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Customized Employment


Policy Summary — Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Enhances the Discovery Process

1. Summary of the Policy

The Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services' (DARS) Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and Division of Blind Services (DBS) have implemented a detailed Discovery process, one of the key elements of Customized Employment (CE), as the center point of the agency's person-centered planning mechanism. By adding depth and direction to the basic concept of Discovery in its policy, the agencies incorporated a more thorough and person-centered planning process in the field. DRS and DBS contract with Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) for delivery of all Supported Employment services, including CE. The Discovery process provides CRP staff members a way to ask for comprehensive information, giving them an increased understanding of the individual to support them in competitive integrated employment.

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

This policy has made Discovery the standard planning mechanism for counselors and providers of supported employment and supported self-employment services in the DARS systems. (DBS does not provide separate supported self-employment services, but lists it in the supported employment service as a valid employment goal and outcome.) It has also added depth to the way Discovery and its supporting tools are used, clarifying the importance of the various questions and categories to the counselors in the field. This more detailed Discovery provides the breadth and depth necessary to assist the counselor in linking highly individualized information back to the career development process.

3. Where is the policy housed?

The policy is housed at the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS), the Texas state vocational rehabilitation agency and the Division of Blind Services ((DBS).

4. Whom does it impact?

The policy impacts customers of the DRS and DBS Vocational Rehabilitation Programs who are deemed eligible to receive supported employment and supported self-employment services.

5. What have been the costs?

The cost of the policy is essentially neutral (with the exception of the one-time cost of training staff on how to implement Discovery), as it refines a process (individual planning) that already existed. Payment rates have not altered with the change.

6. How sustainable is the funding?

The funding that supports the planning processes referenced in this brief is part of both agency's standard service delivery model, and thus highly sustainable.

7. How has the policy been implemented?

The policy began when a former DARS Assistant Commissioner was working as a consultant to build CE capacity in the state provider system. He realized that what most of the counselors lacked as they put together a profile was a nuanced sense of the value of each piece of information in facilitating a job seeker's plan. On the basis of that observation, he began to add significant depth and context to the existing profile documents used for the Discovery process used by DARS counselors and Supported Employment Providers.

To implement CE, DARS initially required 390 of the agency's counselors to complete CE certification courses from Essential Learning, an online training vendor. Further, 68 Supported Employment Providers vendors (CRPs) were required to receive training and certification through an online Supported Employment Specialist course conducted by the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment program. (UNTWISE) The DARS Director of CRP Employment Services is required to take a course designed for that position. CRP staff members need to receive 20 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their certification status. Ten of those hours must be taken from UNTWISE. As of May 2014, over 2,000 individuals hold one or more employment services credentials from UNTWISE. UNTWISE manages the maintenance of the credentials.

DRS purchases Supported Employment Services only when they are provided by staff members who have Supported Employment Specialist credentials and Job Skills Training credentials from UNTWISE.

DRS will purchase Supported Self-Employment Services only from CRPs that employ staff who have been certified as Certified Business Technical Assistance and Consultants (CBTAC) by The Center for Social Capital. DRS identifies these certified individuals as supported self-employment specialists (SSESs).

8. What were the challenges in implementing the policy?

The principal challenge for the system has been capacity building as a means of ensuring consistent quality. After refining the policy, which added significant detail and context to the Discovery process, the principal challenge for DARS was to build the capacity in community-based providers and counselors to ensure consistent and high-quality facilitation of the Discovery process.

9. What were the successes in implementing the policy?

The major success of the DARS implementation of its CE policy was the development of the CRP employment service providers and directors in partnership with UNTWISE.

One unanticipated positive consequence of the process has been an improved relationship with the business community. Better Discovery has led to counselors having a better understanding of the job seekers they serve, which in turn has led to better placements. The overall state DARS system had a greater demand for job seekers from businesses than they could accommodate with their job seeker customer roles in May 2013.

10. What are some recommendations for other systems?

Take a dual approach to developing quality in all service systems. Interviewees suggested that efforts designed to perfect policy will always be incomplete without corollary efforts intended to support on-the-ground staff and providers. Support and training provided for these staff will allow them to realize the potential of a well-designed policy. A system must have good policy, as well as high-quality implementation through its providers, counselors, and staff. One without the other simply will not create success.

7. Copy of Policy

Supported Employment Policy


Chapter 1: Foundations, Roles and Responsibilities

  • 1.1 Using this Policy

Chapter 9: Employment Services

  • 9.1.1 Navigating Employment Services Chapter
    • 9.1.2 Key Terms
  • 9.3 Employment Services
    • 9.3.1 Fees
    • 9.3.2 Maximum Billable Hours
  • 9.10 Supported Employment Services
    • 9.10.6 Assessment and Referral for Supported Employment
  • 9.14 Supported Self-Employment Services
    • 9.14.1 Supported Self-Employment (SSE) Overview
    • 9.14.2 Supported Self-Employment (SSE) General Definitions
    • 9.14.6 Benchmarks of the Supported Self-Employment Outcome System
      Benchmark 1A: Discovery, Career and Community Support Analysis (CCSA), and CCSA Review Meeting

(Note that Division for Blind Services (DBS) and DRS provider standards are the same for supported employment services. DBS staff training requirements differ from DRS requirements)


Chapter 30: Supported Employment Services

8. Supporting Documents


DRS forms CRP staff use in the Customized Employment /Discovery process.

  • DARS 1612 Career and Community Support Analysis
  • DARS 1613 Supported Employment Services Plan-Part 1
  • DARS 1614 Supported Employment Services Plan-Part 2
  • DARS 1615 Supported Employment Support Summary


DARS 1800 Supported Self-Employment Services Plan (SSESP)

DARS 1802 Planning Meeting Record



DRS Standards for Providers Manual

Chapter 8: Standards for Employment Services

9. Contact Information

Jim Hanophy, MS, CRC
Assistant Commissioner
Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Division for Rehabilitation Services