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December TASH Conference Features LEAD Center Presentation

December 23, 2013

Lisa Mills, LEAD Center Subject Matter Expert, Lisa Jones, WIA Policy Manager from the Office of Employment and Training at the American Job Center in Springfield, Ill. and Rebecca Salon, LEAD Center Project Director, presented at this year’s TASH conference on December 13th on Helping American Job Centers Offer Group Discovery and Customized Employment Services.  TASH is one of the LEAD Center’s national partners.  TASH’s conference – themed “A Movement United”  – brought together research, practice and advocacy experts to build bridges among stakeholders to create opportunities for people with disabilities across their lifespan to live, work and learn in integrated inclusive settings.

The session focused on the work of LEAD Center Subject Matter Experts, with support from TASH, in assisting the state workforce systems and local AJCs in Illinois and Kansas to offer small group facilitated discovery, customized employment and customized self-employment in collaboration with their partners. The presentation highlighted significant barriers to employment and the expected benefits for jobseekers with disabilities when the workforce system and local American Job Centers are able to offer discovery and customized employment services in collaboration with other systems that provide employment services to people with disabilities.

In addition to providing an overview of the work of the LEAD Center and the resources it provides, this session focused on the role that AJCs can play in assisting job seekers with disabilities in gaining employment, how small group facilitated discovery can be used in AJCs serving people with disabilities, barriers to employment, how customized employment can be used as a universal employment strategy for all job seekers, and how multiple state systems can collaboratively support the funding and delivery of discovery and customized employment/self-employment services.

The session was attended by various leaders including representatives from Vocational Rehabilitation for the state of Illinois, disability professionals working in public and private organizations, school staff working with youth in transition, people with disabilities and family members of people with disabilities.  Attendees provided very positive feedback about the work being done with the AJCs and several of the other LEAD Center projects that were mentioned.