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LEAD Center Promotes Disability Policy at Multiple National and State Conferences

March 31, 2016

2nd Annual Independence through Employment Conference (Florida)

On Feb. 26, Elizabeth Jennings, the LEAD Center’s Assistant Project Director, provided a keynote speech at the 2nd Annual Independence through Employment Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. The event brought together national and state leaders to focus on innovations and emerging best practices in support of the successful transition of young people with disabilities from high school to work, education or training, and from college to careers. Aleisa McKinlay, Director of the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Beth Romans-Corsi, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Employment Task Force, shared the stage with Jennings to provide highlights of national and state policy changes that are aligning the vision of employment for all with the disability and workforce system’s policies and practices. Youth with disabilities and disability service providers in attendance gained knowledge and resources to take advantage of the new opportunities made available through Employment First, the CMS Home and Community-Based Final Rule, the Workforce innovation and Opportunity Act, and the ABLE Act

NAWB Annual Forum (Washington, D.C.)

Promoting Equal Opportunity: Creating Truly Inclusive AJCs

The National Associations of Workforce Boards (NAWB’s) annual conference (The Forum), March 12-15 in the nation’s capital, held special promise as Workforce Boards, Centers and professionals came together from all across the country to, as NAWB noted, “redefine the workforce system as a cornerstone of economic prosperity and global competitiveness.” The theme of this year’s conference was Technology, Community, Transformation.

The LEAD Center provided two workshops to support the workforce system, one on the integration of financial education and other financial capability strategies within workforce services and the other on promoting equal opportunity to create truly inclusive American Job Centers (AJCs).

Tina Lentz, Executive Administrator, Louisville (Kentucky) Metro Community Services Advocacy and Empowerment Division, and Melanie Magill, Senior Quality Assurance Analyst with CareerSource Broward (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), joined Elizabeth Jennings, LEAD Center Assistant Project Director to share Strategies to Enhance Employment Outcomes, Financial Literacy and WIOA ComplianceTina Lentz shared LEAD Center-funded efforts in Louisville, KY to improve the capacity of workforce professionals to provide and integrate financial capability strategies, including financial education, financial coaching, and credit/debt management to workforce center customers and job seekers supported by community-based organizations.

Melanie Magill highlighted strategies CareerSource Broward has employed to improve the financial stability of their customers, with and without disabilities. CareerSource Broward is the number one Employment Network in the country, using part of their Ticket to Work revenue to provide information, workshops, and coaching on personal finances to ensure job seekers are not derailed by a financial crisis.

Rebecca Salon, LEAD Center Project Director; Christopher Button, Supervisor, Workforce Systems Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (DOL/ODEP); and Lisa Stern, LEAD Center Employment Policy Advisor, presented on “Promoting Equal Opportunity: Creating Truly Inclusive AJCs.”  The session focused on LEAD Center’s work with a statewide Equal Opportunity (EO) practice network in Missouri that has been using DOL’s Section 188 guide as a blueprint for providing universal access to their workforce development system and American Job Centers. The guide includes strategies proven to be successful for people with disabilities as universal strategies for all customers, so that the workforce system is better positioned to improve outcomes for more job seekers and to comply with WIOA physical and programmatic accessibility requirements.

The session also highlighted universal design approaches to enhance employment outcomes, including alternative vocational assessments (i.e., Guided Group Discovery and Self-Guided Discovery), and resources available to assist stakeholders in reviewing their state’s Unified or Combined State Plan from a disability perspective. Information from the session is posted on www.leadcenter.org

State Policy Summit: Innovations in Adult Programming (Pennsylvania)

LEAD Center Project Director, Rebecca Salon, presented at a two-day State Policy Summit: Innovations in Adult Programming in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, held on March 22-23, which focused on services and support for adults on the autism spectrum and/or with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and mental health disabilities. As part of a panel on Employment that also included John Butterworth and Jean Winsor from the Institute for Community Inclusion, Salon presented on “Achieving Employment Outcomes: Opportunities to Leverage the Resources of the Workforce System and Other Partnerships” to Pennsylvania state government leaders. Her presentation focused on the opportunities created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to support employment and economic advancement outcomes for people with disabilities, ways that partners can become involved with WIOA implementation, partnership and collaboration opportunities, and opportunities available to promote employment in Pennsylvania through its participation in ODEP’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP).