Employment Support Options

Workers with disabilities bring skills and talents to their jobs. Co-workers and supervisors naturally provide support. But sometimes you need more help to be successful. By using your self-directed supports (SDS) rate, you can purchase the additional support you need.

We’ll describe four ways to purchase support and things to consider with each one:

  • Partners with Business (PWB)
  • Co-Employment or Employer Agent
  • Vocational Agency Support
  • Supported Self-Employment

Partners with Business (PWB)

One option is to pay the employer to provide support when the support needed goes beyond what the employer would naturally do for any other employee. In addition, a vocational agency is paid a small amount to provide support to the employer as needed.

For example, Joe is hired at a small café as a “bus boy” during the busy breakfast and lunch periods. Joe has learned to clear tables, wipe down tables and empty bus bins into the dishwasher in the kitchen. But, Joe is not able to operate the dishwasher and needs reminders to carefully rinse the bus bins after each trip to the kitchen.


Pay Joe’s co-worker to help Joe out with these duties. If it takes 15 minutes each hour to help Joe out, the café’ owner can be paid for 15 minutes of the co-worker’s time.

This kind of support works well, especially in small businesses where job coaches would “stick out”. Employers like PWB because they don’t have to work through a job coach when issues arise. Workers like it because they are treated like any other employee.
Things to Consider
Not all employers want to take on job support responsibilities. And when co-workers turn over, new employees must be trained to provide the needed support.

Co-Employment and Employer Agent

Another option is to directly hire a job coach you choose. Co-Employment and Employer Agent are two ways to do this. In both options, the supported employee and his/her team choose the job coach and set wages and benefits. And as with Partners with Business, a vocational agency can be hired to provide back-up support and help with training.

Co-Employment through Goodwill Industries, Inc. offers help with some or all of the following: recruiting workers, background checks, benefits, payroll processing, and general human resources support. In addition, Goodwill serves as the employer of record, acting on behalf of the individual with a disability.

Employer Agent through Fiscal Assistance, Inc. is a second option. Individuals can directly hire a job coach and become the “employer of record”. Fiscal Assistance will provide help with background checks, payroll processing, and information on benefits such as worker’s compensation.

For example, Mary has found a job at a business near her home in Mazomanie. Mary only needs help at the beginning of her shift and at the end of her shift. Mary decides to hire one of her former teachers to provide her support.


This model puts you in control of who will support you at your job. And if you live outside Madison, you can hire local support workers who won’t have high mileage costs.

Things to Consider

You’ll need a back-up plan when your worker gets sick or goes on vacation. Identifying who will train new workers is also important.

Vocational Agency Support

Another option is to hire an agency to provide job coaching. The agency handles recruitment, training, and scheduling of workers. Agencies support lots of people, so they usually have plenty of job coaches should you need extra help.

For example: Mabel can easily become upset when her routine changes at work. Mabel uses an agency because the agency can provide well-trained job coaches who can be scheduled to provide lots of support over the course of each week.


Vocational agencies have a pool of well-trained workers who can share the responsibility of providing your job support.

Things to Consider

Agencies may have limited flexibility, e.g., generally, you do not have a choice of who will work with you at your job. Agency costs are generally higher than Partners with Business or Co-Employment/Employer Agent models of support.

Supported Self-Employment (SSE) Program

Dane County’s Supported Self-Employment (SSE) or Micro-Enterprise program is an alternative to traditional supported employment and sheltered work. The SSE program is uniquely suited to address the movement, communication, stamina, and behavioral barriers to employment often faced by individuals with significant disabilities. Dane County has seen that these micro-businesses can create employment opportunities for individuals in our service system who have had limited success in traditional employment.


The goal of the SSE program is to provide business planning services to people with developmental disabilities in an individualized way that will lead to the development of a gainful and sustainable micro-enterprise. The program incorporates person-centered planning and identifies barriers and assets to self-employment. Through an individualized approach, recommendations are made to overcome these barriers in order to establish or grow the consumer’s micro-enterprise. Whenever possible, DVR is asked to provide resources needed to enhance the consumer’s business while the county contributes long-term support dollars to fund on-going vocational services.

SSE Program Coordination

Shannel Trudeau-Yancey with Progressive Community Services, coordinates the Supported Self-Employment Program in Dane County and provides technical support to consumers (and teams) engaged in self-employment ventures. For more information, contact Shannel Trudeau-Yancey at (608) 848-9128 or .