The growth in the employment rate for people with ID/DD who receive Home and Community-Based Services is due to several factors. Each designated and specialized service agency had individualized employment rate targets within the larger context of striving for a 45% statewide employment rate. This individualized approach provided tangible and feasible benchmarks while recognizing that each organization has unique circumstances associated with increasing the number of people employed. DAIL's Supported Employment Specialists provided technical assistance via regular meetings with each agency to review progress and offer help. DAIL's ability to access Vermont Department of Labor's (VTDOL) database allowed DAIL to identify every employed person served by the providers. In some cases, the utilization of the VTDOL data base actually increased the employment rate as it picked up workers beyond what providers' data system had available for employment rates. In addition, four transition age youth educational options; SUCCEED, College Steps, Think College Vermont, and Project SEARCH, had a significant influence on the growth in employment with each achieving a high employment rate for their students upon graduation. Participating colleges in the post-secondary education programs include Castleton University, Northern Vermont University - Johnson and Lyndon Campuses, Southern Vermont College and University of Vermont (UVM). Vermont Project SEARCH has expanded to three Vermont licensed programs (Burlington, Rutland, Springfield). This growth has tremendously broadened the menu of employment supports for transition aged youth with developmental disabilities.
The number of individuals receiving supported employment and employed during FY 21 was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lower count is due to fewer individuals retaining employment due to business closures, job offers being declined due to health risks concerns, elimination of employment services due to staff shortages, individual's declining job devlopment services to minimize being in public, and families and guardians being opposed to a return to work even when vaccinated.