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Resources and Strategies for Competitive Integrated Employment

Introduction

Basic Definitions

  1. "Competitive, integrated employment" is defined as work that
  2. "Customized Employment" (CE) is defined in final WIOA regs, Federal Register, 361.5 (c) (11), as:
  3. Supported Employment definitions and clarifications

Introduction

Competitive Integrated Employment is the foundation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and regulations. It is the common theme in all of the WINTAC topical areas, as well as the work of other technical assistance centers. Successful competitive integrated employment outcomes for people with disabilities correspond with effective VR engagement with a wide range of businesses and workforce development partners.

WIOA and final regulations emphasize the need for VR agencies to increase strategies for successful competitive integrated employment including Supported Employment (SE) and Customized Employment (CE) for those individuals with the most significant disabilities.

WIOA mandates services to business as a customer. This represents a shift in thinking for many state VR agencies whose sole mission has been to provide individualized services for people with disabilities in preparation for entry into the workforce. This toolkit will offer resources and training modules that demonstrate the value of serving both customers.

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Basic Definitions

Here are the basics in understanding the mandated changes in WIOA and the regulations.

  1. "Competitive, integrated employment" is defined as work that:

    1. Is performed on a full-time or part-time basis (including self-employment) and for which an individual is compensated at a rate that -

      1. Is not less than the higher of the rate specified in section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1)) or the rate required under the applicable State or local minimum wage law for the place of employment;
      2. Is not less than the customary rate paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by other employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who are similarly situated in similar occupations by the same employer and who have similar training, experience, and skills; and
      3. In the case of an individual who is self-employed, yields an income that is comparable to the income received by other individuals who are not individuals with disabilities and who are self-employed in similar occupations or on similar tasks and who have similar training, experience, and skills; and
      4. Is eligible for the level of benefits provided to other employees; and
    2. Is at a location --

      1. Typically found in the community; and
      2. Where the employee with a disability interacts for the purpose of performing the duties of the position with other employees within the particular work unit and the entire work site, and, as appropriate to the work performed, other persons (e.g., customers and vendors), who are not individuals with disabilities (not including supervisory personnel or individuals who are providing services to such employee) to the same extent that employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who are in comparable positions interact with these persons; and
    3. Presents, as appropriate, opportunities for advancement that are similar to those for other employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who have similar positions.
      (Authority: Sections 7(5) and 12(c) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; 29 U.S.C. 705(5) and 709(c)) --- (consider referencing RSA’s recent slides on their website from recent WIOA conferences)

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  1. "Customized Employment" (CE) is defined in final WIOA regs, Federal Register, 361.5 (c) (11), as:

    Competitive integrated employment, for an individual with a significant disability, that is:

    1. Based on an individualized determination of the unique strengths, needs, and interests of the individual with a significant disability;
    2. Designed to meet the specific abilities of the individual with a significant disability and the business needs of the employer; and
    3. Carried out through flexible strategies, such as -

      1. Job exploration by the individual; and
      2. Working with an employer to facilitate placement, including -

        1. Customizing a job description based on current employer needs or on previously unidentified and unmet employer needs;
        2. Developing a set of job duties, a work schedule and job arrangement, and specifics of supervision (including performance evaluation and review), and determining a job location;
        3. Using a professional representative chosen by the individual, or if elected self-representation, to work with an employer to facilitate placement; and
        4. Providing services and supports at the job location.

     

    • Customized Employment Essential Elements & Recommendations for Customized Employment Practices define and elaborate this service delivery approach
       
    • Although Customized Employment is considered part of Supported Employment (SE) in WIOA regulation, CE is delineated as a separate set of tools and strategies to achieve competitive integrated employment
       
    • The "Discussion Section" elaborates on CE as follows (WIOA, Federal Register):

      Customized employment is an alternative that enables individuals with disabilities and employers the opportunity to negotiate job tasks and/or reassign basic job duties to improve overall production in the workplace. For employers, customized employment allows an employer to examine its specific workforce needs and fulfill those needs with a well-matched employee. Customized employment services are included in the list of allowable vocational rehabilitation services in final §361.48(b). DSUs may expend their resources, including program funds, on supporting individuals in customized employment when appropriate…and must lead to competitive integrated employment.

    • The Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) provides additional Customized Employment resources

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  1. Supported Employment definitions and clarifications

    Supported Employment definition:

    1. Supported employment means competitive integrated employment, including customized employment, or employment in an integrated work setting in which an individual with a most significant disability, including a youth with a most significant disability, is working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment that is individualized, and customized, consistent with the unique strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice of the individual, including with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities -

      1. For whom competitive integrated employment has not historically occurred, or for whom competitive integrated employment has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability; and
      2. Who, because of the nature and severity of their disabilities, need intensive supported employment services and extended services after the transition from support provided by the designated State unit, in order to perform this work.
    2. For purposes of this part, an individual with a most significant disability, whose supported employment in an integrated setting does not satisfy the criteria of competitive integrated employment, as defined in paragraph (c)(9) of this section is considered to be working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment so long as the individual can reasonably anticipate achieving competitive integrated employment -

      1. Within six months of achieving a supported employment outcome; or
      2. In limited circumstances, within a period not to exceed 12 months from the achievement of the supported employment outcome, if a longer period is necessary based on the needs of the individual, and the individual has demonstrated progress toward competitive earnings based on information contained in the service record.

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    Supported employment services means ongoing support services, including customized employment, and other appropriate services needed to support and maintain an individual with a most significant disability, including a youth with a most significant disability, in supported employment that are:

    1. Organized and made available, singly or in combination, in such a way as to assist an eligible individual to achieve competitive integrated employment;
    2. Based on a determination of the needs of an eligible individual, as specified in an individualized plan for employment;
    3. Provided by the designated State unit for a period of time not to exceed 24 months, unless under special circumstances the eligible individual and the rehabilitation counselor jointly agree to extend the time to achieve the employment outcome identified in the individualized plan for employment; and
    4. Following transition, as post-employment services that are unavailable from an extended services provider and that are necessary to maintain or regain the job placement or advance in employment.

    NOTE: RSA recently clarified that SE funds can only be utilized for activities to support individuals once those individuals are placed on a Supported Employment worksite.

Supported employment services are also addresses under "Extended Services for Youth with Disabilities" as follows:

Supported employment service may be also be utilized as part of extended services for "youth with the most significant disabilities" for a period not to exceed four years or until such time as a youth reaches the age of 25 and no longer meets the definition of a "youth with a disability" per final §361.5(c)(58). Extended services means ongoing support services and other appropriate services that are needed to support and maintain an individual with a most significant disability in supported employment and that are provided by a State agency, a private nonprofit organization, employer, or any other appropriate resource, from funds other than funds received under this part and 34 CFR part 363 after an individual with a most significant disability ;has made the transition from support provided by the designated State unit. (Authority: Section 12(c) of the Act; 29 U.S.C. 709(c))

"RSA FAQs" released September of 2016 regarding Supportive Employment grant funding: U.S. Department of Education - Frequently-Asked Questions

RSA's recent technical assistance regarding key aspects of WIOA implementation

You may want to sign up for RSA's email subscription page for email updates on a variety of topics relevant to the VR program.

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