Performance-based Funding of Supported Employment for Persons with Severe Mental Illness: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Staff Perspectives
Vocational rehabilitation (VR) supervisors and counselors (n = 35) as well as supported employment (SE) program managers and employment specialists (n = 26) were enrolled in a 12-month evaluation comparing two models of funding services for persons with severe mental illness: fee-for-service and results-based funding (RBF). Quantitative measures of job satisfaction and preference for funding method were obtained prospectively on a quarterly basis, and SE staff activity logs were collected monthly. Qualitative data were collected using a series of focus groups conducted at the conclusion of the study. Despite recording a substantial increase in semi-annualized VR billing charges when using RBF (45–49%), SE staff expressed less satisfaction with RBF over time. Staff raised concerns about increased financial risks and pressures to achieve job placements under RBF. Vocational rehabilitation staff were consistently more satisfied with RBF, expressing particular satisfaction with perceived effectiveness and the payment authorization process. Both VR and SE staff expressed some reservations about RBF, primarily concerning possible pressures for adverse client selection.