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IPS and CE Frequently Asked Questions

May 12, 2021

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What is IPS?

IPS is an evidence-based supported employment model for people with serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia spectrum disorder, bipolar, depression). IPS supported employment helps people living with behavioral health conditions work at regular jobs of their choosing. Mainstream education and technical training are included as ways to advance career paths.

What is customized employment?

Customized employment is a flexible process that involves negotiating an individualized relationship between a job seeker and an employer in ways that meet the needs of both. It is based on an individualized determination and discovery of the strengths, requirements, and interests of a person with multiple challenges, as well as on an individualized match between these factors and the identified needs.

How is IPS funded?

Most states use braided funding from two or three sources to fund IPS. These sources may include state vocational rehabilitation funds, Medicaid, or state set-aside funds. Supports through American Job Centers also are available to job seekers with mental health conditions.

How is CE funded?

Customized employment and Discovery, which is the first step in the CE process, are most often funded through vocational rehabilitation funds and/or a variety of services under Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waivers. Service definitions and rates vary by state. Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) and Customized Employment are authorized under Title IV of WIOA, which applies to Vocational Rehabilitation. Successful CIE outcomes for people with disabilities are enhanced by effective VR engagement with a wide range of businesses and workforce development partners. WIOA promotes the use of CE, especially for individuals with the most significant disabilities. In addition, sometimes the state has special initiatives or settlement agreements that can fund CE for eligible individuals.

Can IPS be used with individuals with other types of disabilities or do people need to have a mental health condition?

Many IPS programs are beginning to serve a diverse population of individuals including those with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, transition-aged youth, young adults, and Social Security and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients.

Who benefits most from CE?

Customized employment provides an avenue to employment for job seekers who find that traditional job search methods do not meet their needs. CE is a universal strategy that benefits many people, including people with disabilities and others with multiple challenges to employment – including those with and without disabilities. It also benefits employers by specifically targeting and filling unmet needs in their businesses.

What types of job supports do employment specialists provide within IPS?

Job supports vary based upon each worker’s preferences and needs. Generally, employment specialists are encouraged to provide intensive supports, including in-person contact on a weekly basis for at least the first month of employment. Examples of supports are wake-up phone calls, meetings with employers to obtain extra feedback, help learning how to take a bus to work, family meetings to talk about the job, meetings with the worker to discuss how the job is going, on-the-job coaching to learn new duties, etc. Over time, most clients want and require fewer supports and eventually transition off the IPS caseload. On average, clients remain in the IPS program for about a year.

Visit the IPS Employment Center’s Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about how IPS can support your workforce disability and inclusion needs. Learn more about how to promote CE as a universal design approach within the workforce development system to enable youth and adults with disabilities to secure and maintain employment.

Sources: The IPS Employment Center and the Essential Elements of Customized Employment.