Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Supported Employment Programs in Maryland: Personnel Issues and Training Needs

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Supported Employment Programs in Maryland: Personnel Issues and Training Needs

Article excerpt

With the implementation of supported employment programs in recent years, a number of issues have been identified, which relate to staffing patterns, training needs, and the delineation of new roles for personnel (Everson & Moon, 1987; Parent, Hill, & Wehman, 1989; Renzaglia & Everson, 1990). Supported employment, with its shift from facility-based to community-based training, requires the acquisition of new skills by personnel, as well as redefinition of roles and functions of both direct service personnel and administrators (Everson & Moon, 1987; Kregel & Sale,1988).

An obvious shift in staffing patterns has been the increase in the number of job coaches oe employment specialists, along with the use of a range of titles by those filling such positions (Wehman & Melia, 1985; Wehman & Moon, 1985). Concerns regarding the professional role and status of job coaches or employment specialists have received attention in terms of recruiting and retaining qualified personnel (Winking, DeStefano, & Rusch, 1988; Winking, Trach, Rusch, & Tines, 1989). Staffing patterns have also been discussed relative to the responsibilities of supported employment program administrators and supervisors of direct service personnel (Kregel & Sale, 1988; Parent, Hill, 1990).

Staff training needs have been addressed by identifying competencies needed by direct service personnel (Cohen, Patton, & Melia, 1985; Parent, Hill, 1990; Renzaglia & Everson, 1990) and by program managers (Brooke, Sale & Moon, in press). Guidelines for incorporating training competencies into personnel training programs have also been suggested (Baker & Geiger, 1988; Cobb, Hasazi, Collins, & Salembier, 1988; Kregel & Sale, 1988; Wehman & Kregel, 1988; Wehman & Melia, 1985). Information on the educational backgrounds of supported employment personnel, while limited, provides insights into both the qualifications of those currently providing services and the need for relevant and immediate training activities (Renzaglia & Everson, 1990; Winking et al., 1989).

Research and demonstration efforts to date have provided initial direction for personnel preparation and training. However, as Renzaglia and Everson (1990) pointed out, "because supported employment programs are just beginning to be fully implemented across the nation, it is difficult to accurately estimate the number of existing personnel that need additional training and the number of projected personnel that will need training" (p.396). Also at issue is how adult service agencies have coped with personnel needs in implementing supported employment programs through federally funded initiatives aimed at state-wide systems change. Although supported employment is often an integral part of adult service agencies, the divergence in role between those providing direct services on job sites and those providing vocational services within the agency (Winking et al., 1988), necessitates a consequent differentiation in training.

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, the results of a survey of supported employment programs in the State of Maryland are presented, which identify current and projected personnel roles, educational backgrounds and training needs. Maryland was one of 10 states awarded a five-year grant by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in 1985 to provide training and technical assistance to service providers and employers in creating supported employment opportunities. A second purpose is to identify collaborative programs or linkages between adult supported employment service providers and secondary special education programs. Supported employment has been suggested as a viable option within public school settings (Wehman & Kregel, 1985), however, little is known about actual linkages or effective practices facilitating the transition of students with severe disabilities to supported employment programs. …

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