Employment Navigators and their Unique Contributions

Texas’s One Slide Challenge presentation during the SELN January 2024 monthly network meeting included a short description of a new employment navigator pilot program. Texas is one of several states carving a navigator role in the employment service system for people with disabilities including IDD. There are at least five states – Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas – with similarly-named navigator roles. These states, each with unique geography and history, have or are crafting how a navigator role can improve employment outcomes, how to fund this role, where and why navigators are needed and navigator competencies. 

Delaware has had a long-running employment navigator role in the Pathways program. Delaware also utilized Community navigators for a non-employment program. Delaware’s navigators are assigned to service recipients to help develop specific goals in individual plans and to provide quality oversight of services. 

In Texas, employment navigators are hired by their local intellectual and developmental disability authority (LIDDA) to serve as points of contact between individuals and their families and the service providers. These navigators also support the development of the employment plan and ensure that services are being delivered according to the plan.  

In New Mexico, the navigators are trained community health workers who help people in rural, remote and tribal communities connect with unemployment insurance and other services that may be difficult to access to overcome barriers to employment. 


Two other states, Florida and Minnesota, have developed navigator programs in connection with the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWCIE) grants so navigators coordinate individuals’ transition out of facility-based day services by either working directly between the individual and the professionals (Minnesota) or coordinating the multiagency team of professionals supporting an individual’s transition to community employment (Florida). 

Our network is continually examining states’ experiences with their employment service systems including specific services and roles.  

We are interested in your perspective on a “navigator” role and function, how this is different from and complements other key roles, any specific qualifications or competencies, and thoughts on how you will know if it is a successful element of your system. 

Written by Jen Bose, ICI

Posted by Amy Huppi on Mar 13, 2024 3:26 PM America/New_York


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