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LEAD On! - December 2015

LEAD On! - December 2015 Newsletter

Issue 13
December 18, 2015

LEAD Center staff presented at three conferences during the past few months: the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Youth Symposium and APSE’s inaugural Regional Institute, both in November; and the national TASH conference in December.

In November, Michael Morris, LEAD Center Public Policy Co-Lead and Executive Director of National Disability Institute, presented at APSE’s first Regional Institute: From Workshops to Workplaces, in Detroit, Michigan. Morris presented on Financial Literacy, providing a context for why this is so important for youth and adults with disabilities, and the need for disability and workforce professionals to build their own capacity to promote financial literacy in programs and services. He emphasized the opportunities and requirements that make financial literacy particular relevant at this time given the introduction of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, and the HCBS Community Rule that requires people with disabilities to have control over their personal resources.

NAWDP’s Youth Summit, held in November in Chicago, Illinois, drew over 600 youth-focused workforce professionals from all over the country to network, learn new skills, and enhance their understanding of how workforce development is changing for the youth and young adults. Given the requirements of WIOA, NAWDP’s conference offered a terrific opportunity for workforce development professionals to focus on strategies and learn about effective practices for serving all youth. LEAD Center’s Project Director Rebecca Salon and Jamie Robinson, Manager, Financial Empowerment & Workforce, co-presented two different sessions to audiences that included American Job Center Staff, Youth Build Grantees, Job Corps Professionals, Community College Representatives, Career and Guidance Counselors, Juvenile Justice Specialists, Educators and other Youth Practitioners. The first LEAD Center presentation focused on Alternative Assessment Strategies to Open Doors to Employment for Youth: Discovery and Group Discovery. This session helped participants gain a better understanding of alternative approaches for assessing the capabilities, interests, and ideal conditions for employment for youth with barriers to employment that lead to a better job match and improved job retention. Guided Group Discovery and Self-Guided Discovery were introduced as viable approaches that promote employment outcomes and represent best practices for working with youth with and without disabilities. The second session focused on Integrating Financial Education within Youth Programs. This session highlighted curricula that are available, partnerships to promote financial literacy, and “just in time” opportunities to teach youth and young adults about their money. Presenters also shared resources and discussed opportunities to integrate financial strategies into workforce services and improve collaboration with the financial capability community.

In December, LEAD Center’s Rebecca Salon and Brittany Taylor, Project Coordinator, co-presented at the TASH Conference in Portland, Oregon on Complying with the HCBS Final Rule on Control of Personal Resources: Strategies and Tools and Pathways to Employment: A Guide for AdvocatesBoth presentations drew diverse and engaged audiences that included disability professionals, self-advocates, family members, and state and local government staff. The Pathways to Employment session included disability advocates Ricardo Thornton and Germaine Payne as co-presenters and reactors. Both Thornton and Payne are nationally-known self-advocates who are part of the leadership of Project ACTION!, the District of Columbia’s statewide self-advocacy coalition. Chris Rodriguez, Senior Public Policy Advisor at NDI, also presented on Understanding ABLE, which gave an overview on how the benefits of having an ABLE account could help people with disabilities and their families build a more secure financial future. The presentation also underlined the importance of financial literacy among individuals with disabilities in light of increased opportunities to gain competitive integrated employment and accumulate assets.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in partnership with the LEAD Center and Social Dynamics LLC, launched a new website, intended to serve as the go-to resource for Employment First information. This website provides unique, comprehensive data sets and information for policymakers, researchers, and external stakeholders to learn about national trends and activities in Employment First. This new resource will specifically provide outcome data across federally-funded systems that address the needs of people with disabilities including, but not limited to, education, intellectual and developmental disabilities adult services, mental health, workforce and vocational rehabilitation. Users will have the ability to review an individual State’s legislation, regulations, policies, and existing systems-change initiatives, as well as conduct advanced search inquiries into all policies and actions taken around a specific topic, in order to scan what is happening nationwide in that area. Additionally, users can quickly and easily compare multiple states’ categorical outcome data simultaneously. The goal of this website is to improve information access for policymakers, researchers, disability stakeholders, and the public to be better informed about and garner a stronger understanding of the impact of Employment First investments in the United States. For more information, please visit the LEAD Employment First website.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy and the LEAD Center are pleased to have released three Employment First Technical Briefs that are “must-reads” for anyone working to implement Employment First in their state, region or agency.

Technical Brief #1: Connecting the Dots: Using Federal Policy to Promote Employment First Systems-Change Efforts, provides a robust summary and overview of public policy, regulations, rules and other federal administrative guidance that support state efforts to prioritize competitive, integrated employment as the preferred outcome of publicly-financed services for youth and adults with disabilities. The information is organized into four categories: Effective School-to-Work Transition, Utilizing Workforce Development Programs, Engaging Employers and Federal Contractors, and Ensuring Successful Long-Term Supports that Incentivize Work. 

