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Evidence-Based Supported Employment

What is Evidence-Based Supported Employment?

Supported Employment (SE) is a service that helps people find and maintain meaningful jobs in the community. The jobs are competitive (paying at least minimum wage) and are based on a person's preferences and abilities. Researchers have studied different types of programs that help people with mental illness find and keep employment. These studies compare supported employment to many other vocational approaches and they consistently find that evidence-based supported employment (sometimes referred to as Individual Placement and Supports (IPS) assists more people with getting and keeping their jobs than any other approach.

What are the Benefits of Working?

For most of us, work is part of our identity. When we feel good about having a job, we often see ourselves in a more positive way. Work provides structure and routines. Work contributes to one’s overall health. Job income gives us more choices about what to buy, where to live, and gives us a chance to build savings.

How does IPS Supported Employment work?

Any person who wants to work is eligible: No one is excluded who wants to participate.

Supported employment is integrated with treatment: Employment specialists coordinate employment plans with treatment teams: case managers, therapist, psychiatrist, the individual, and others. Everyone communicates with each other to provide integrated and helpful supports.

Competitive employment is the goal: The focus is community jobs anyone can apply for that pay at least minimum wage, including part-time and full-time jobs.

Job exploration starts soon after a person expresses interest in working: There are no requirements for completing extensive pre-employment assessment and training (e.g. job skills groups) or intermediate work experiences (like prevocational work units, job try outs, or agency-created jobs). Employment specialists spend most of their time in the community assisting a person with locating employment.

Follow-along supports are continuous: Individualized supports to maintain employment continue as long as a person wants the assistance.

Individual preferences are important: Choices and decisions about work and support are individualized based on the person's preferences, strengths, and experiences.

Supported employment includes benefits planning: Employment specialists help a person understand how benefits such as Social Security or Medicaid, are affected by working. Most people are able to work and continue to receive some benefits.

Where are evidence-based supported employment services available?

Evidence-Based Supported Employment is available through adult Community Rehabilitation and Treatment (CRT) programs at all Vermont community mental health centers. Services are typically offered in collaboration with VocRehab Vermont supports, but this is not required.

For a listing of Vermont’s 10 CRT programs, please visit the listing of the Designated Agencies in Vermont here.

Frequently asked questions

Are supported employment services available for part time work? Yes, part time work is supported. For some people, this may mean only a few hours of work each week.

Do employers hire people with mental health challenges?

Yes, supported employment programs can locate employers who are interested in hiring qualified people who match the job requirements.

Do employment services continue after an individual has found a suitable job?

Working is sometimes stressful. It is not uncommon for people to make several attempts before keeping a job. Supported employment services continue for as long as the person is working and finds the support helpful.

If a person has more difficulties with his/her illness at certain times, how are these fluctuations handled?

Employment specialists collaborate closely with the person seeking employment and the other members of the mental health treatment team. Employment specialists receive training and supervision regarding mental illness. Employment specialists also provide support and consultation to the person’s employer (with permission).

If a person is unable to work, even with the help of the supported employment program, will other services still be available?

Yes, a person is still eligible for other services even when he/she is not working or stops receiving supported employment services. Research does show that most individuals are able to work if provided the necessary supports and encouragement to succeed.

How can families or supporters help?

Providing support to your family member or friend's efforts in searching for and finding work can help. You can show your interest by learning about supported employment. The job search process is enhanced when you share the interests and talents of your family member or friend with the employment specialist and the treatment team. Using your network to provide job leads or business contacts is also very helpful.

For more information about Individual Placement and Support (IPS), please visit the IPS Center’s website:

For more information about IPS services in Vermont, please contact the Department of Mental Health at (802) 241-0090 or toll free (888) 212-4677.