OBrien D.E. & Revell, W.G. (2004). Performance-based funding. Job Training & Placement Report, 28(8), 1-3.
Performance-based funding has gained acceptance at a time of increased consumer choice over service providers with greater emphasis on attaining specific vocational goals. This practice ties payment for services to the attainment of specific employment outcomes. To fully utilize performance-based funding practices, there must be equilibrium among individuals needing employment supports, agencies that provide services and those that fund the services. The authors provide criteria that are necessary for a system that meets the needs of each of the three partners in this process.
The points in the provision of employment supports at which payments are made must not only be weighted and spaced so that accountability is maintained but must also allow service providers to meet their own financial obligations. While it might seem fiscally prudent to withhold payments until all employment services have been provided, this might serve to limit service provision to only companies with large amounts of working capital.
Payment amounts must be commensurate with a range of consumer outcomes, so that service providers will not merely focus their efforts on individuals with the greatest likelihood of employment success. Funding must encourage providers to work with individuals with significant degrees of disabilities who may attain varying outcomes.
The authors credit the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission's Community Based Employment Services (CBES) and the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services' Milestones Payment System with providing successful performance-based employment services for individuals with disabilities.
Assessment and person-centered employment planning play key roles in the overall provision of employment services as the long-term needs and goals of the employee are matched with those of the workplace. Performance-based funding programs in Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Louisiana corroborate the importance of initial planning by allotting payment in contrast with the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work program which does not pay for assessment.
Performance-based funding also needs to reflect assistance as individuals with significant disabilities leave one job and move on to another. Retraining for new and potentially better jobs is a reasonable expectation of all members of the workforce. Both Oklahoma's Milestone system and SSA's ticket to Work program support long term retraining efforts.
While performance-based funding, by definition, is tied to specific employment outcomes, it should also have enough latitude to provide other services, such as assistive technology and communication aides, that will enhance success for individuals with significant disabilities.