Technical Brief #2: Federal Legal Framework that Supports Competitive, Integrated Employment Outcomes of Youth and Adults with Significant Disabilities, highlights various legal actions taken by Federal enforcement agencies that have significant implications for how states prioritize and deliver services for individuals with disabilities. These actions relate to the organization, financing, and provision of employment and long-term services and supports consistent with an Employment First framework, and reinforce the principle that competitive, integrated employment is a critical component for citizens with disabilities in developing a full and meaningful life in the community.

Technical Brief #3: Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation provides guidance to states and community rehabilitation providers that are involved in systems change efforts aimed at improving competitive, integrated employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities. Based off of the NIST Baldrige Model’s Criteria for Performance Excellence in Systems Change, this brief provides an overview of effective practices that have been developed, tested, and validated over the years that lead to competitive, integrated employment for individuals with the most significant disabilities, including competitive demand positions, customized employment relationships and strategies, individualized supported employment services, and self-employment or entrepreneurism. The framework identifies five facilitators to state systems change: demand for change among target populations; development of evidence-based practices and evolution of models in service delivery; advances in the legal and policy landscape; maximizing efficiencies through goal alignment and resource coordination across systems; and demonstrated improvements in desired outcomes via rigorous performance measurement. Furthermore, the framework provides specific action-oriented criteria and recommendations for both state agencies and provider organizations central to Employment First systems change in the following areas:  Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer Focus; Workforce Focus; Operations Focus; Results; and Measurement, Analysis & Knowledge Management. 

Stakeholders interested in acquiring additional virtual technical assistance on these core components may register for ODEP’s National Employment 1st Community of Practice.

In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. Authored by the LEAD Center, with input and guidance from multiple federal agencies, this Guide provides updated information and examples to help American Job Centers (AJCs) meet the nondiscrimination and accessibility requirements for individuals with disabilities in Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It serves as a practical resource for improving and promoting equal opportunity and access to services for job seekers with and without disabilities in the workforce system.

With demonstrated success in expanding universal access through application of the Section 188 Guide, the State of Missouri approached LEAD to serve as a 188 Pilot Project. In collaboration with the MO State Equal Opportunity Officer, the LEAD Center helped to develop surveys to capture real-time perspectives of AJC customers (both job seekers and employers). Topics in the questionnaire for customers related to the accessibility and overall environment of the AJC, disability disclosure and accommodations, and supports/resources available. For employers, survey questions related to their diversity policies, resources available such as employee resource groups, and accommodation procedures for applicants and employees. All responses were collected at the end of November 2015, and results will help the MO workforce system to plan and implement changes and improvements to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to the array of services and programs of AJCs throughout the state. Information gleaned from employers will help to improve MO workforce services on hiring and accommodating a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities. 

Join LEAD Center for a webinar in January 2016 to learn more on how MO state workforce will use the Section 188 Guide and survey responses as a blueprint for improving access and equal opportunity. Details will be announced early next year.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) represents an opportunity for federally-funded employment-related training and technical assistance (TA) centers to educate, promote, and connect stakeholders to employment resources for jobseekers with disabilities. On September 30th, the LEAD Center held a virtual Knowledge Translation (KT) Consortium, comprised of more than 20 federally-funded TA Centers and their funding agencies, to discuss effective knowledge translation approaches that support people with disabilities in WIOA implementation.

Special guest David Mank, Director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, and Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID), discussed the work of the Advisory Committee and its approach and process to developing the findings, conclusions and recommendations in the recently released interim report. In response to the recommendations, representatives from the TA Centers and their funding agencies discussed how they were already sharing information about WIOA to their respective stakeholders, how national Training and TA Centers could elevate the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, and how to leverage each other’s work and collaborate on training and technical assistance that support implementation of the recommendations made by the ACICIEID moving forward. The continued collaboration of federally-funded Training and TA Centers during and after WIOA implementation is a critical step towards improving employment and economic advancement outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

The KT Consortium is the first-of-its-kind partnership to bring together federally-funded employment-related training and technical assistance centers with separate but complementary missions to identify and execute cross-center training and collaboration. If you are a federally-funded Training and Technical Assistance Center focused on employment for people with disabilities and would like to join the Knowledge Translation Consortium, please contact Brittany Taylor, LEAD Center Project Coordinator, at

On October 22nd the LEAD Center hosted a webinar titled “Disability, Employment & Lane v. Brown.” Moderated by Serena Lowe, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the webinar included presenters from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), along with additional experts from United Cerebral Palsy Oregon and SW Washington and the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The webinar, attended by more than 430 participants nationwide, discussed the relevance of the Olmstead decision as it relates to employment circumstances for individuals with disabilities, in particular the recent settlements and agreements in the states of Rhode Island and Oregon. In both situations, the DOJ found that the states were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Olmstead. With respect to Rhode Island, the DOJ found, among other things, that the state was engaged in the unnecessary segregation of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as observed by the vast placements in one of the state’s largest segregated workshops/day activities service programs. In the instance of Oregon (Lane v. Brown), the DOJ found that the state was in violation of the ADA and Olmstead due to the state’s lack of providing employment services for individuals with I/DD in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs.

As a result of the investigations and substantiated findings in both circumstances, the respective states are now mandated to begin specific processes, developed for their individual states, to begin to significantly reduce the number of individuals with I/DD receiving employment services in segregated settings and resulting in placements in sheltered workshops. We can expect, over the course of the next several years, to see significant increases in integrated competitive employment for the residents of these states with I/DD.

