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Missouri Workforce Development Collaborates with Vocational Rehabilitation & the LEAD Center on NEW Section 188 Statewide Staff Training

September 30, 2016

In September, Missouri’s Division of Workforce Development launched a new statewide training series highlighting disability under Section 188 nondiscrimination and equal opportunity of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). While the state’s Equal Opportunity Unit has developed and facilitated the training series, the State Vocational Rehabilitation and LEAD Center have been working in partnership to offer expertise and best practices in achieving universal access and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.

Through this new training opportunity, Missouri workforce professionals will gain a stronger understanding of Section 188 under WIOA which prohibits discrimination against individuals who apply to, participate in, work for, or come into contact with programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), including partners that are part of the American Job Centers (AJC) system. Although the focus of the training is on disability, AJC staff will learn universal practices under Section 188 that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or political affiliation or belief, among other bases.

As part of the training, workforce staff throughout Missouri will view the three-part webinar series in a group setting with other workforce professionals to allow for questions and discussion with their local Equal Opportunity Officers (EOO). Each training corresponds with a section of the U.S. DOL’s Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. The Reference Guide provides promising practices that promote equal access for individuals with disabilities in the AJC system. The Guide is divided into three sections: 1) Promising practices related to AJCs taking appropriate steps to ensure universal access to programs and activities for all eligible individuals, including individuals with disabilities; 2) Promising practices related to AJCs ensuring equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that includes providing reasonable accommodations, effective communication, and administering programs in the most integrated setting appropriate; and 3) Promising practices related to compliance requirements of the equal opportunity unit in monitoring, continuous improvement; complaint resolution, and corrective action. The guide was developed jointly by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP), Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Civil Rights Center (CRC) and LEAD Center.

Key themes in effectively serving job seekers with disabilities in the Missouri workforce system will be emphasized throughout the training, along with scenarios and solutions that staff may experience and apply. Topics include the role and responsibilities of staff in providing accommodations to job seekers with disabilities; critical engagement of partners such as vocational rehabilitation (VR) in co-serving job seekers with multiple resource needs; and knowing trusted resources and partners to go to for support to reach more positive employment outcomes for job seekers with disabilities.