5.12 Standards for Supported Employment Services

5.12.1 Supported Employment (SE) Services Overview

Supported Employment (SE) is a "place then train" model, which is a two-part process:

  1. place a consumer with the most significant disabilities in a competitive job, and then
  2. provide training and support directly related to the job.

Unlike the traditional VR model, which provides job readiness and other training activities to prepare a consumer for employment, this model is more appropriate for consumers with the most significant disabilities. Problems transferring knowledge from an artificial training situation to a real job are eliminated, because the focus is on finding the best job match and providing training for that particular job.

For consumers to be eligible for SE services, they must meet the DARS definition of most significant disability as determined by the VRC. Consumers must

  • have three or more limited functional capacities, and
  • require Extended Services and supports to be successfully employed.

Consumers with the most significant disabilities who have any of the following challenges or needs are appropriate for SE services:

  • Competitive integrated employment for the consumer has not occurred or has been interrupted or intermittent.
  • Consumer has not benefited from traditional VR services.
  • Consumer requires considerable assistance competing in the open job market.
  • Consumer has had difficulty finding an appropriate job match.
  • Consumer can maintain competitive integrated employment with necessary supports in place.
  • Consumer will need another person, organization, or other resource to provide the Extended Services and supports after the VR-funded services end.

SE services enable consumers with the most significant disabilities to enter competitive integrated employment by providing

  • individualized assistance finding the most appropriate job match, and
  • ongoing support within the work environment.

SE services are for consumers who have been unable to find or maintain employment through traditional VR approaches and training programs.

Consumers in SE need assistance to

  • compete in the open market,
  • meet potential employers, and
  • receive ongoing supports to maintain a job.

Often, these consumers have been

  • excluded from community services;
  • institutionalized; or
  • in segregated work programs such as sheltered workshops for long periods.

An SE service provider seeks the best possible match between a consumer's skills, interests, abilities, and support needs and the employer's unmet business needs. In many cases, these jobs need to be carved out or created for a good job match to be made. The employment specialist or job skills trainer addresses any barriers to employment the consumer might have and may provide short-term support, while natural supports (such as peers or co-workers) are being arranged to meet the consumer's long-term needs. An employer who hires a consumer in SE should provide training for the consumer just as he or she would for other new employees, with help and support from the DARS counselor and the employment specialist. The SE specialist should ensure that adequate support is provided to the consumer by the job skills trainer on a routine basis. The SE specialist works in coordination with the VRC throughout the SE process to ensure the best possible employment outcome for the consumer.

5.12.2 Supported Employment (SE) Definitions

Benchmarks

Benchmarks are specific employment outcomes for which payments are made to the provider during the course of the SE process. 

These include

  • Benchmark 1A: Supported Employment Assessment (SEA);
  • Benchmark 1B: Supported Employment Services Plan (SESP) Part 1;
  • Benchmark 2: Job Placement and SESP Part 2;
  • Benchmark 3: Four-Week Job Maintenance;
  • Benchmark 4: Eight-Week Job Maintenance;
  • Benchmark 5: Job Stability; and
  • Benchmark 6: Service Closure.

 

Competitive Integrated Employment

Competitive integrated employment is work in the competitive labor market

  • that is performed full-time (or the maximum number of hours possible) in an integrated work setting; and
  • for which the person is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities.

 

Discovery Process

The discovery process entails collecting information about the consumer through interviews and observations of his or her abilities in multiple settings on multiple occasions. Research indicates that the discovery process may take as many as 20 to 30 hours per consumer (The Job Developer's Handbook, Griffin, Hammis, Geary).

 

Extended Services and Supports

Extended Services and supports may be needed to maintain the employment outcome after a consumer's VR case has been closed. Extended Services and supports involve either on-or off-site monitoring (as requested by the consumer or legal representative) for as long as needed to ensure the consumer's job stability. These services are provided and funded by sources other than DARS and may include the employer. Both natural supports and paid supports, including Long-Term Supports and Services provided by other state and federal programs, can be used to facilitate Extended Services.

Long-Term Supports and Services (LTSS) are Extended Services and supports available through the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) or Texas Deoartment of State Health Services (DSHS). The counselor should get a copy of the individual service plan from the LTSS case manager or service coordinator. The service "Supported Employment," detailing the provider and the amount of units authorized, should be included on the plan when LTSS are used to provide any of the Extended Services and supports a consumer may need to maintain employment before the counselor closes the case. For assistance in coordinating with DADS, contact the program specialist for benefits and DADS.

 

Integrated Work Setting

An integrated work setting provides an environment where consumers with disabilities regularly interact with nondisabled employees and/or the general public.

 

Most Significant Disability

Most Significant Disability is a term used to describe a consumer who

  • can be expected to require multiple VR services for an extended period of time; and
  • has a severe physical or mental impairment that seriously limits three or more functional capacities such as mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, interpersonal skills, work tolerance, or work skills as they relate to achieving and/or maintaining competitive integrated employment.

 

Natural Supports

Natural supports are supports that exist naturally in a workplace and the community.

