Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-2018


Employment, Families, Disability, Intellectual Disability, ThinkWork


Family, Life Course, and Society | Rehabilitation and Therapy | Social Work


Purpose: Recent policy changes expanding community employment for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) and awareness of the important role of family members as facilitators of these opportunities motivated this scoping review of the literature on family engagement with the IDD service system.

Methods: Researchers used Arksey and O’Malley’s six-stage scoping review methodology (2005) to map a wide range of literature to discover the resources and strategies available to families supporting people with IDD to find employment; the resources and strategies to support people with IDD and families to develop a vision of employment; and the resources and strategies to support people with IDD and family members to move from the employment vision to an employment outcome.

Findings: Most of the literature was exploratory, and supported the positive effect of family engagement with the service system on the future employment of people with IDD. Factors leading to successful employment outcomes included involvement of family members, early expectations and role modeling, and advanced knowledge of the process of transition to employment and capacity to engage in partnership with the service system. Individual and family demographics also affected employment decisions and patterns. There is little evaluation of the literature presenting resources and strategies for individuals and families.

Conclusion: Findings suggest the need for earlier and more frequent engagement with families and people with IDD around employment. Future research should evaluate existing resources and strategies and emphasize intervention studies involving families and people with IDD.


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