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Supported Employment

The Developmental Disabilities Supports Division (DDSD) has adopted a definition of Supported Employment that aligns with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid final rule.


Employment First

The Developmental Disabilities Supports Division adopted the DDSD Policy EFAI in November of 2016. The purpose of the policy was to establish procedures for supporting working age adults to have access to valued employment opportunities are the preferred service in New Mexico. Access to competitive integrated employment will enable the person to engage in community life, control personal resources and receive services in the community. Team members shall give preference to community and natural supports to assist individuals to attain their employment goals and desired outcomes.

Informed Choice

Individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities should have the opportunity to decide if they are interested in employment based on an informed choice.  The Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver has provided language in the standards since 2007.  The language from the DD Waiver Standards implemented in March 2018 is outlined here.

The DDSD adopted an Employment First Policy in 2016 to establish procedures for supporting working age adults to have access to valued employment opportunities as the preferred service in New Mexico. Access to competitive integrated employment enables the person to engage in community life, control personal resources, increase self-sufficiency, and receive services in the community. When engaging in person-centered planning, Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) members must first look to community and natural supports to assist people to attain their employment goals and Desired Outcomes. As such, supported employment activities are a planning priority for all working age adults. Employment should be the first consideration. If someone does not choose employment, the decision should be based on informed choice.

Making an informed choice about employment is an individualized process. People who are supported by this waiver all have unique histories and backgrounds, which means that some people may have limited experiences and will require more information to make a decision about employment, while others may have a rich and varied employment history and can make an informed choice based on that history. The IDT must work together to determine and provide opportunities for activities that support making an informed choice about employment and clearly document the person’s decision-making process in the ISP.

  1. Assessment: The first step in making an informed choice about employment starts with the assessment process. The Person-Centered Assessment (PCA) and minimum requirements are referenced in 11.4 Person Centered Assessments (PCA) and Career Development Plans below.
  2. Experience: If a person has no volunteer or employment history, then the person and guardian should consider trying new discovery experiences in the community to determine interests, abilities, skills, and needs. It is the responsibility of the provider to offer these experiences. These new experiences must be clearly documented in the ISP Work, Education and/or Volunteer History section, as well as any reason(s) not to pursue new experiences.
  3. Opportunity for Trial Work or Volunteering: The guardian and team must also offer/provide the person with access to job exploration activities including volunteer work and/or trial work opportunities, if the person and guardian are interested. Employment Provider Agencies can assist in accessing these opportunities. These opportunities must be documented by the CM in the ISP in the Work, Education and/or Volunteer History section.
  4. Once the first three steps have been fulfilled, then the individual, in conjunction with a legal guardian, if appropriate, can determine whether employment shall be pursued.
  5. If employment is the preferred option, then the IDT shall have a discussion of potential impact on the person’s benefits and services. This process may require accessing community resources to determine the potential impact. Employment Provider Agencies can assist in providing this information, and the details of the discussion must be documented by the CM in the Work, Education and/or Volunteer History section of the ISP as described in Chapter 6.6.3.4 Documenting Employment First in the ISP.
  6. If a person is retired, then this information must be clearly documented in the ISP. The reasons for the choice to retire, the activities that were explored to make this decision and other pertinent information should be included in the ISP as described in Chapter 6.6.3.4 Documenting Employment First in the ISP.

Discovery and Customized Employment are best practice methodologies for matching individuals with severe disabilities to an employment opportunity. These tools can be particularly helpful when working with individuals who have limited life experiences and/or communication challenges.

Additionally, DDSD offers a Work Experience Grant Program that will fund Trial Work Opportunities. This grant will cover wages, worker’s compensation, and taxes for individuals to experience working in the community.


Current Policies, Procedures and Director’s Releases

Please see the following policies related to employment first and access to employment.

Jackson Remedial Plan Related to Supported Employment

Please see the following release regarding Jackson remedial plan related to supported employment.

Person-Centered Assessment

Please see the following release regarding Person-Centered Assessments and guidance.


Definitions

Please see the Community Inclusion Definitions document for a list of common terms and their meanings.


Learn More

Training and Technical Assistance

DDSD Community Inclusion Coordinators at the DDSD Regional Offices are available to assist with developing new ideas and break down barriers for individuals with developmental disabilities to engage with communities. They are available to provide consultation on an array of topic areas related to community life engagement.

Funding for Work Experiences

The DDSD Work Experience Grant Program that will fund one of three design models for this program. They are: 1) Trial Work Opportunity, 2) Community-Based Situational Assessment, and Microenterprise start-up. The Work Experience Grant program can be accessed to cover funding for wages and workers’ compensation insurance for individuals in the Trial Work Opportunity and the Community-Based Situational Assessment models. The Microenterprise model is designed to cover business start-up costs that cannot be obtained through other means.

Transitioning Youth

The Transition to Employment Grant is designed to provide opportunities for employment to individuals who might not otherwise have access to employment supports. The program is intended to give individuals who are preparing to exit/graduate from high school or have recently exited or graduated from high school the opportunity to receive supports for community employment as adults. Individuals who are between the ages of 17 and 25 are eligible for this program. The individual must be on the DDSD central registry. Please visit the Intake and Eligibility section of our website to learn more about the central registry. Individuals who are already receiving services through the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver or the Mi Via Waiver are not eligible for this program. Please see the Transition to Employment Program Application to get started.

Waiver Services

Developmental Disabilities Waiver

The Developmental Disabilities Waiver program provides an array of residential, in home, community, employment, therapeutic and family support services for children and adults. DD Waiver services are intended to add to, not replace, other supports a person has like medical services through New Mexico’s Medicaid State Plan, natural supports and other community services. You can also learn more about customized Community Supports and Employment through the DD Waiver program.

Mi Via Self-Directed Waiver

Mi Via, which means “my path,” “my way” or “my road,” is designed for participants who have disabilities to manage their own services and supports. The Mi Via Self-Directed Waiver is about choosing to self-direct home and community-based services, supports and goods within an approved plan and budget. With the assistance of a Consultant, participants develop their own Service and Support Plan (SSP) to meet their functional, medical, and social needs. Participants decide what services they need and how to spend their Mi Via budget.