Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

From Sheltered to Supported Employment Outcomes: Challenges for Rehabilitation Facilities

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

From Sheltered to Supported Employment Outcomes: Challenges for Rehabilitation Facilities

Article excerpt

This paper examines the organizational change process as it applies to facilities involved in converting from sheltered workshops and day programs to supported employment services. The internal and external factors which motivate facilities to change their service delivery approach are presented. Second, the obstacles challenging facilities and resources for assistance with the implementation of a conversion change process are reviewed. Potential obstacles include attitudinal, administrative, experiential, and logistical barriers. Suggestions of available local and national resources are provided. Program evaluation is an essential component for monitoring outcomes and assessing the costs and benefits to participants. Outcomes to be evaluated and areas for future research to determine the variables that contribute to successful conversion are discussed.

Historically, sheltered workshops and day programs have been the primary service option chosen for individuals with the most severe disabilities receiving services from the vocational rehabilitation system (Wehman & Moon, 1988). The focus of these programs is on providing skill training and work adjustment to prepare individuals for remunerative work in the real business community Hill, Revell, Chernish, Morell, White, Metzler, & McCarthy, 1987). Individuals are expected to progress through a service continuum of pre-employment training, work adjustment, job placement, and time-limited employment services that will result in independent, paid employment. Yet, statistics show that only 12% of sheltered workshop participants move into competitive employment annually with only 3% maintaining this goal after two years (Bellamy, Rhodes, Bourbeau, & Mank, 1986). Furthermore, the high unemployment rate of 50% to 90% is supportive evidence of the ineffectiveness of this traditional placement approach for individuals with severe disabilities (Louis Harris Poll, 1986; U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1983).

Supported employment has developed as an alternative vocational service option to accommodate the individual needs of persons with severe disabilities. These programs are characterized by intensive skill training and on-going support services directly at the employment site after job placement. Attention to the worker's residential and transportation needs are included in this individual model. Supported employment, to a large degree, is targeted for those individuals who are receiving services in sheltered work and day programs or who have been excluded or are waiting for vocational rehabilitation services, and who also require on-going services to remain in integrated, employment situations. The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986 define supported employment as a viable employment outcome in the vocation - Table 1 Steps and Activities for Facility Conversion Define Goals and Objectives

* Evaluate current facility and consumer outcomes

* Assess community resources and funding sources

* Assess goals of consumers and families

* Conduct values clarification workshops for board members

and staff

* Review supported employment programs and literature Reorganize Management Structure

* Develop an organizational change plan with activities and


* Identify potential obstacles and strategies for reducing their


* Redefine role of management in decentralized, oommunity based


* Inform participating agencies and businesses

* Plan strategies for utilizing facility space and completing

existing contracts during conversion process

* Consult a lawyer regarding legal liabilities associated with

conversion Train Staff Competencies

* Redefine staff roles and complete a job description of new


* Maintain current staff or hire new staff

* Develop staff supported competitive employment competencies

using an inservice training approach

* Provide field-based training

* Provide on-going technical assistance

* Assist staff with developing personal goals and provide

evaluative feedback

* Develop team building activities and support networks. …

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