Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Riesen, T., Morgan, R.L., & Griffin, C. (2015). Customized employment: A review of the literature. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 43 (3), 183-193.
Title:  Customized employment: A review of the literature
Authors:  Riesen, T., Morgan, R.L., & Griffin, C.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported
Research design:  Literature review

Structured abstract:

Background:  Competitive integrated employment continues to be elusive to individuals with the most significant disabilities. An examination of employment outcomes, over a 30 year time frame, showed no growth and even declines in the number of individuals with disabilities who were working in real jobs for real pay or integrated employment. Customized Employment (CE) is a strategy that shows promise of improving employment outcomes. A highlight of this approach is to individualize the relationship between employees and employers to make sure both parties have their needs met. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 added CE to the definition of Supported Employment. It also specified strategies to achieve this outcome. From a policy perspective, CE can lead to integrated employment. Integrated employment is in alignment with Employment First initiatives, which call for real work for real pay for all individuals with disabilities, including those with the most severe disabilities, who may be relegated to employment in sheltered work or unemployment in day programs.
Purpose:  Given the policy and legal initiatives calling for integrated employment options, Federal-state Vocational Rehabilitation, employment services providers, researchers, and others need to be aware of empirically substantiated practices. Since CE has emerged as a strategy it is important to review the literature. The purpose of this article was to do that in order to identify the conceptual and empirical basis.
Setting:  There was no setting. This was a review of the literature.
Study sample:  A total of 25 articles were identified based on the search and screening process.
Intervention:  There was no intervention. This is a review of the literature.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control of comparison group. This is a review of the literature.
Data collection and analysis:  An electronic search of articles published between the years 2001 and 2015 was conducted using a variety of databases. Abstracts were screened to be included in the review. These were divided into two groups; non-data articles and data based research.
Findings:  A total of 25 articles were found. Among these, a total of 15 non data based articles were published, between 2006 and 2015. Five of the articles described how CE was used with transition aged youth, nine provided an overview of CE practices and one provided a description of CE systems change initiative. Ten data based articles were published between 2006 and 2013. These articles offered descriptive data; there were no group experimental/quasi-experimental, or single-subject research studies.
Conclusions:  Researchers have not conducted studies to compare CE to other procedures to determine its effectiveness. Without this research, what components of CE lead to successful outcomes or the circumstances that must be emphasized to be effective. are not known. No fidelity measures exist to allow replication across studies. Given the attention, CE has received a lack of empirical evidence supporting its efficacy is surprising; more research is required. Recommendations include validation of the effects of CE, a CE fidelity of implementation scale, research on employer engagement, sustainability and implementation of CE to assist youth and young adults with the transition from school to work. Research to date has helped establish a conceptual framework, provided a framework for implementation, and descriptive evidence that CE practices are improving employment outcomes for individuals with the most significant disabilities.

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