LEAD Center’s Top 10 Accomplishments in Year 6
As LEAD Center finishes its sixth year, we are proud of our many accomplishments. We designed LEAD Center’s activities to improve competitive integrated employment (CIE), economic self-sufficiency for youth and adults with disabilities, and inclusive practices across multiple partner systems of the public workforce system. Read on to learn about our resources, knowledge translation activities, and support to states in implementing the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), leveraging resources across systems, and creating partnerships that lead to improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
In Year 6, the LEAD Center:
- Advanced Customized Employment. LEAD Center continued to support the implementation of Guided Group Discovery and Self-Guided Discovery in a variety of locations. We released the Self-Guided Discovery Facilitator Guide with a webinar on Self-Guided Discovery: Helping People Discover their Own Path to Employment. We also added to the Guided Group Discovery (GGD) and Self-Guided Discovery (SGD) materials by creating an online GGD Participant Workbook. This online workbook enables youth and adults to easily update their Discovery information and share it between systems. Discovery manuals, workbooks, facilitator guides, and archived webinars are the most downloaded materials on the LEAD Center website.
- Promoted Youth Employment using Guided Group Discovery. LEAD Center launched a statewide Guided Group Discovery (GGD) project with transitioning youth in Oregon and supported a variety of employment projects with transitioning youth with significant disabilities in Philadelphia. The Oregon project trained facilitators from vocational rehabilitation (VR), schools, and workforce systems to work with youth in transition using the LEAD Center Discovery materials. Oregon school and VR staff implemented GGD in six different school districts in different parts of the state. Youth in most of the sites also connected with their local American Job Center (AJC). In Philadelphia, GGD was implemented in five sites, including schools, programs for adjudicated youth, and an afterschool program. These two projects have resulted in the development of a youth-focused version of GGD materials and supplementary GGD activities designed to engage youth in their transition to competitive integrated employment.
- Supported Equal Opportunity in the Workforce System through the AJC Certification Process and Section 188 Implementation. In order to increase knowledge of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA’s) disability-related nondiscrimination and equal opportunity requirements in Section 188 and AJC Certification, LEAD Center collaborated with the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Technical Assistance Center to offer a training series for state and local workforce partners. This three-part webinar series focused on the intersection between WIOA’s disability-related provisions, Section 188’s Equal Opportunity regulations, and AJC Certification requirements, especially as they relate to programmatic accessibility; the role of core WIOA partners; replicable strategies; and action steps taken by multiple states to implement effective AJC Certification processes, using Section 188 as the framework. Virginia, Missouri, and California shared their experiences, strategies, challenges and action plans through which they created partnerships and implemented equal opportunity policies and practices in their regions/states. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the webinar series and related resources are archived on the LEAD Center website. A brief on the promising practices from the webinar series will be issued in October. Sign up for LEAD Center’s mailing list to be notified when it is issued.
- Collaborated on an Expanded Section 188 Disability Reference Guide. LEAD Center collaborated with leaders in the Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center, Employment and Training Administration, and Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to update and expand the Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide, following the release of the final regulations on the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA’s Section 188). The updated Disability Reference Guide, which is expected to be released in October, includes descriptions of, and links to, the current regulations and extensive descriptions of how workforce systems/programs throughout the country are complying with the different requirements of Section 188. Sign up for LEAD Center’s mailing list to be notified when it is issued.
- Supported Career Pathways Partners in Creating Inclusive Career Pathways. LEAD Center joined with the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) and, more recently, the Southeast ADA Center to support a national Inclusive Career Pathways Community of Practice. The Community of Practice (CoP) meets every other month, using a webinar platform. Topics have included Career Pathways: Introducing Entrepreneurship and Small Business Concepts for Youth with Disabilities, Building Employment Opportunities through Inclusive Career Pathways, and more. Membership in the CoP is not required for attendance. To view past webinars and/or sign up to join the CoP, register on the WINTAC website. LEAD Center also created an Inclusive Career Pathways Desktop Guide: Information and Resources to Support Inclusive Programs and Services. Released in late September, the Guide is designed to assist workforce professionals and WIOA partners in locating information and resources to support inclusive practices in their programs and services.
