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Work Toolkit:


The Engage Plan Find Keep framework


People in the engage phase aren't sure they want to work and need help making an informed choice.

They may:

  • Not understand how work can work for them
  • Have limited experience (or experience limited to a sheltered setting)
  • Have fears and concerns about employment that need to be addressed
  • Need help weighing the benefits and risks of employment 
  • Have agreed to discuss employment during a WIOA 511 conversation but aren't sure what that means

A graphic of the Engage, Plan, Find, Keep process with the word Engage highlighted

Waiver Case Managers

Understanding the waiver service

Waiver employment exploration services help a person learn about competitive integrated employment, gain work experience and make decisions about their employment path. For a complete list of covered services, limitations and more, see the community-based services manual.

Expected outcomes from the engage phase include:

By the end of the engage phase, the person makes an informed choice about competitive integrated employment.

To make an informed choice, the person must:

  • Have questions answered and concerns addressed
  • Get work experience in community settings
  • Understand the risks and benefits of different choices

Waiver employment exploration services can help people get the information, answers and first-hand experiences they need to help them determine if competitive integrated employment is right for them. 

Examples include:

  • Educational visits to community businesses to learn about different companies, products, services and employment opportunities
  • Career education activities to learn about specific types of occupations, positions and work opportunities
  • Job shadowing and try-out experiences for work involved in different occupations
  • Individualized work experiences, including volunteer work experiences
  • Education about post-secondary educational opportunities that enhance employment, community employment resources and use of transportation services

To make an informed choice, the person needs to know what benefits they're getting and general information about how benefits support work. They also need to know about helpful tools and resources if they decide to move to the next phase.

Encourage people to:

Exploration activities and experiences strengthen a person's knowledge and help them define their interests and preferences so they can make an informed choice about competitive integrated employment. Employment exploration service activities include:

  • Individualized educational activities (such as watching a video of a person in a similar situation who has been successful in competitive integrated employment)
  • Learning opportunities (such as informational interviews)
  • Work experiences (such as job shadowing)
  • Other related services identified in the person's waiver support plan

For a complete list of covered services, see the community-based services manual.


Selecting a service provider

Dually enrolled providers (who provide both waiver employment and VRS/SSB services) offer a more seamless transition to future phases. It's important to help people understand their provider options and make an informed choice about which provider is best for them.

See a list of dually enrolled providers at Or, do your own search for a targeted list of dually enrolled providers:

  1. Visit
  2. Type Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Community Partner in the search box and press enter
  3. Check Dual Waiver and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Community Partner under Licenses and Certifications in the left navigation column

Understanding informed choice

Informed choice means the person:

  • Has adequate, accessible, correct and complete information
  • Understands the available options and likely consequences
  • Is able to reasonably choose from among these options
  • Can express their choice, free from undue influence

Professionals supporting people with disabilities must ensure informed choice. In the context of employment, historically people with disabilities were often placed in center-based work training or sheltered workshops that were not effective in moving people toward competitive integrated employment. These settings often isolated people from the community as well.

Professionals supporting people with disabilities in employment must work with the presumption that, with interest and the right support, people with disabilities can work in competitive integrated employment.

Because sheltered workshops have often been the expected trajectory, it's important that waiver case managers proactively ensure people know their options and have the opportunity to make an informed choice.

Waiver case managers must always offer the opportunity to work and earn a competitive wage before offering only day services through the waiver. Waiver case managers also have a responsibility to ensure informed choice even if the person participated in a section 511 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) conversation with the Center for Independent Living (CIL).

If a person is paid less than minimum wage, at least once a year they'll be asked to participate in a conversation about their interest in competitive employment. These career counseling conversations are part of Section 511 of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA). In Minnesota, the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) hold these conversations, including completion of a career counseling documentation form (PDF).

To learn more about these conversations, see this introductory video for WIOA Section 511 (10:01).

Even if someone has participated in WIOA conversations and said yes or no to competitive employment, they may still need to continue engaging in exploring employment or they may be ready to starting searching for a job. It's important to help the person connect to the right supports to help them reach their employment goals. 

If the person has concerns about work, check out the supporting people section in the work toolkit for help engaging in conversations about work, connecting with supports and addressing common concerns.

If a person chooses a less integrated setting, the U.S. Department of Justice requires support planners to:

  • Provide information about the benefits of integrated settings
  • Facilitate visits or experiences in community settings
  • Provide opportunities to meet other people with disabilities who work in community settings
  • Identify and address concerns or objections

Minnesota statute requires public agencies to support informed choice for people on waivers. The informed choice process must include:

  • Discussion of the person's preferences, abilities and goals
  • Presentation and discussion of all options
  • Identification of the person's cultural needs
  • Information about the benefits of inclusive and individualized services and supports
  • Exploration and development of new or different options
  • Opportunities to visit different types of employment settings and engage in experiences to understand how each setting might work for them (with the right supports)
  • Opportunities to meet other people with disabilities who work and receive different services
  • Identification of any issues or concerns affecting the person's informed choice and ensuring the supports needed to overcome those barriers are in place
  • Development of a transition plan (if needed) and ensuring the services and supports are in place to make the plan happen
  • Enough time to consider available options before the person makes a final choice
  • Reasonable accommodations as needed
  • Documentation of each option discussed

The informed choice toolkit can help you understand the informed choice standard and how to help people with disabilities live inclusive lives, including supported decision making tools.


Helpful tools and resources

Use Charting the LifeCourse tools to help people start exploring. They can learn more about themselves, set a vision for their best life (which might include work in the community), problem solve and build goals. As they're using the tools, it's important to help people see their options, understand available resources and supports, and see how work could be an option — even a solution to some of their problems.

Find all of these tools and more in the hands-on tools section of the work toolkit:

  • Daily life and employment guide (PDF) to explore what daily life will look like as an adult 
  • My one-page profile (PDF) to describe what people like about the person, what's important to them and how to best support them
  • Life trajectory (PDF) to help the person envision their best life and identify the steps or experiences needed to get there, including how work might be a solution
  • Integrated supports star (PDF) to identify the people, resources and supports in the person's life, as well as how they might help the person successfully work in the community
  • My Vault to complete employment activities, such as the one-page profile, life trajectory and integrated supports star, as well as store and share relevant documents with their employment support team

Moving forward with informed choice

Once the person has made an informed choice about employment, help them move to the next phase.

If the person knows they want to work but remains unsure about where to work or what type of work to do, they're ready for the plan phase and would benefit from waiver employment development-plan phase services.

If they're ready to start looking for a job, they're ready for the find phase and need a referral to Vocational Rehabilitation.

If the person decides that employment isn't right for them at this time and other services make sense, that doesn't mean employment won't be an option in the future. It's important to continue having conversations about work.

Ensure that day, residential, transportation and independent living services wrap around a person's employment goals.

Consider key responsibilities for waiver case managers and employment service providers in the engage phase: 

  • Be available for meetings about employment services
  • Meet with the person to monitor services and review progress toward employment goals
  • Include other people who may be helpful in the employment journey, such as family, friends or other informal caregivers (if the person agrees)
  • Contact the local Vocational Rehabilitation waiver liaison with questions about transitioning to finding a job or ideas for how to support people in exploring employment
  • Use My Vault to share documents and information
E1MN Phases Icon

Sharing success

Are you supporting someone who's working at a terrific job? Have you had great collaboration with your local partners? We want to hear about it! Share success stores through the E1MN request form. Click share a success story under what best describes your inquiry. Your story will be shared with the E1MN interagency team, who may follow up to learn more or share the story with others around the state.

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