My service options: Supported employment explained

Supported employment (SE) helps members with an intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD), mental health disorder, or substance use disorder find and keep a job that makes sense for them.

Whether starting a business or working for someone else, Vaya members may qualify to get help from an SE agency. SE strives to help members eventually work on their own with less frequent staff support.

I have a disability. Can I get a job?

Your care manager can help you figure out if getting a job is right for you! However, for the most part, supported employment is for any member with an I/DD, mental health disorder, or substance use disorder who wants to work.

The NC Innovations Waiver allows individuals with an I/DD to receive supports and services in their own community, including supported employment. For members who are not on the Innovations Waiver, SE is also available through Medicaid (b)(3) services. Whether you want more independence or extra spending money, getting a job can be a great next step in your journey.

In fact, many of our Vaya members run their own small businesses, or microenterprises. These include things like handmade pottery and cards, custom jewelry, photography, and lawn care services. View our Vaya Health Microenterprise Directory for a complete list of member businesses.

What is supported employment like?

There are lots of job options out there. Our members can talk with their care managers or call our Behavioral Health Crisis Line (1-800-849-6127) about getting connected with a program that offers job placement.

How does it work?

Step 1: Ask your care manager if supported employment could work for you.

Step 2: Your care manager will help you link up with the right program in your area to get started. If you are on the NC Innovations Waiver, they will help you include supportive employment in your Person-centered plan.

Step 3: The SE agency you’re paired with will help you find out what you would like to do. Then they’ll help you create a resume, search for jobs, and fill out applications. They can also help you practice your interview skills.

Step 4: Once you get a job, you’ll get help with the paperwork and developing job skills. In some cases, the SE agency may provide on-site support at work if you’re experiencing behavioral health challenges.

Why should I use supported employment services?

It can be hard to get a job on your own if you have an I/DD, mental health disorder, or substance use disorder. Supported employment makes it a lot easier — they’ll help push you in the right direction so you stay on track.

Getting a job can help you grow!

Having a job can make you feel more connected with yourself and others. You will:

  • Find out what you do and don’t like to do
  • Discover your hidden talent
  • Get to know your community better
  • Meet new people and make friends along the way
  • Gain independence and confidence
  • Make your own choices
  • Realize your life goals

Everyone wants to get better. If you’re feeling “stuck,” getting a job might be what you need — and supported employment can help. Michelle Cates, Vaya Olmstead care manager, explained:

“Members need the support and staff to keep going and keep the momentum. They also need an outlet for their creativity — to feel like they are valued. Being employed gives them a purpose, a voice, and a place where they are giving back and being received by their community.”

Learn more about supported employment options

  • Speak with your care manager
  • Call our Behavioral Health Crisis Line (1-800-849-6127) to find a contracted supported employment provider in your area
  • Search for a provider using our provider search tool

Need Help?

Finding care can be confusing sometimes. At Vaya Health, we make it easier. The process starts with a phone call to our Member & Recipient Services Line at

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