LEAD Center Presents at NCIL Annual Conference
The LEAD Center showcased one of its pilot demonstration projects to advance employment and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for people with disabilities during a panel presentation on July 27 at the 2013 National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The LEAD Center’s pilot project, designed to increase collaboration between Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and local American Job Centers (AJCs), consists of five CILs located across the United States in both urban and rural areas. Each CIL works with 10 job seekers with disabilities in its community to access the services and supports available through the public workforce system by visiting its local AJC.
Karen McCulloh, LEAD Center Project Director, and Alexandra Kielty, LEAD Center Demonstration and Innovations Team Leader, co-moderated the panel with representatives from three of the CILs participating in the pilot project: Dan Kessler, Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham, Ala.; Sheri Burns, Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, Calif.; and Tami Hoar, Montana Independent Living Project in Helena, Mont. The other two CILs participating in the project include IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Paraquad in St. Louis, Mo.
The presentation focused on the goals and objectives of the CIL demonstration for improving AJC service delivery to jobseekers with disabilities, including impacting public policy by involving CILs in the public workforce system, developing promising best practices to produce a replicable model for other CILs, improving employment outcomes, and expanding CIL impact and expertise to create system change.
Panel members addressed systemic employment and work incentive barriers impacting employment opportunities of people with disabilities. CIL panelists agreed that involvement in the LEAD Center pilot project has helped their organizations further develop partnerships with local AJCs to leverage services and expertise to advance employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the local community. As part of the pilot project, CILs are providing disability awareness training to local AJCs and supporting their local AJC with onsite or telephone assistance as needed.
The LEAD Center is creating a CIL Toolkit to help CILs assist jobseekers with disabilities in partnership with their local AJCs. The toolkit includes: 1) a CIL checklist to prepare job seekers before they visit AJCs, 2) an AJC guide discussing the Workforce Investment Act and various services typically provided by AJCs, 3) a disability awareness and etiquette guide for CILs to provide training to AJC staff and 4) an acronym/glossary guide of terms used in the public workforce system.
NCIL reported positive feedback from its members attending the LEAD Center CIL panel presentation. Audience participants shared that the information provided was a new concept for CILs to create collaborative partnerships with American Job Centers to advance employment opportunities for job seekers with disabilities.