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Customized Employment


Policy Summary — Customized Employment Entrepreneurship in Alaska's Vocational Rehabilitation Policy

1. Summary of the policy

After the successes experienced by Alaska's Customized Employment and StartUp USA Grants, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) instituted an ongoing policy to pay for "Discovery" as part of the overall customized employment (CE) process. DVR already had a very progressive and effective policy on self-employment which aligned itself with utilizing discovery so a "customized self-employment" process resulted. In addition, DVR services were written so they could include job-development and placement services that include a customized type approach. The result is DVR can pay for discovery services related to all aspects of CE and for the development and implementation self-employment (entrepreneurship) type businesses which includes assistance in writing a business plan. The Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) payment rate for these services ranges from $70-90 dollars per hour. Additionally, Alaska has access to a unique funding stream, the Mental Health Trust Authority, that was formed as a result of a settlement from a lawsuit which now funds a variety of projects and services that assist beneficiaries of the trust. The trust lands are sold or leased and profits have been used primarily for capacity building in the system.

2. What is the function of the policy that promotes the principles of Customized Employment?

The Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) pays for all relevant CE and supported entrepreneurship services, and makes these services available to any and all of their customers

a. Where is the policy housed?

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

b. Who does it impact?

All customers of and vendors to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

c. What have been the costs?

DVR pays between 70 and 90 dollars per hour for CE and Supported Entrepreneurship services, as part of their standard service delivery funds. Other funding from the State Mental Health Trust Authority and partners such as the Governor's Council on Disabilities and the University of Alaska Center for Human Development have supported capacity building and training throughout the state to assist in ensuring that these services are available broadly and at a high level of quality.

d. How sustainable is the funding?


3. How has the policy been implemented?

With support from the state's CE and Startup USA grants, Alaska has had many years to work through the complexities of instituting these policies, and understanding what is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of CE and Self Employment in the state.

Considerable time and resources have been committed to training and capacity building. Capacity building has occurred through partnerships with Employment for All and the Technical Assistance Centers of the CE and StartUp USA grants.

a. What were the challenges in implementing the policy?

Some counselors and providers have stated that the amount of time and money required to invest in CE does not justify the outcomes, which some believe have not been as good as other less time intensive strategies. DVR, and other partner agencies in Alaska who are now beginning to implement CE strategies are hoping the recent advancement of CE training will lead to the identification and adoption of formal standards in place for the performance of CE to answer these objections. The two other major challenges associated with implementing this policy include the development and implementation of high quality CE training that has reasonable prices and is available across the state via distance education. Lastly, the on-going turn-over of providers who can deliver CE services continues to be a challenge. It's critical that other major agency partners such as those responsible for DD and Mental Health services build CE services into their menu of available pre-vocational services so many more Alaskan's can benefit from them.

b. What were the successes in implementing the policy?

The preparation time and support provided to the state through the Customized Employment and StartUp USA grants have been essential to the success for this venture. These grants allowed the state the time and resources they required to test and prove the efficacy of these practices, and begin the process of introducing them to counselors and providers statewide.

6. What are some recommendations for other systems?

Invest the time to document outcomes to justify the adoption of these policies and practices. Though time consuming, it is an important part of ensuring the long term sustainability of these policies and practices. Also, see "challenges with implementing policy" section above for additional recommendations.

7. Copy of Policy


CS 10.0, Individualized Plan for Employment (See Section 3.1, Assessment-Discovery, page 5)(Also handout.)

CS 11.0 describes policy related to VR services including Discovery (See Section 3.1 Assessments, page 13 and Section 3.16 Job Search Assistance, page 30).


Attach. 4.8(b)(4) Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services

"Describe the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities in order to provide the following services to individuals with the most significant disabilities:"

  • supported employment services; and
  • extended services"

"DVR has an on-going commitment to quality supported employment services as evidenced by the recent formation of a high level committee including the DVR Chief of Rehabilitation Services and the Executive Director of the Governor's Council on Disabilities to evaluate the current level of supported employment services available. DVR has sustained the principles of the system change customized employment grant that focused on wrap-around services for the most severely disabled."

8. Supporting Documents



9. Contact information

Richard Sanders
Alaska Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education and is the Program Coordinator for the Alaska Works Initiative and the STARTUp Alaska Self Employment Grant.
Phone:(907) 269-5703
Fax: (907) 269-8995