These are supports provided to an employee from supervisors and co-workers, such as mentoring, friendship, socializing at breaks or after work, providing feedback on job performance, or learning a new skill together. Friends, family, or volunteers who support the consumer's success with maintaining employment can also provide natural supports outside of the worksite. Examples of supports provided away from the worksite could include providing transportation, reporting of earned income to the Social Security Administration (SSA), providing feedback on attire and hygiene, or assisting with medication management. When natural support resources are not available, paid supports not funded by DARS can be used to ensure that a consumer maintains long-term employment.

 

Negotiable Employment Conditions

Negotiable Employment Conditions are preferences for working conditions and the things that a consumer would like the placement provider to consider when looking for suitable employment.

 

Non-negotiable Employment Conditions

Non-negotiable Employment Conditions are those conditions that a consumer and counselor have indicated must or must not be present in an employment placement. The placement provider must always assure these conditions are met when looking for an employment placement for the consumer.

Examples of non-negotiable conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • The job needs to be on a particular bus route.
  • The consumer must earn a certain dollar amount per hour.
  • The consumer must work at least 15 but no more than 20 hours per week.
  • The job must not require duties the consumer is unwilling to perform.
  • The worksite must allow for an onsite job coach.

 

Person-Centered Planning

In person-centered planning, the process and the products are owned and controlled by the person (consumer). The process creates a comprehensive portrait of who the person is and what the person wants to do with his or her life. It brings together all the people who are important to the person, including family members, friends, neighbors, support workers, and other professionals. This team identifies the skills and abilities that can help the person achieve his or her goals for competitive integrated employment, independent living, continuing education, and full inclusion in the community. The team also identifies areas in which the person may need assistance and support and decides how it can best meet those needs.

 

Quality Criteria

Quality Criteria are points of reference used by DARS counselors and VR staff when they review provider documentation and services rendered to determine whether certain conditions and outcomes were achieved by the consumer and/or the provider. Quality Criteria, which must be effectively documented on the appropriate DARS reporting forms, must be met before the DARS counselor may authorize payment to the provider.

 

Significant Disability

Significant Disability is a term used to describe a consumer who

  • can be expected to require multiple VR services for an extended period of time; and
  • has a severe physical or mental impairment that seriously limits one or more functional capacities such as mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, interpersonal skills, work tolerance, or work skills as they relate to achieving and/or maintaining competitive integrated employment.

 

Social Security Administration/Vocational Rehabilitation (SSA/VR) Employment Network

For providers who are also employment networks as defined by the SSA, see 5.13 SSA/VR Ticket to Work Partnership Plus—EN Employment Advancement Payments.

 

Supported Employment

Supported Employment (SE) is competitive employment in an integrated work setting, consistent with the consumer's

  • strengths,
  • resources,
  • priorities,
  • concerns,
  • abilities,
  • capabilities,
  • interests, and
  • informed choice.

SE services are appropriate for the consumer with the most significant disabilities who meets all the following criteria:

  • The consumer has not worked or has worked only intermittently, in competitive integrated employment.
  • The consumer has been determined eligible for VR services based on a comprehensive assessment, including consideration of SE as an employment outcome.
  • The consumer needs Extended Services to maintain employment following successful VR closure.
  • The consumer can maintain competitive integrated employment with necessary supports.

This definition includes transitional employment for people with the most significant disabilities caused by chronic mental illness.

 

Transitional Employment for Consumers with Chronic Mental Illness

Transitional employment is a series of temporary job placements in competitive integrated employment in integrated work settings for consumers who need support services on or off the worksite. In transitional employment, the SE services must include continuing job placements until a suitable employment outcome is achieved.

5.12.3 Staff Qualifications

Before services are provided to DARS consumers, the staff person overseeing the provider's SE services (director, program manager, supervisor, etc.) must complete the Provider Orientation and Training, which is provided by the DARS contract manager and the regional program support specialist for DBS. The training focuses on the SE outcome-based standards, forms, contract compliance, and Quality Criteria. After being trained, this person must provide similar training to the staff members who will provide direct services to DARS consumers, as well as document the training in the personnel files.

 

Employment Specialist

An employment specialist must meet the education and experience qualifications in one of the following three options:

Option 1

  • a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation, business, marketing, or related human services; and
  • one year's documented experience in a professional or personal setting routinely working with people with disabilities.

Option 2

  • an associate's degree in rehabilitation, business, marketing, or related human services; and
  • two years' documented experience in a professional or personal setting routinely working with people with disabilities.

Option 3

  • a high school diploma or GED; and
  • three years' documented experience in a professional or personal setting routinely working with people with disabilities.

 

UNT Certification Required of Employment Specialists

(Revised 08/12, 12/14)

In addition to the Provider Orientation and Training described above, employment specialists must have the UNT Certification for SE specialists. Completion of certification must be documented in the contract files.

All employment specialists are encouraged to attend at least one continuing education class per year to increase their skills in placing consumers in the job market.

 

Job Skills Trainer

A job skills trainer must have

  • a high school diploma or GED, and
  • one year of experience of working with people who have disabilities.

In addition to the Provider Orientation and Training described above, job skills trainers must complete the UNT Certification for job skills trainer. Completion of training must be documented in the contract files. It is a best practice for the job skills trainer to work under the direction of the SE specialist.

