Alaska State Policies & Resources
Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Self-Employment Policy Summary:
The Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) supports self-employment as a potential employment outcome equal to other forms of competitive employment. Self-employment must reflect the individual’s career interest and informed choice to the extent that those factors are consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, interests, abilities, and capabilities. DVR’s support of a self-employment Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) will be based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to the viability of the business plan, the financial resources available other than DVR, the information gathered through the assessment process, and the VR counselor’s recommendation.
DVR supports self-employed individuals with disabilities who require supported self-employment and extended supports to perform the functions and operation of their businesses. Supported self-employment follows the same requirements as supported employment. When working with an individual who is considered in need of supported employment services and is also interested in pursuing self- employment, the VR counselor asks questions to explore: whether individual perform a core function of the business; if the business be in an integrated, community work setting; who makes up the individual’s support network; and if the individual is active with a local community rehabilitation program or mental health center, whether there is a commitment to long-term supports for the self- employment goal. Assessments for self employment include a comprehensive analysis of the client’s capacity for self-employment and to determine the supports that will be included in the development of the IPE. Comprehensive assessment activities include technical assistance and other consultation services to conduct market analyses and develop business plans. Any supports and assistance necessary for and concurrent with the development of a business plan should be outlined in an IPE. Specific DVR services and goods for the achievement of self-employment focus on helping individuals to realistically assess the demands and feasibility of self-employment; to identify the appropriate tier of funding; and to develop and implement sound, viable business plans.
IPE requirements mandate the creation of a business plan prior to development and modification of the IPE. Amended IPE must include DVR financial participation, financial reports, alternative funding sources, closure criteria, and an agreed upon income level. Comprehensive business plans are evaluated according to the following criteria: potential profitability of the business, availability of financial resources, and the individual’s ability to effectively manage the business plan. Closure requirements are that the business is operating effectively and is generating sufficient income to cover all business expenses. For clients interested in self-employment, Alaska’s policy specifies two funding tiers. Tier 1 businesses are those requiring $5,000 or less in funding, and clients are not required to have any match funding. Tier 2 businesses are those needing more than $5,000 of funding. Businesses with start-up costs greater than $5,000 require additional funding sources. For these business plans, DVR can support the first $5,000 of costs, 50% of expenses up to $10,000, and 5% of costs beyond $10,000. The client is required to seek funding for 50% of the costs between $5,000 and $10,000 and 90% of any expenses above $10,000. Tier 1 businesses require
abbreviated business plans, and tier 2 businesses require comprehensive business plans with approval from VR managers.
The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.