Implementing evidence-based practices in supported employment for people with psychiatric disabilities.We are pleased to offer this special issue on Professional Practice of the Rehabilitation Counselor. Since its beginning in the early 1900's, the rehabilitation profession has evolved to meet the demands of serving an expanded population of persons who could benefit from rehabilitation services. Despite the diversity of the profession, the one constant across counselors, settings, and populations has been the focus on assisting individuals with disabilities to become employed. To this end, the development of best practices in service delivery has contributed to advancements in the field and ultimately increased employment outcomes and improved self-sufficiency for large numbers of people with disabilities.
More recent change is evident as excitement and momentum related to an Employment First public policy initiative occur at the state and federal levels (Parent, 2010). Employment First establishes the idea that integrated competitive employment is the first option for all individuals regardless of disability label or support needs (APSE, 2010). To date, more than 25 states have some type of Employment First activities including summits, conferences, publications, training and technical assistance, agency goals and mission statements, and policies and legislation (Kiernan, Hoff, Freeze, & Mank, 2011). The significance of a clear and consistent policy of Employment First is that it changes service delivery system practices and allocation of resources to support integrated competitive employment for all persons including those who previously may have not been considered.
As an Employment First agenda increases, agencies, providers, and organizations are struggling with how they can go about putting this principle into practice. Rehabilitation counselors, with their broad set of competencies and emphasis on employment, are in a unique position to facilitate these efforts. As additional individuals seek rehabilitation services to achieve employment, the need for information on effective strategies that enable employees to be successful in their chosen careers is of critical importance.
The purpose of this special issue is to present the reader with information about practices and tools for implementation that can be useful in assisting an ever expanding broad clientele of interested persons who want to work. The articles address a variety of topics, such as supported education, drug and alcohol screening, training and mentoring for employment consultants, secondary transition, and collaboration, with application to multiple audiences including veterans, persons with disabilities and substance use disorders, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, highschool youth with disabilities, and school and adult service agencies. We are hopeful this issue will be a valuable contribution to the repertoire of resources for use by rehabilitation professionals as they collectively strive to promote employment for people with disabilities currently and in the future.
APSE Statement on Employment First, October 11, 2010.
Kiernan, W.E., Hoff, D., Freeze, S., & Mank, D. M. (August, 2011). Employment First: A beginning not an end. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(4), 300-304.
Parent, W. (2010, March, 30). Employment First. Seeding Change: a blog of the NTAR Leadership Center, http://ntarseedingchange.blogspot.com/2010/03/ employment-first.html.
Wendy S; Parent Ph.D., CRC, Research Professor, Assistant Director, Lawrence Site, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, 1000 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1052 Lawrence, KS 66045-7534.