5.12.4 Provider Responsibilities

All provider staff members must:

  • maintain effective and professional consumer and employer relations;
  • provide services as outlined in the Standards Manual;
  • document consumer-related and employment-related information and services as outlined in the Standards Manual;
  • achieve all Quality Criteria for services rendered; and
  • maintain effective verbal and written communications with DARS counselors, employers, and consumers.

DARS counselors are responsible for overseeing services provided to consumers. If the above general standards are not being met, the DARS Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) specialist or the DBS regional program support specialist reviews staff concerns and may require that the provider develop an action plan to address them. Continued failure to meet standards could result in adverse action against the provider.

5.12.5 Supported Employment (SE) Process

The following general rules apply to the SE process.

The supported employment (SE) provider must be contracted by DARS and must receive a written authorization for services from the DARS counselor before providing the SE services.

Job placement must be in an organization or a business that is not owned, operated, controlled, or governed by the community rehabilitation program (CRP) providing the SE service. CRPs that are state agencies or state universities are exempt from this requirement.

Job placement is complete when the consumer is placed and has completed five consecutive calendar days on the job in accordance with the job matches indicated on the SESP Part 1.

The provider must submit required documentation of provided services along with an invoice. The DARS counselor verifies that services were delivered and completed. The counselor reviews the documentation to ensure that all Quality Criteria have been achieved.

The DARS counselor may return incomplete documentation to be completed before authorizing payment.

If the consumer wants to change his or her targeted job tasks, negotiable employment conditions, or non-negotiable employment conditions at any point in the process, the SESP Part 1 must be revised in an additional SESP Part 1 meeting.

If the consumer loses his or her job at any point in the process, the consumer's progress within the benchmark is discontinued until the consumer becomes re-employed. Benchmark progress continues when the consumer becomes employed in a new position, and the SESP Part 2 is revised to reflect the new position.

If the consumer loses his or her job and requires placement in a new job, the counselor, the consumer, and the SE provider meet to:

  • discuss the reasons the consumer lost the job;
  • review the SESP Part 1, creating a new SESP Part 1 if needed; and
  • determine the plan for gaining another placement.

Any gap in employment greater than eight weeks results in a new employment period. Therefore, the consumer must complete a minimum of 30 cumulative calendar days of employment in the new job before employment is considered to be stable. The 30 days do not have to be consecutive, and there is no time limit within which they must be completed.

If the consumer changes jobs between Benchmarks 3 and 4, or Benchmarks 4 and 5, a minimum of 30 calendar days of employment in the new job is required before employment is considered to be stable. The 30 days do not have to be consecutive, and there is no time limit within which they must be completed.

The consumer must be meeting the expectations of the employer, and the Extended Services and supports must be identified on the current DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary, before the counselor can consider the consumer to be stable in the job.

A payment for each benchmark is made only once to an SE provider, even if the consumer loses a job after the completion of a benchmark and continues to receive services with that same SE provider. If the consumer chooses a new SE provider, the new SE provider and the DARS counselor negotiate the benchmark at which the consumer begins, and the benchmark may be purchased a second time from a new SE provider.

The SE outcome-based system is a comprehensive service package that may encompass a variety of services traditionally purchased separately. Therefore, the following vocational rehabilitation services cannot be purchased when a consumer is receiving SE services:

  • Vocational Assessment
  • Job Readiness
  • Job Placement
  • On-the-Job Training
  • Vocational Adjustment training
  • Work Adjustment Training
  • Personal Adjustment Training
  • Job Coaching

5.12.6 Benchmark 1A: Discovery, Supported Employment Assessment, Review Meeting, and Supported Employment Services Plan 1

Service Description

 

Benchmark 1A: Discovery, Supported Employment Assessment (SEA), and the Review Meeting

 

Discovery

If a consumer has a supported employment (SE) goal, discovery is conducted by the employment specialist. While there is no set standard for how much time a provider spends with a consumer during discovery, research suggests that providers should spend as many as 20 to 30 hours on the discovery process to observe the consumer's abilities, challenges, and resources, as well as to collect information from professional and nonprofessional supports in the consumer's life. The process includes exploring options related to wages, employment outcomes, and self-employment outcomes; including interests, capabilities, preferences, ongoing support needs; and Extended Services and supports required at and away from the job site that are necessary for employment success.

Discovery activities include:

  • exploring options related to wages and employment outcomes;
  • identifying options for Extended Services and supports that will be used for successful employment;
  • observing the consumer's work skills and behaviors at home and in the community environment and/or touring with the consumer in current or potential work environments;
  • collecting personal and employer reference information;
  • assessing the consumer's learning style and needs for adaptive technology, accommodations, and on-site supports; and
  • assessing the consumer's strengths, challenges, and transferable skills from previous job placements.

Supported Employment Assessment (SEA)

The discovery process enables the provider to gather information necessary to answer all the questions on the DARS1612, Supported Employment Assessment. The report must describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has an accurate understanding of who the consumer is and the consumer's employment goals. DARS recommends that the person-centered planning process be used when collecting information for the SEA.

