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Self-Directed Employment for People with Developmental Disabilities: Issues, Characteristics, and Illustrations

by Jo-Ann Sowers, Debra McLean, and Cynthia Owens

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There is a growing belief that to affect the persistently high unemployment rate of individuals with developmental disabilities, a paradigm shift from professional- to customer-directed services must occur. Using this approach, individuals will:

  1. have the knowledge they need to make informed choices and to direct the employment process

  2. choose from the full array of job and career choices available to other individuals in their communities

  3. receive individual and ongoing advice and support

  4. begin the employment service process by defining their career goals and paths

  5. have individual budgets that reflect their unique career goals and paths

  6. determine the services and supports they will use their funding to purchase

  7. contract directly with service providers.

There are many unanswered questions about how a customer- directed employment service system can most effectively and efficiently be structured and how it affects customers, providers, and funding agencies.

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