Individual placement and support programs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can provide assistance to unemployed workers. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Aims to improve occupational and rehabilitation outcomes for people with severe and persistent mental illness
  • Through a supported employment intervention, participants receive rapid job search and individualized job placement services and are encouraged to participate in services with no exclusion criteria
  • IPS specialists help clients find jobs, spend 70% or more of their time in the community supporting participants, and are available for virtually unlimited support and follow-up

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)

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Promising (Third-highest tier)

Individual placement and support programs are not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but have demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor


Target population

Low- and moderate-income adults

Program cost

$5,500 per participant

Implementation locations

Dates active

1996-Present

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased employment by 14.8 weeks over a yearlong intervention
  • Increased earnings by $6,663 and 30 percentage points relative to control group
  • Increased probability of employment relative to control population by 240%

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review.
  • Engage only with employers offering competitive wages and benefits whenever possible, rather than sheltered jobs (positions that are offered only to people with disabilities).
  • Integrate employment services into existing mental health programs.
  • Hire dedicated program specialists focused exclusively on working with their clients on obtaining and maintaining competitive jobs. Keep their caseloads relatively small (25 or fewer clients).
  • Train program specialist to support clients through the entire employment process, from initial job search to ongoing support once employed.
  • Partner strategically with employers based on clients’ expressed professional interests, strengths, and preferences, along with the specialist’s evaluation of individual company cultures.
  • Keep the program open to as broad a population as possible – do not exclude participants on the basis of diagnosis, hospitalization history, criminal justice history, or work readiness criteria.
  • Minimize pre-employment assessments, training, and counseling, instead prioritizing rapid job placement – ideally within one month.

Similar programs

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