The SEA must focus on the consumer's:

  • support needs that may be necessary for successful employment, including self-employment;
  • interests, skills, and functional abilities related to daily living, employment, and recreation; and
  • support needs that family, friends, and professionals provide to help the consumer maintain a quality life at home and in the community (for example, financial assistance, room and board, supervision for safety, and transportation).

The SEA must be submitted to the DARS counselor at least one week before the SEA review meeting. The DARS counselor reviews the SEA in accordance with the Quality Criteria. If the Quality Criteria are not achieved, the SEA is returned to the provider so the needed information can be added before the SEA review meeting.

SEA Review Meeting

The SEA review meeting is a meeting with the DARS counselor, consumer, and employment specialist following the completion of the discovery process and SEA. This meeting may happen in conjunction with Benchmark 1B. The SEA review meeting includes a discussion of SE, determines what employment outcome, if any, will be pursued, and identifies the type of documentation needed next. SEA information and recommendations are used to develop the DARS1614, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 2.

Required Documentation

The SEA DARS1612, Supported Employment Assessment is required documentation and must:

  • include supporting documentation to determine support-needs tier for SE in the planning meeting;
  • provide enough information to determine one or more appropriate job matches, or to support the consumer's pursuit of a self-employment outcome;
  • identify specific support needs and/or interventions;
  • demonstrate that interests, assets, and abilities in work and nonwork areas were explored, identified, and appropriately summarized to enable the employment specialist to market the consumer to potential employers or to enable the pursuit of a self-employment outcome; and
  • be signed by the employment specialist who actually performed the discovery work with the consumer and completed the SEA form.

See Quality Criteria for the SEA.

Outcome

Benchmark 1A is complete when the DARS1612, Supported Employment Assessment, has been completed by the employment specialist and approved by the DARS counselor.

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 1A (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves:

  • the DARS1612, Supported Employment Assessment;
  • completion of the SEA meeting; and
  • an invoice.

Benchmark 1B: Supported Employment Services Plan (SESP) Part 1

Supported Employment Services Plan (SESP) Part 1

Benchmark

The SESP Part 1 is completed after the SEA and the SEA review meeting.

SESP Part 1 (DARS1613, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1) must be completed during an SESP Part 1 meeting and signed by all parties at the conclusion of the meeting. The SESP meetings are planning with the consumer, counselor, and provider. They should be held in person to allow all parties to participate in the discussion. The provider should not bring a completed DARS1613 to the meeting or complete the DARS1613 after conclusion of the meeting. The DARS counselor or designee will complete the DARS 1613 while the provider is facilitating the planning meeting to ensure that all input is captured correctly on the SE service plan. The completed DARS1613 should be signed by all parties at the conclusion of the meeting.

The SESP Part 1 (DARS1613) is developed and implemented with the consumer leading or assisted by team members. It identifies interests, preferences, and skills related to setting the long-term placement goal. Both the DARS counselor and the SE provider ensure that group discussions during SESP Part 1 include recommendations and strategies outlined in the SEA. The SESP Part 1 meeting typically is one to two hours long and is facilitated by the SE provider.

The SESP Part 1 identifies:

  • members of the SESP team;
  • consumer preferences and/or interests;
  • consumer assets and/or abilities;
  • negotiable and non-negotiable employment conditions;
  • potential Extended Services and support needs of the consumer;
  • targeted job tasks the consumer can perform or potentially perform; and
  • potential employers.

Team Members

Members of the consumer's SESP team must include:

  • the consumer;
  • the consumer's representative, if any;
  • the SE services provider; and
  • the DARS counselor.

The team may include other significant people whom the consumer wants to invite and who may potentially help achieve successful employment for the consumer or be a long-term support for the consumer. Significant people may include:

  • teachers;
  • case managers;
  • neighbors;
  • counselors;
  • siblings;
  • friends;
  • business owners; and/or
  • church members.

The team maintains ongoing communication throughout the process to ensure that SE outcomes are achieved.

Team members can help to:

  • identify a possible placement;
  • provide short- and long-term supports (including long-term Extended Services) to ensure employment success; and
  • motivate the consumer.

Preferences and Interests

Preferences and interests are specific types of work or activities in which the person would like to engage. Examples are:

  • Working in an office
  • Working with children
  • Teaching others
  • Working with computers

Preferences and interests can also be stated in negative terms (for example, "no fast food restaurant employment"). Information must be consistent with the SEA. Although the final job placement does not have to include all the listed preferences and interests, they should be prioritized during the meeting.

Assets and Abilities

Assets and abilities are the skills and traits the consumer offers a potential employer.

These may include:

  • personality traits;
  • interests;
  • skills; and
  • talents.

Information must be consistent with the SEA.

Employment Conditions

Employment conditions are characteristics that are important to the consumer and relevant to his or her support needs with respect to employment.

Conditions include:

  • environmental considerations (for example, indoors, outdoors, or crowded);
  • learning and training considerations;
  • safety issues;
  • transportation;
  • work hours (number of hours, shift, days);
  • specific anticipated support needs (for example, medications, toileting, redirecting); and
  • social and/or communication considerations.

SESP information must be consistent with information provided in the SEA.

