National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

The Individual Placement and Support Model of Supported Employment for Street-involved Youth With Mental Illness

Ferguson, K.M.
Book Chapter
Year Published: 2018
Toronto, Canada: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press
Book Title: 
Mental Health and Addiction Interventions for Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Practical Strategies for Front-line Providers
Book Author(s)/Editor(s): 
Kidd, S.
Slesnick, N.
Frederick, T.
Karabanow, J.
Gaetz, S.

This book chapter describes the individual placement and support (IPS) model of supported employment and its application to youth who are homeless. Youth who are homeless have high unemployment rates compared with their housed peers. Housed youth ages 16 to 24 in the general population have unemployment rates ranging between 8 percent and 17 percent, whereas unemployment rates for youth who are homeless range from 39 percent to 71 percent across various samples of youth living on the street or in shelters. The IPS model is an evidence-based vocational intervention that targets individuals who have severe mental illness with customized, long-term, and integrated vocational and clinical services to help them gain and maintain competitive employment. The IPS model follows eight supported employment principles: 1) zero exclusion, i.e., all clients who want to participate are eligible; 2) integration of vocational and mental health treatment services; 3) competitive employment; 4) benefits counseling; 5) rapid job search; 6) follow-along supports; 7) client job preferences influence the type of job sought and nature of support; and 8) systematic job development. In a pilot study investigating an IPS adaptation, researchers recruited from a service agency 20 young adults with mental illness who were homeless to receive the IPS intervention; a control group of 16 homeless young adults with mental illness who received services from a different agency was also recruited. They hypothesized that youth in the IPS group would have greater improvement compared with controls in five areas: 1) ever worked rate; 2) working at follow-up rate; 3) monthly work rate; 4) weekly work hours; and 5) weekly income. The study found that IPS participants were more likely than the control group to have worked at some point during the 10-month study (85 percent vs. 38 percent). Working at follow-up was reported by 67 percent of the IPS group and 25 percent of the control group. The IPS model is adaptable to work with youth with mental illness who are homeless. 

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