Background: The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of supported employment is an evidence-based practice for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. To be financially viable, IPS programs require funding from the state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) system. However, some observers have questioned the compatibility of IPS and the VR system.
Method: Using a randomized controlled trial comparing IPS to a well-established vocational program called the Diversified Placement Approach (DPA), we examined rates of VR sponsorship and successful VR closures. We also describe the establishment of an active collaboration between a psychiatric rehabilitation agency and the state VR system to facilitate rapid VR sponsorship for IPS clients.
Findings: Both IPS and DPA achieved a 44% rate of VR Status 26 closure when considering all clients entering the study. IPS and DPA averaged similar amount of time to achieve VR sponsorship. Time from vocational program entry to Status 26 was 51 days longer on average for IPS.
Conclusions: Even though several IPS principles seem to run counter to VR practices, such as zero exclusion and rapid job search, we found IPS closure rates comparable to those for DPA, a vocational model that screens for readiness, provides prevocational preparation, and extensively uses agency-run businesses.