The SESP Part 1 identifies which employment conditions are "negotiable" and "non-negotiable" as identified by the consumer and others. Employment conditions must be written in measureable terms so that each person has a clear understanding of the needs to be addressed. The placement must meet all non-negotiable employment conditions and the majority (50 percent or more) of the negotiable employment conditions listed in the SESP Part l.

Potential Extended Services and Support Needs of the Consumer

Extended Services and supports (sometimes referred to as long-term supports or services) may involve either on-site or off-site monitoring or delivery of services necessary for the consumer to maintain employment after DARS case closure. The Extended Services and supports are provided for as long as the consumer needs them and as long as the consumer or legal representative requests them.

Extended Services and supports identified must be consistent with the SEA and are updated throughout the consumer's employment.

Some examples of Extended Services and supports include:

  • job performance monitoring;
  • job skill training (short-term) for new job tasks added to job duties or to improve performance;
  • setting up compensatory strategies;
  • earned income reporting to the Social Security Administration;
  • services such as medication management, attendant care, and counseling;
  • business venture supports such as bookkeeping, marketing, and managing data or inventories; and
  • transportation.

Frequency of Extended Services and supports can be daily, weekly, monthly, or as identified.

Extended Services and supports are rendered and funded by sources other than DARS. Sources may include Social Security Employment Networks, Social Security Plan for Acheiving Self Support (PASS), property essential to self-support (PESS), or Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE), Medicaid Waiver, parents, family, friends, churches, and nonprofits.

Possible resources for Extended Services and supports must be identified as part of the SESP Part 1 and updated throughout the process. When all other resources to pay for Extended Services and supports have been exhausted, a provider may offer to provide the supports on a fee-for-service basis. Such supports may be funded through a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) or Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE), or they may be paid by the consumer or family. The cost of these supports must be disclosed to the consumer, the consumer must agree to that fee as part of the SESP Part 1 process, and the fee must be added to the consumer's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). The community rehabilitation program provider will not attempt to collect any fees from the consumer or his or her family for services provided before DARS case closure.

Targeted Job Tasks

Targeted job tasks identified by the team are tasks the consumer can currently or potentially perform.

Information must be consistent with the:

  • SEA;
  • employment conditions; and
  • the consumer's preferences and/or interests.

Job tasks are not the same as job titles. Job titles are titles given to a group of duties (for example, administrative assistant), and job tasks describe specific activities (for example, filing, greeting customers, stocking shelves). Vague descriptions such as "kitchen helper" are not acceptable.

Potential Employers

Potential employers are specific employers or industries in the consumer's preferred or desired geographical boundaries where the identified job tasks might be performed. The list should be prioritized. If a member of the SESP Part 1 team has a potential job lead or contact, that information should be included.

Required Documentation

The DARS1613, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1 is required and must include:

  • preferences and/or interests;
  • assets and/or abilities;
  • employment conditions;
  • potential extended services and support needs;
  • targeted job tasks;
  • potential employers; and
  • the signatures of:
    • the consumer (or the signature of the consumer's legal representative);
    • the employment specialist; and
    • the counselor.

See Quality Criteria for SESP Part 1.

Outcome

Benchmark 1B is complete when the DARS1613, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1 (SESP Part 1) has been completed by the Supported Employment provider, signed by the appropriate parties, and approved by the DARS counselor.

The DARS1613 indicates whether the provider is eligible for any Employment Premium Services payments.

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 1B is made upon receipt of a completed, accurate, and signed DARS1613, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1, and invoice.

5.12.7 Benchmark 2: Job Placement and SESP Part 2

Service Description

Job Placement

Job placement is complete when the consumer has begun work (completed at least one workday) in a job consistent with job matches identified in the SESP Part 1.

The job does not have to be an exact match from the employer list or job task list. However, the job match must meet identified non-negotiable conditions to be considered an acceptable job.

Activities related to obtaining a job placement may include

  • writing résumés and proposals to assist in placement;
  • contacting employers from target lists and developing consumer jobs;
  • performing job analysis;
  • reviewing job match information;
  • assisting the consumer with job applications, pre-employment forms, practice interviews, and pre-employment testing or physicals;
  • accompanying consumer to interviews and company visits;
  • assisting the employer with Work Opportunity Tax Credit;
  • developing the consumer's transportation plan;
  • training the consumer on how to travel to and from the job; and
  • evaluating the job placement to collect information needed to complete the SESP Part 2.

 

SESP Part 2

The SESP Part 2 (DARS1614, Supported Employment Support Plan—Part 2) is a written report that acts as a "blueprint" of the placement and short- and long-term training and/or supports needs of the consumer. It includes the following job details:

  • employer's name,
  • employer's address,
  • employer's phone number,
  • date consumer began paid employment,
  • job title or position,
  • number of hours worked per week,
  • hourly wage,
  • supervisor name,
  • supervisor phone number,
  • essential work duties of the job and needed accommodations,
  • episodic work duties of the job and needed accommodations,
  • physical and environmental demands and needed accommodations,
  • analysis of work culture and any training or support issues,
  • description of initial and ongoing training provided by the employer and needed accommodations, and
  • consumer's support plan.

