"Work is Everybody's Business"
Supported Employment (SE) Steering Committees ensure that the entire service delivery system is built to support a high fidelity service. Steering committees can help the system adopt a "culture of work", promote practices that support SE, and change policies that conflict with the evidence-based practice.
Successful Supported Employment implementation requires a service delivery system that operates on the belief that consumers have skills, talents, and interests that can lead to successful jobs and education. However, during early implementation, it is likely that some individuals will find it difficult to support consumers with goals that require a degree of risk. It is also possible that some consumers have lost hope in their ability to work. Therefore, steering committees often focus on changing the culture of the mental health and vocational rehabilitation systems. For example, the committees help some working consumers to share their stories. The committees may also choose to recognize employment specialists or others who have been particularly creative or persistent in helping consumers with their goals. A final example could be that committees may ask agency administrators to lead the way by demonstrating their belief that all consumers should have opportunities for satisfying, competitive work.
Many aspects of SE implementation require policy and practice changes that surround the SE program. For example, the steering committee may develop methods to simplify the referral process so that consumers have fast access to SE. The committee could also look at ways to work with the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) office so that consumers are not asked to complete lengthy prevocational activities. Steering committees think carefully about the changes that need to take place and commit their plans to paper (see #5 below).
Finally, the steering committee can keep a limelight on the project even after the program is well established. This method for focusing on evidence-based practices has been found to be essential in order to sustain high fidelity programs over time.
During implementation, the steering committee is responsible for the following activities:
- Learn about the EBP. Each member should understand the principles of Supported Employment.
- Examine the agency and system of care for policies or practices that conflict with SE fidelity.
- Build consensus for Supported Employment.
- Talk about the importance of employment
- Share stories from working consumers
- Share plans for SE implementation
- Set goals for employment
- Plan a kick-off for the program
- Make plans to educate all practitioners, administrators, consumers and family members about SE
- Review fidelity reports.
- Use fidelity reports to develop plans for improved fidelity (see attached examples).
- Monitor the effectiveness of the fidelity plan.
After the program achieves high fidelity, steering committees shift focus to the following:
- Monitor changes in fidelity.
- Increase fidelity to any items that have low scores.
- Focus on strategies to increase service capacity.
- Publicize the SE program in the community.
- Celebrate success and recognize those who have supported the service.
Each agency may develop a unique membership, however, the following stakeholders should be considered to be core members of the committee:
- SE supervisor
- MH agency clinical director
- MH agency CEO
- MH or ADAMHS board representative
- VR supervisor
- VR counselor/liaison
- Family members
Other members could include:
- Consumer operated services or drop-in centers
- NAMI representative
- Local GED program
- MH agency board of directors
- Local chamber of commerce and/or employers
- Representative from the justice system
- Colleges, universities, trade schools
During implementation, quarterly meetings will probably be required to ensure that change takes place. In order to sustain a high fidelity program, it may be possible to reduce the meeting schedule to twice each year. Many committees find it helpful to set the meeting schedule for a year in advance.