Since the mid-1980s, individuals with significant developmental disabilities and chronic mental illness have been proving their abilities and potential to contribute in the workplace through supported employment.
Supported employment means a job in a typical business with support services, such as a job coach or natural supports. Natural supports are family members, friends, or co-workers who can provide support related to the job.
Supported employment is an option for individuals served by Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) whose disabilities are so significant that they need ongoing support to maintain their jobs.
- Is work for pay at the same rates as those paid to persons with no disabilities
- Occurs in an integrated, natural work setting where people without disabilities are also employed
- Involves individuals with severe disabilities
- Entails on-the-job training that is often provided by a job coach
- Maintains support services to the worker after initiation to and for the duration of the job. Supports may include arranging transportation, training or retraining the supported worker, developing natural supports, or acting as a consultant to the business
- Promotes social integration, productivity, and maximum use of a person's skills and abilities
A fairly well-defined set of strategies--job procurement and/or creation, job analysis, matching workers with jobs, and on-the-job training techniques--has contributed to the success of supported employment.
The concept has become a way for persons with severe developmental disabilities to reduce their dependence on public assistance while increasing their independence, choices, and self-esteem.
In 1998, Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the Department of Community Health jointly developed supported employment guidelines to maintain standards and promote consistency across this statewide, collaborative effort.