 

Required Documentation

The SESP Part 2 (DARS1614, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 2) is required. Details in the report should describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has a "clear picture" of the job duties the consumer will be performing, the work culture, and any short- or long-term employment. The form must include the signatures of the consumer (or legally authorized representative) and the direct SE services provider.

See Quality Criteria for SESP Part 2.

 

Outcome

Benchmark 2 is complete when the following has been completed by the provider and approved by the DARS counselor:

  • SESP Part 2 (DARS1614, Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 2), documenting that the consumer has begun working and completed five cumulative calendar days of employment in a job that
    • is in an integrated work setting,
    • is compensated at or above the minimum wage but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities,
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • meets at least one targeted job task established in the consumer's SESP Part 1.

 

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 2 (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves the

  • DARS1614, Supported Employment Support Plan—Part 2; and
  • an invoice.

5.12.8 Benchmark 3: Four-Week Job Maintenance

Service Description

Intensive on- and off-job site supports are provided to help the consumer adjust to the demands of the integrated work environment. 

Activities may include

  • orienting and training the consumer in work-related tasks;
  • job skills training at the job site;
  • training or consulting with employers, co-workers, or advocates to maximize natural supports;
  • transportation training;
  • meetings with managers and supervisors to gain input and plan training;
  • problem resolution meetings with company personnel or support systems to ensure job retention; and
  • training in work-related tasks or behaviors to ensure job retention (for example, grooming or anger management).

 

Required Documentation

The DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary is required and should be written in positive, clear, descriptive English. Details in the report should describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has a "clear picture" of the consumer's support needs, abilities, and challenges related to the placement.

To be considered complete, the DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary must

  • verify that the consumer has been working for four weeks (28 days) cumulatively;
  • verify that the consumer maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions; and
    • meets at least one targeted job task established in the consumer's SESP Part 1;
  • verify that the provider interacted with the consumer at or away from the job site in accordance with the support plan defined in SESP Part 2;
  • describe how specific support needs identified in the SESP Part 2 are being addressed; and
  • explain how emerging support needs are being met.

The form must include signatures of the consumer (or consumer's legally authorized representative) and the direct SE provider.

See Quality Criteria for Four-Week Job Maintenance.

 

Outcome

Benchmark 3 is complete when the consumer has

  • maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets at least one targeted job task,
    • is in an integrated work setting,
    • is compensated at or above the minimum wage but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities, and
    • matches the employment goal and targeted job tasks established in the consumer's SESP Part 1;
  • worked successfully for four weeks (28 days) cumulatively;
  • received the support services defined in the SESP Part 2; and
  • had new and emerging support needs addressed as needed.

If transitional employment for consumers with chronic mental illness is specified in the SESP Part 1, the benchmark is four weeks (28 days) cumulatively of employment, but not necessarily at the same job. Additionally the SE provider responds to any support-need changes identified by the consumer and/or the employer.

 

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 3 (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves

  • the DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary; and
  • an invoice.

5.12.9 Benchmark 4: Eight-Week Job Maintenance

Service Description

On- and off-job site supports are provided to help the consumer adjust to integrated work environment demands. 

Services may include

  • job skills training at the job site;
  • training or consulting with employers, co-workers, or advocates to maximize natural supports;
  • transportation training;
  • meetings with managers and supervisors to gain input and plan training;
  • problem-resolution meetings with company personnel or support systems to ensure job retention; and
  • training in work-related tasks or behaviors to ensure job retention (for example, grooming or anger management).

 

Required Documentation

The DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary is required and should be written in positive, clear, descriptive English. Details in the report should describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has a "clear picture" of the consumer's support needs, abilities, and challenges related to the placement.

To be considered complete, the DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary must

  • verify that the consumer has been working for 8 weeks (56 days) cumulatively;
  • verify that the consumer maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • meets at least one targeted job task listed in the SESP Part 1;
  • verify that the provider interacted with the consumer as defined in the SESP Part 2 at or away from the job site during the time between the 4-week and 8-week benchmarks,
  • describe how specific support needs identified in the SESP Parts 1 and 2 have been addressed; and
  • explain how emerging support needs are being met.

The form must include signatures of the consumer, consumer's representative (if any), and the direct SE provider.

See Quality Criteria for Eight-Week Job Maintenance.

 

Outcome

Benchmark 4 is complete when the consumer has

  • maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • matches the employment goal and targeted job tasks established in the consumer's SESP Part 1;
    • is in an integrated work setting;
    • is compensated at or above the minimum wage but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities;
  • worked successfully for 8 weeks (56 days) cumulatively;
  • received the support services defined in the SESP Part 2; and
  • had new and emerging support needs addressed.

If transitional employment is specified in the SESP for a consumer with chronic mental illness, the benchmark is 8 weeks (56 days) of employment, but not necessarily at the same job. Additionally, the SE provider is responsive to any support-need changes identified by the consumer and/or the employer.

 

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 4 (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves

  • the DARS1615, Supported Employment Support Summary report; and
  • an invoice. 

