ICI focuses on employment through a wide variety of initiatives, all with a singular focus: full inclusion of people with disabilities into the mainstream workforce.

ICI addresses employment through:

  • Directly assisting individuals with disabilities to succeed in jobs and careers.
  • Working with public systems and community agencies on systems and organizational change and implementation of best practices.
  • Working with state and federal agencies on development and implementation of public policies resulting in enhanced employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  
  • Researching and tracking state and national data trends in employment services and outcomes.
  • Conducting field research on innovative practices in employment.
  • Engaging in knowledge translation to support efforts to move research into practice.
  • Working with educators on enhancing transition services to prepare youth with disabilities to succeed in employment as adults.

ICI’s work on employment has a broad geographic reach, working within our home state of Massachusetts, as well as across the United States and internationally. ICI’s efforts include direct service with individuals with disabilities, staff training, technical assistance, and research. ICI also develops a wide array of tools, resources, and written products for a broad range of audiences, including practitioners, policymakers, and people with disabilities and their families.

Among ICI’s major initiatives on employment are:

ThinkWork. ThinkWork serves as the hub for an array of research, training, and technical assistance efforts focused on advancing employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Specific initiatives under ThinkWork include:

  • The State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) brings together state IDD agencies for sharing, educating, and providing guidance on practices and policies around employment. SELN is operated in conjunction with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services.
  • Access to Integrated Employment a research project that analyzes trends in day and employment services and outcomes for individuals with IDD and the factors that contribute to these outcomes at multiple levels: individual achievement, employment support practices, service provider engagement, and state policy reform.
  • StateData promotes Employment First and systems change efforts nationwide through compilation and analysis of data on employment trends from a wide variety of sources.
  • Real Work Stories shares the stories of individuals with IDD becoming successfully employed.
  • Employment First Massachusetts funded by the Massachusetts Department of Development Services (DDS) to provide training and technical assistance to increase integrated employment for individuals with IDD served by DDS.
  • Employment First Missouri funded by the Missouri Department of Mental Health to expand service provider capacity in Missouri in assisting individuals with IDD to become successfully employed.
  • Massachusetts Partnerships for Transition to Employment helps improve employment outcomes for individuals with IDD transitioning from school to adult life through enhanced partnerships and capacity among various entities.

ExploreVR serves as ICI’s hub for efforts focused on supporting public vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. ExploreVR offers VR agencies easy and convenient access to a range of VR research, related data, and tools for planning, evaluation, and decision-making.

Explore VR is engaged in multiple initiatives on work-based learning and progressive employment. Two examples of our work in this area:

  • Program on Innovative Rehabilitation Training on Employer Engagement (PIRTEE). PIRTEE helps improve the VR system’s capacity to engage employers by creating and delivering innovative training for the VR system, rehabilitation professionals and paraprofessionals, and faculty for use in academic rehabilitation counseling programs.
  • Innovative Training: Supporting Employment for People with Intellectual Disabilities. This initiative uses a variety of training modes and mechanisms to enhance knowledge and capacity of VR personnel to meet the employment needs of individuals with IDD.

ICI Employment Services assists individuals with disabilities in the greater Boston area in seeking, securing, and maintaining employment. Using a person-centered approach, ICI Employment Services provides support to job seekers throughout the discovery, career exploration, and job development processes to find meaningful jobs that match well with their vocational goals, skills, and interests.

The DirectCourse College of Employment Services (CES) offers online courses available on demand, built around a nationally recognized set of competencies from the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE). CES is part of the DirectCourse suite of training offerings produced by Elsevier. ICI offers a supplement to CES that qualifies learners for a certificate from the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE), a nationally recognized certification. ICI partners on this project with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration.

Related Projects: ExploreVR, ThinkWork, StateData, SELN