A publication of the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities @ RI College

Conversion: From Workshop to Integrated Employment

Sherlock Center Lighthouse Logo
In This Issue

The Transition to Integrated Employment 
Brief is published in part with funding from 

Resources & Tools
Agency Conversion to Integrated Services Worksheet
RI ORS Supported Employment Fee for Service
Forms and documents that support service implementation and process
National resources supporting systems transformation and quality practices
Transition to Integrated Employment
Resources supporting the transition from center-based to community-based services
Training  Resources

Graphic of Rhode Island College and Sherlock Center logos

April Series

Public Forum: The State of Employment for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A National Perspective on Trends and Systems Change

Thursday, April 3
6:30 - 9:00 PM

Workshop: Make it WORK: Encouraging, Supporting, and Managing Integrated Employment Services

Friday, April 4
 8:45 AM - 4:00 PM 

Upcoming Series:


June 19th Public Forum: 

Introduction to the Discovery Process and Customized Community Employment


June 20th Workshop: 

Implementing the Discovery Process and Customized Community Employment



October 24th Workshop: 

Transition to a Self-Determined Life

March 2014  |  Volume 1, Issue 1
In February, Rhode Island College and the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities hosted the first of a series of public forums and workshops to promote a comprehensive approach to transition and integrated employment. Conversion: From Workshop to Integrated Employment, a day 
Picture of Conversion Workshop presentation by Margaret Van Gelder -long workshop held at RI College, was well attended by providers, advocates, and family members. Workshop presenters, recognizing that conversion from center-based services is multifaceted, shared a variety of programmatic, staffing, and fiscal strategies that support a strong emphasis on employment. This Brief highlights those strategies, as well as related resources for ongoing learning. 

Blue Print for Success: Employing Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities


In 2013 the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Disability Services developed a five-year plan to transition employment  Employment First embraces the benefits of integrated employment experienced by individual with ID/DD, the community, and business. services from center-based to community-based.  The Massachusetts' process engaged stakeholders, took a critical look at system strengths, capacity gaps, and state policies, and identified resources to implement services to increase community integrated employment. "Blue Print for Success: Employing Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in Massachusetts" provides a state-wide guide to:


  • Raising expectations for community integrated employment,
  • Increasing provider and staff capacity,
  • Engaging stakeholders, and
  • Technical assistance for providers and state agencies in the development of new business models and to deliver quality services.

    Margaret Van Gelder, Statewide Director of Employment and Family Supports at the Central Office of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, indicated in her presentation that the "process of systems evolution is not easy, but it is well worth it."  Over the next five years, Massachusetts will continue to evolve state policies, refine funding resources, increase consumer and provider capacity, and engage the business community to grow employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.


    Adapted from:

    A Blue Print to Employment First, The Massachusetts Experience,  presented by Margaret Van Gelder, Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services

    Agency Transformation: Strategies for Transitioning to Integrated Employment

    Individuals have unique support needs to help them successfully explore careers, as well as find and keep jobs.  Organizations must consider how to change their business models toward a flexible array of services that will support these diverse needs and interests.  The following strategies and tips support conversion success: 

    • Leadership: With leaders providing an unwavering commitment to evolving services, create a culture that expects community integrated employment for all individuals.
    • Engage Stakeholders: Involve stakeholders, especially individuals, families, boards, staff and community in the change process. Provide sufficient information, training, and support to stakeholders.  Engage stakeholders in developing solutions.
    • Strategic Planning: Change does not happen without intentional planning. Critically analyze resources, get stakeholder feedback, and develop a plan  that is clear and
      shared with all.  Obtain technical assistance to gain additional perspectives and for support as you implement the plan. A recommended resource is the APSE Supported Employment Quality Indicators
    • Quality Outcomes and Benchmarks: Identify, communicate, and monitor quality outcomes and benchmarks.  Make sure outcomes are measurable and focus on continuous improvement.  Report results regularly and make it a practice to celebrate progress. 
    • Organizational Infrastructure: Quality services are reflected in daily procedures, staffing models, and competency.  Recommended resources include the APSE Supported Employment Competencies and ICI Service Delivery Sample Process.
      • Staff Roles: Revise job descriptions to support flexible staffing patterns and the skills to work off-site. Determine if you will used a generalist or specialist approach.
      • Staff Competency: Revise training for new hires to reflect priorities of community inclusion and employment.  Managers and direct line staff have unique training needs. Require employment specialist/job coaching training for staff.  Reinforce implementation of career exploration, job development, and job coaching skills with proactive supervision and quality control practices.
      • Braided and Blending of Funding: Develop diversified funding options based on available resources such as, DDD, Vocational Rehabilitation, SSA Ticket To Work, and fee for service.
      • Foster Multiple Pathways to Employment: Establish person-centered planning practices that support individualized ISP goal development, career exploration, and skill development.  Base job development and coaching strategies on individual strengths and support needs.  Use generic resources along with creative strategies and supports (accommodations, natural supports, creative funding, etc.).  
    • Reward and Recognize Success: Reinforce effective strategies, creativity, successful employment outcomes and other achievements. Nothing promotes change like celebrating success!
    Graphic with images of people with disabilities working.

    Individuals and Families
    Rick Hawes, Berkshire Arc
    • Involve individuals, families, & residential providers in decision making from the onset
    • Legitimize and work through concerns
    • Educate and inform individuals and families of benefits of supported employment
    Staff Skills- Values Most Important!
    Lara Enein-Donovan, ICI
    • Belief in integrated employment for all
    • Typical workplace settings and integrated jobs in general workforce as standard
    • Social inclusion as key indicator of success
    • Employment search guided by person-centered planning
    • Empowerment of individual
    • Staff not "in charge" or "caretaker"
    • Staff role: facilitation of natural & community support
    Agency Lessons Learned
    Sharon Smith, Work Inc.
    • Change is hard
    • If you ask a question, be willing to listen to the answer
    • Create a culture that values change
    • People will adapt with support and training
    • Unify framework to operationalize your mission
    • Set Benchmarks and share progress - seeing is believing
    • Reward service excellence

    Employment Toolbox
    David Hoff, ICI

    "There are lots of tools in the employment toolbox. It's important to figure out the best set of tools that will meet the job-seeker's needs."  The chart below provides a range of strategies to consider depending on the intensity of the intervention needed and the availability of time and resources.

    Graphic of employment strategies and techniques
    Adapted from the following presentatons:
    Conversion to Community Integrated Employment Services,  Rick Hawes, Berkshire Arc
    Effective Pathways to Employment, David Hoff, Institute for Community Inclusion
    Planning Your Staffing Needs,  Lara Enein-Donovan, Institute for Community Inclusion
    Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities | (401) 456-8072 (Voice) | TTY Relay at 711 or 800-745-5555
    Rhode Island College
    600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue
    Providence, RI 02908

    Text | Optional Link

    Copyright © 20XX. All Rights Reserved.