5.12.10 Benchmark 5: Job Stability

Service Definition

The SE provider monitors the supports set up during Benchmark 3 and Benchmark 4 as outlined in the SESP Part 2 to ensure that the consumer is able to maintain successful long-term employment. The employme[nt specialist and/or job skills trainer should have a minimum of two contacts per month with the consumer and/or the employer or person providing natural supports. The employment specialist and/or job skills trainer should not be providing any direct service to the consumer during the 60-day period between job stability and service closure. If at any time, the employment specialist or job skills trainer must provide direct services to the consumer, stability has not been achieved, and the 60-day period starts over.

Note: If the consumer changes jobs between Benchmarks 4 and 5, a minimum of 30 cumulative calendars days of employment in the new job is required before job stability can be established.

 

Required Documentation

The DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary is required. Details in the report should describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has a "clear picture" of the consumer's support needs, abilities, and challenges related to the placement.

To be considered complete, the DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Justification Summary must verify that

  • the consumer maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • meets at least one targeted job task listed in the SESP Part 1;
  • the consumer has worked a minimum of 8 weeks (56 days) cumulatively (Note: the consumer may need more than 8 weeks before he or she achieves Benchmark 5: Job Stability);
  • if the consumer has begun a new job during Benchmark 3 or 4, 30 days in the new job must be worked before the case is considered stable for the achievement of Benchmark 5;
  • the consumer is able to perform expected job duties;
  • the supervisor reports satisfaction with consumer's job performance;
  • the consumer and the consumer's representative, if any, are satisfied with the job and work environment;
  • necessary modifications and/or accommodations have been made at the worksite;
  • the consumer has reliable transportation to and from work, and a back-up transportation plan;
  • Extended Services and support needs are in place; and
  • other SESP-specified supports are present and functional.

The form must be signed by the consumer (or legally authorized representative) and the direct SE provider.

See Quality Criteria for Job Stability.

 

Outcome

Benchmark 5 is complete when

  • the consumer has worked a minimum of 8 weeks (56 days) cumulatively (Note: the consumer may need more than 8 weeks before he or she achieves Benchmark 5: Job Stability. If the consumer has begun a new job during Benchmark 3 or 4, 30 days in the new job must be worked before the case is considered stable for the achievement of Benchmark 5);
  • SE services have been provided;
  • the consumer has maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets at least one targeted job task established in the consumer's SESP Part 1,
    • is in an integrated work setting, and
    • is compensated at or above the minimum wage but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities;
  • the consumer has available the necessary supports defined in the SESP Part 2;
  • support needs have leveled off, and transition to Extended Services provided by and/or funded by sources other than DARS (for example, SE provider, family, MHMR, or other natural supports) is possible; and
  • the following people are satisfied:
    • the consumer,
    • the employer,
    • any representative,
    • the SE provider(s), and
    • the DARS counselor.

During the 60-day transition period between job stability and service closure, the DARS counselor may purchase only VR services that

  • are necessary to support the job placement and stability, and
  • the SE provider would not normally be expected to provide.

Examples of services that could be purchased include

  • replacement of prosthetic and orthotic devices,
  • maintenance of equipment, or
  • counseling and guidance to family members to support the consumer's job stability.

 

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 5 (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves the

  • DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary; and
  • an invoice. 

5.12.11 Benchmark 6: Service Closure

Service Description

The SE provider has successfully placed the consumer in a job consistent with jobs and employment conditions identified in the SESP Part 1, and the consumer has worked at least 90 days. Supports have been established as outlined in the SESP Part 2 to ensure successful placement, and monitoring of supports is the only service that the SE provider has performed for at least 60 days.

 

Required Documentation

The DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary is required. Details in the report should describe the consumer so that someone reading the report has a "clear picture" of the consumer's support needs, abilities, and challenges related to the placement.

The DARS1616 must verify that the

  • consumer maintained employment that
    • is in an integrated work setting,
    • is compensated at or above the minimum wage but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by people who do not have disabilities,
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • meets at least one targeted job task listed in the SESP Part 1;
  • consumer has maintained suitable SE for 60 days or longer after job stability was reached;
  • consumer has maintained the employment outcome for 90 days or longer;
  • consumer is able to perform the expected job duties;
  • supervisor reports satisfaction with the consumer's job performance;
  • consumer and the consumer's representative, if any, are satisfied with the job and work environment;
  • necessary modifications and/or accommodations have been made at the worksite;
  • consumer has reliable transportation to and from work, and a backup transportation plan;
  • Extended Services and supports are in place; and
  • other supports specified in the SESP Part 2 are present and functional.

The form must include signatures of the consumer (or legally authorized representative) and the direct SE services provider.

See Quality Criteria for Service Closure.

 

Outcome

Benchmark 6 is complete when

  • the consumer has achieved an employment outcome that is consistent with the consumer's
    • strengths,
    • resources,
    • priorities,
    • concerns,
    • abilities,
    • capabilities,
    • interests, and
    • informed choice;
  • the consumer has maintained employment that
    • meets all non-negotiable employment conditions,
    • meets 50 percent or more negotiable employment conditions, and
    • meets at least one targeted job task listed in the consumer's SESP Part 1;
  • the consumer has maintained suitable SE for 60 days or longer after job stability was reached;
  • the consumer has maintained the employment outcome for 90 days or longer;
  • the consumer is being compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary or usual wage paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by a person who does not have a disability;
  • there is evidence that the needed support systems including those in the SESP Part 2 are in place and working; and
  • the consumer, consumer's representative, if any, and the DARS counselor
    • consider the employment outcome satisfactory,
    • are satisfied with the supports, and
    • agree that the consumer is performing well on the job.