Visit the archive for the October 22nd LEAD webinar on Lane v. Brown for a recording of the webinar, transcript and more information on these cases.

As the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) continues its process of implementation, there are many important aspects that states should be currently preparing for, including the submittal of their Unified or Combined State Plan. These required State Plans, due no later than March 3, 2016, act to create accountability within any given state to ensure cross-agency and cross-program collaboration, particularly with respect to the state’s six core programs:

·         Adult Program (Title I)

·         Dislocated Worker Program (Title I)

·         Youth Program (Title I)

·         Adult Education and Family Literacy Act Program (Title II)

·         Wagner-Peyser Services Program (Title III)

·         Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Title IV)

It is believed that when these programs operate in a truly collaborative manner, employment outcomes are far more favorable and public funds are spent in a more effective manner by allowing programs to complement each other’s supports and services, as opposed to a duplication of efforts. 

On November 9th, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in concert with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), hosted an informative webinar updating relevant stakeholders as to their responsibilities with respect to the composition of their State Plans, and further information on the particular system in which states will need to utilize in order to properly submit such plans.  The “State Plan Portal” (SPP) is expected to go live once the State Plan Information Collection Request (ICR) rules are finalized. Additionally, the webinar points out several actions that states should be currently taking in preparation for the SPP launch and the March 3, 2016 deadline, such as:

·         Ensuring Workforce Development Boards are compliant with WIOA;

·         Cultivating relationships and opening dialogue among the individuals responsible for the relevant state programs (core programs and possibly others);

·         Beginning outreach to populations that historically have significant barriers to employment (including those with disabilities); and

·         Undergoing market and economic analysis of the state and regions (including information specific to populations that historically have significant barriers to employment, such as individuals with disabilities).

For more information about the specifics included in the webinar, please visit the Workforce One website.

Many individuals with disabilities have never managed their own money, created a budget, opened a savings or checking account, applied for an assistive technology loan or understand how to build assets. The CMS Final Home and Community-Based Services Regulations (CMS HCBS Final Rule) recognizes this gap in knowledge and provides guidance to states that they must provide a range of services to people with disabilities to include providing opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive integrated settings, engage in community life, and control personal resources. CMS provided exploratory questions to assist states in assessment of non-residential Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) settings regarding control of personal resources that asks, “in settings where money management is part of the service, does the setting facilitate the opportunity for individuals to have a checking or savings account or other means to have access to and control his/her funds?” 

As states and providers seek to ensure that individuals in receipt of HCBS services are able to and supported to control personal resources, the LEAD Center suggests the following action steps: 1) View the LEAD Center webinar archive on Redefining Home & Community Based Services: CMS Guidance on Non-Residential Services and its Implications for Employment to learn more about the Final Rule; 2) View the LEAD Center webinar archive on Promoting Economic Advancement - Financial Education to learn about the FDIC’s free Money Smart curriculum; 3) View the recent LEAD Center presentation from the TASH conference, Complying with the HCBS Final Rule on Control of Personal Resources: Strategies and Tools and Pathways to Employment: A Guide for Advocates on this new opportunity; and 4) Reach out to us at the LEAD Center for support in identifying and implementing strategies to improve the capacity of HCBS service providers to offer services and supports that build the capability of individuals receiving HCBS services to control their personal resources.

Danielle Smith is the State of Missouri WIA Equal Opportunity Officer. Danielle has been in this position since 2012. Prior to this position, Danielle was Regional Coordinator for the Division of Workforce Development.

Her position includes oversight responsibility for coordinating, implementing, maintaining and monitoring the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) federal regulations.

Danielle first started her career Kansas City, MO as a teacher. She later entered into the Human Resource field in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which led her back to Kansas City, MO where she has worked for private and government organizations in workforce services for more than 13 years.

Danielle received her B.A. from the University of Arkansas - Little Rock and her M.A. from the University of Phoenix.

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) is a national technical assistance and dissemination center jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).

NTACT’s mission is to ensure full implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by helping youth with disabilities and their families to achieve desired post-school outcomes, and through helping states build capacity to support and improve transition planning, services and outcomes for youth with disabilities.

The Center works with State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, State VR agencies, and VR service providers to implement evidence-based and promising practices ensuring students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate prepared for success in postsecondary education and employment.

NTACT is staffed by partners at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Western Michigan University, University of Oregon, University of Kansas, and TransCen Inc. NTACT’s anticipated outcomes include:

1.    Increased access and participation in rigorous academic preparation so students are prepared for success in postsecondary education;

2.    Increased access and participation in career-related curricula so students are prepared for post-secondary employment and careers;

3.    Improved quality of secondary transition services;

4.    Increased use of data-driven decision-making; and

5.    Increased knowledge and implementation of  strategies, including early warning and intervention systems, to reduce drop out and increase graduation.

For more information on NTACT, visit their website at:

Please note: The PDF generated using this link is not 508-compliant and is provided as a courtesy for those who wish to print the material. For a fully accessible version of this newsletter, please read the web-based version.