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BLOG ON SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Martha Johanson presented a workshop for PRAGNYA on

October 27, 2022 on the services provided by the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). The California

Department of Rehabilitation works in partnership with consumers and other stakeholders to provide

services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living and equality for individuals with

disabilities. DOR works with Californians with disabilities to help them get a job, live independently and

have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

The Department of Rehabilitation serves individuals with disabilities, including those who receive

services from Regional Centers or Independent Living Centers, or are blind/visually impaired or

deaf/hard of hearing. It also provides services for students (ages 16-21) with an IEP, 504 plan or who

have a disability. The DOR connects job seekers with disabilities with hiring employers, as well as job

training tools, college textbooks, assistive technology, transportation and disability and benefits

counseling to support individuals in using their SSI/SSDI benefits to return to work.

Martha noted that less than 20% of the 5.4 million people in California with developmental disabilities

are represented in the workplace, so there is still much work to do in the area of supporting them to

gain and maintain employment. Some of the barriers include: low societal expectations of individuals

with I/DD which foster job discrimination; lack of other services such as transportation and

accommodations; few transition to adulthood programs available; lack of work experience prior leaving

school; and difficulty navigating the system after exiting the school system.

For individuals with developmental disabilities, work gives them a sense of purpose and self-worth, as

well as more independence and control over their own lives. Employment also helps improve individual

and family finances, leading to self-sufficiency, and gives a feeling of accomplishment, making the

person feel productive and valued, and helps them to develop new skills and transfer learned skills.

Martha went on to describe the different types of services provided by the DOR:

 Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR): Vocational counseling and services to individuals with

disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment, and to live independently,

including:

o Assessment – medical and vocational

o Counseling and referral

o Training, tutoring, books and other materials

o Transportation

o Job development and placement

o Job coaching

• Student Services (PE): For students with disabilities, the DOR must arrange for or provide five

student services: job exploration counseling; counseling related to post-secondary

opportunities; workplace readiness training; self-advocacy training; and work-based learning

experiences. To qualify for this program, an individual must be a student, have an IEP or 504

plan, have a disability and be between the ages of 16 and 21. These services can be obtained by

contacting your local high school’s TPP (Transition Partnership Program) or your local District

DOR Office.


• Work Incentive Planner (WIP): This program provides intensive one-to-one services to help

neurodiverse individuals find out how employment will affect their Social Security benefits if

they return to work. The role of the Work Incentive Planner is to:

o Assist consumers in understanding the impact of employment on cash and health benefits.

o Develop accurate and personalized Benefits Analyses and Work Incentive Plans.

o Explain and outline viable options

o Provide recommendations on appropriate work incentives

o Assist with wage reporting and benefits management

 Supported Employment Program (SEP): Supported Employment Services are ongoing support

services and other appropriate services needed to support and maintain an individual with the

most significant disabilities in integrated employment. Most Supported Employment consumers

are persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are concurrently eligible for

Regional Center Services. Supported Employment services support individuals with significant

disabilities to achieve a variety of careers and become integrated members of the community;

lead meaningful lives through social and economic equality; overcome barriers and have access

to equal job opportunities, and have the potential to earn competitive wages.

In order to make these opportunities available, the Department of Rehabilitation works very

closely with the Regional Centers and over 120 supported employment service providers. These

service providers Identify vocational strengths and job support needs, meet with area business

personnel to create a paid work opportunity, provide any necessary on-the-job support (e.g.,

training, work hours, job coach) and monitor job performance to ensure the worker is meeting

employer standards.

Martha concluded her presentation by discussing the role of the family/support team and that their

involvement is critical. The DOR requires participation by the individual and encourages parent

participation to develop plans for successful employment. Everyone on the team should know the plan

and work with the individual to be successful at work, since it does indeed take a team of parents, the

individual, employment developers, and the DOR counselor to achieve the goal of getting more

individuals with ID/DD into the workplace. To help prepare their children for employment, parents can:

o Work with him/her on appropriate behavior for work environment

o Encourage him/her to take on responsibilities (like house chores)

o Keep in touch with DOR counselor/employment developers & be open to feedback

o Develop a parent support group

o Learn about success stories from other families.

For questions and information, contact your local District DOR Office:

DOR San Jose District:

Offices: San Jose downtown, San Jose North, Salinas, Capitola and Gilroy

Phone: 408-277-1355


DOR San Francisco District:

Offices: Novato, San Bruno, San Mateo and San Francisco

Phone: 415.802.2330 (Voice)

DOR Greater East Bay District:

Offices: Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Fairfield, Fremont, Oakland, and Richmond

Phone: 925.602.3953 (Voice)

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