 

Payment

Payment for Benchmark 6 (see Chapter 3: Rates, 3.2 Service Rates) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves the DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary.

5.12.12 Employment Premium Services

Service Overview:

A DARS counselor may purchase an optional Employment Premium Service(s) for a consumer. The consumer must meet the requirements to be eligible for the Employment Premium Service, and the provider must receive a PO that authorizes the Employment Premium Service. An Employment Premium Service payment is paid only once, and it is paid when the consumer achieves the required criteria. For Bundled Services such as Job Placement and SE, all benchmarks must have been completed prior to payment of any invoice for an Employment Premium Service. The form(s) and invoice will be returned to the provider if incomplete. When returned, notification of issues related to the incomplete form(s) and/or invoice will be provided and the provider must resubmit for payment.

Service Descriptions/Scopes:

Criminal Background Premium- For a consumer’s case to be eligible for the Criminal Background Premium, DARS must have a Criminal Background Check (CBC) on file that indicates the consumer has

  • a felony criminal conviction, or
  • a guilty plea with deferred adjudication for a felony criminal offense, or
  • a no contest plea with deferred adjudication for a felony criminal offense.

The employment services provider is eligible for the Criminal Background Premium when the consumer gains employment that meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1, including the Criminal Background Premium. The Criminal Background Premium must also be authorized by a PO.

The premium payment is made only once at the conclusion of the achievement of the Wage Employment Service. See fees chart.

Outcomes Required for Payment:
DARS is authorized to pay the provider when an accurate and complete invoice and DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report is submitted confirming the consumer has otherwise achieved the requirements for Basic or Enhanced Job Placement Service Benchmark C or Benchmark 6 in SE services.

Deaf Services Premium- The employment services provider is eligible for the Deaf Services Premium when a consumer communicates using manual sign and the job placement specialist or SE specialist providing services to consumers is proficient with sign language skills. The job placement specialist or SE specialist must prove proficiency in sign language by evidence of either holding a Board of Interpreters for the Deaf (BEI) certification, a Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) certification, or a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) rating of intermediate plus. The employment services provider is eligible for the DEAF Service Premium when the consumer gains employment that meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Service Plan—Part 1 including the Deaf Services Premium. The Deaf Services Premium must also be authorized by a PO. The premium payment is made only once at the conclusion of the achievement of the Wage Employment Service. See fees chart.

Outcomes Required for Payment:
DARS is authorized to pay the provider when an accurate and complete invoice and DARS1833 or DARS1613 is submitted confirming the consumer

  • meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Service Plan—Part 1;
  • has otherwise achieved the requirements for Basic or Enhanced Job Placement Service Benchmark C or Benchmark 6 in SE services; and
  • proof of the job placement specialist or SE specialist maintains a Board of Interpreters for the Deaf (BEI) certification, or a Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) certification or a SLP rating of intermediate plus (copy of certification must be provided with invoice).

Livable Wage Premium- The employment services provider is eligible for the Livable Wage Premium when a consumer gains employment in a job that meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1 and the consumer earns a gross hourly wage of $16 per hour for more than 20 hours per week. The employment services provider is eligible for Livable Wage Premium when indicated on the DARS1833 or DARS 1613 and the Livable Wage Premium is authorized by a PO. Proof of the consumer’s earnings and average hours worked per week must be submitted such as an itemized pay stub with the invoice. The premium payment is made only once at the conclusion of the achievement of the employment service. 

Outcomes Required for Payment:
DARS is authorized to pay the provider when an accurate and complete invoice and DARS1833 or DARS1613 is submitted confirming the consumer

  • meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1;
  • has a job that earns $16 per hour for more than 20 hours per week with a copy of an itemized pay stub submitted for proof; and
  • has otherwise achieved the requirements for Basic or Enhanced Job Placement Service Benchmark C or SE Benchmark 6.

Professional Placement Premium- The employment services provider is eligible for the Professional Placement Premium when a consumer gains employment in a job that meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report and the position requires the completion of at least a bachelor's degree. This requirement must be stated in the employee's job description or job posting. The Professional Placement Premium must be indicated on the DARS1833 and the Professional Placement Premium must be authorized by a PO. The premium payment is made only once at the conclusion of the achievement of the Wage Employment Service. See fees chart.

Outcomes Required for Payment:
DARS is authorized to pay the provider when an accurate and complete invoice and DARS1833 is submitted confirming that the consumer

  • meets all the criteria outlined in the DARS1833, Bundled Job Placement Service Plan and Benchmark Status Report or DARS1613 Supported Employment Services Plan—Part 1;
  • has a job that requires at least a bachelor's degree (copy of the job description or job posting must be submitted as proof); and
  • has otherwise achieved the requirements for Basic or Enhanced Job Placement Service Benchmark C or SE Benchmark 6.