Community Employment/SEFA

The Supported Employment Program of Watauga Opportunities is working to enable their trainees to become working citizens.Supported Employment

  • Paid Employment for People with Disabilities
  • Integration with Non-Disabled Workers
  • Job Screening, Training, and Follow-Along
  • No Charge to Employers

Supported Employment is a form of rehabilitation, utilizing the job coach model, where a person who may have barrier(s) to employment is trained on a job, one-on-one with an employment specialist. Guided by the principles of least restrictive environment and optimal integration, the employee's abilities are carefully matched to the job requirement.

How It Works

The employment specialist/job coach learns the job, then trains the person in the individual job skills and behavioral expectations at the job site, guaranteeing that production and company standards are met until the new employee can meet them on his/her own. As performance improves, the coach fades from the job site leaving supervision to company personnel. Long-term follow-along staff provides regular contact with the employee both on the job and in the community to assure long-term job retention. The employment specialist is always available for retraining, problem resolution, and to act as liaison between employer and employee.

The Supported Employment Program of Watauga Opportunities is working to enable their Participants to become working citizens.

When adults with developmental disabilities become employed, even part-time, their government benefits are reduced for every dollar they earn. Tax receivers become taxpayers.

The program is available to employers at no cost. The employee is paid by the company just like anyone else on the payroll.

Employer Benefits

  • Training and support services free of charge
  • Motivated and dependable labor force
  • Reduced turnover and low absenteeism
  • Good community relations
  • Helps provide reasonable accommodations
  • Work Opportunities Tax Credit

Individual Benefits

  • Higher self-esteem and positive self image
  • Independence in life
  • Higher wages
  • Contributing and active member of community
  • Becoming a taxpayer vs. a tax receiver

Supported Employment Stages

Intensive Training

During the intensive training stage of supported employment, the employment specialist is on the work site daily with the employee. The employment specialist assures production and quality standards are met, while the employee is in the intensive training stage, by learning and performing the job himself/herself and gradually transferring these skills to the employee. The employment specialist collects data to make sure the employee is doing his/her job correctly. The procedures and policies of the company are discussed and taught to the employee during this time. As needed, the employment specialist will educate the supervisor and co-workers in any area of special needs the employee might have.

In an attempt to gain the highest level of normalization possible, our employment service is not equipped to provide substitute employees when a supported employment employee is absent, however, during the intensive training stage, the employment specialist will guarantee job completion as needed.,

During preparation for job placement, we instill the importance of punctuality and have an attendance rate well above the norm.

During the intensive training stage, the employment specialist discusses the employee's progress, development, assistance, and other job-related issues with the supervisor. If there are any concerns or questions, supervisors are encouraged to bring them to the employment specialist's attention to help us ensure long-term job retention and quality employees.


During the fading stage of supported employment, the employment specialist continues to accompany the employee to the work site, but the time is gradually diminished. As job skills are satisfactorily acquired, the employment specialist begins spending less time with the employee until he/she is completely independent of the employment specialist at the work site and supervision is completely passed to the work site supervisor.

If, during the fading stage, problems arise, production decreases, or quality becomes less than desired, work site supervisors are instructed to contact the employment specialist immediately. We have found that contacting the employment specialist at the first sign of deterioration of skills will provide the most benefit to the employer and employee.

Follow-Along Stage

During the follow-along stage, the employee and the employer receive long-term job maintenance and support as needed. The follow-along stage provides regular check-ups on the employee, evaluations to ensure the employer's satisfaction, a person available for retraining, teaching new skills, or any other concerns that directly or indirectly relate to the job.


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