrating customized employment practices within the vocational rehabilitation system. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 42 (3), 201-208.
Title:  Integrating customized employment practices within the vocational rehabilitation system
Authors:  Smith, T.J., Dillahunt-Aspillaga, C., & Kenney, C.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the definition of Supported Employment now includes Customized Employment (CE). As a result, state vocational rehabilitation can fund services to achieve this outcome, CE, for people with the most significant disabilities. Discovery is a component of the CE process. This strategy results in a narrative profile that can help guide CE and help ensure integrated competitive employment outcomes for individuals with the most significant disabilities.
Purpose:  This article provided an overview of CE practices implemented in one State‚Äôs Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) system and offer lessons learned to assist other states with replicating the process. Ways to integrate Discovery into the State's VR process and the feasibility of a Discovery certification program were investigated.
Setting:  Florida.
Study sample:  There was no study sample.This article describes a process used to implement a process for training community employment services providers, to provide Discovery as a billable VR service.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison group.
Data collection and analysis:  Two pilot programs were conducted to test the feasibility of a Discovery certification program for community employment services providers who were vendors of for the VR program. The first training was offered face to face. The initial pilot was successful with 11 of 16 trainees receiving certification. The second pilot was conducted online. Seven participants were trained via weekly 90 minute online meetings overseen by two course instructors. Throughout the training, participants completed various assignments related to Discovery. This pilot was successful. However, some found the requirements too rigorous. This information was used to further refine the training. The result was a hybrid model. This includes on line, on demand course content. The experiential component now involves providing individualized technical assistance to participants using stewards. Stewards are highly trained Discovery experts. Six course modules were developed. Infra structure was established to promote state wide access to the course and long term sustainability. A state university provides a platform to register students and offer the online course. The stewards are facilitated by a consulting group that specializes in CE process. State VR is involved at the State and local levels. Pre and post survey data are collected.
Findings:  Fifty one community employment services were certified to provide Discovery as a billable service to State VR. Several quality controls were added to ensure Discovery was implemented with fidelity to the CE model. A recertification process was recommended and under consideration. Many lessons were learned during the process. For example, all VR staff need to be trained in Discovery and aware of the certification efforts; community services providers supervisors need to learn about the process but do not have time to complete the full course; Discovery takes longer than traditional VR vocational evaluation strategies and more. For each challenge listed possible solutions were offered too.
Conclusions:  More and more states will be looking to incorporate CE into public and private VR systems. The information in the article may assist them as they move forward. The model offered may be replicated and the lessons learned should be useful as they implement the approach. More research is needed.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Cerebral palsy
Chronic mental illness
Developmental disabilities
Down syndrome
Dual sensory impairment
Mobility impairment
Multiple sclerosis
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Severe physical disability