- Supported Cross-Partner Systems Change to Promote Financial Capability for People with Disabilities in Louisville, KY. LEAD Center continued to support cross-systems partnerships in Louisville to increase inclusion of people with disabilities in financial capability programs implemented city-wide by both city and private programs. LEAD Center has supported the expanding work of LADDER (Louisville Alliance for Development through Diversity Empowerment and Resources) since its inception in 2014. LADDER, a collaborative of community-based organizations, workforce services, and financial institutions led by the Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Resilience and Community Services, supports opportunities to integrate financial empowerment in workforce development systems to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities. During the past year, LADDER alliance members from the Office of Resilience and Community Services, Center for Accessible Living, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, and the KY Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) collaborated on a highly successful new matched savings and loan pilot program designed to assist Louisvillians with disabilities to improve their savings habits and make more informed decisions about their finances. This program, LADDER Asset Building Strategies (LABS), has had very positive results in assisting people to become banked, develop healthy saving habits and set/pursue financial goals with confidence. LEAD Center’s work to foster pathways to economic advancement for people with disabilities, including LADDER, is highlighted in the Financial Literacy & Capability section of LEAD Center’s website.
- Advanced Financial Inclusion and Economic Advancement. LEAD Center staff supported a Financial Inclusion Team (FIT) Community of Practice (CoP) to build upon and expand the work done in Louisville. FIT is a peer-to-peer support network that focuses on strategies to support people with disabilities to improve their financial well-being. FIT includes diverse organizations from across the country that share a common interest in the integration of financial capability strategies within their organization, system, and/or city. One of the major achievements of the FIT Community of Practice was piloting innovative programs that integrate a Financial Well-Being Assessment into their service delivery practices. Through FIT, LEAD Center developed a number of resources, including briefs on Federal Regulations that Support the Integration of Economic Advancement Strategies within Disability Employment Services; Integrating Financial Capability and Asset Building Strategies into the Public Workforce Development System; Frequently Asked Questions under WIOA; and more. To view all of the resources, visit the Financial Literacy & Capability section of LEAD Center’s website.
- Provided Knowledge Translation and Capacity Building to the Field to Support Employment and Economic Self-Sufficiency Outcomes. In addition to briefs and webinars noted in other sections of this document, LEAD Center presented and exhibited at numerous national and regional conferences to public and community workforce professionals, disability services providers, and financial capability associations. Topics included WIOA implementation from a disability perspective; promoting inclusive career pathways; promoting equal opportunity in the workforce system using the Promising Practices in Achieving Universal Access and Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide; implementing Guided Group Discovery and Self-Guided Discovery to achieve employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities; financial literacy and financial capability; creating cross-system partners; and more. LEAD Center staff also developed four self-paced online courses on Customized Employment, Guided Group Discovery, and Financial Literacy.
- Released Policy Briefs to Advance Employment Outcomes. LEAD Center released policy briefs on a variety of topics, including strategies to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, and promising practices that promote the successful inclusion of people with disabilities into WIOA implementation. Briefs included a Neurodiversity Brief: Building an Accessible Workforce Development System: Recommendations to American Job Centers on Supporting Autistic People and Others with Disabilities to Promote Successful Employment; Reviewing and Updating your WIOA Unified or Combined State Plan from a Disability Perspective; Five Ways You Can Help Expand Opportunities for Competitive Integrated Employment in Your Community; and more.
- Used the LEAD Center Website to Enable Workforce, Disability, and Financial Professionals to Stay Up-to-Date on Current Resources. LEAD Center’s website includes a wealth of up-to-date information to support the work of workforce, disability, and financial professionals. In addition to the four major sections in the website, which include WIOA/Workforce Development, Customized Employment, Financial Literacy & Capability, and Cross-System Collaboration, the website hosts a Knowledge Translation (KT) Consortium. The Knowledge Translation Consortium brings together federally-funded Training and Technical Assistance Centers, each with their own unique mission addressing different aspects of employment, career readiness and development, transition, and accessibility for youth and adults with disabilities. Consortium members come together to share information on each Center's focus and KT activities. For workforce and disability professionals, a website page provides information and links to more than 25 training and technical assistance centers with resources and information related to improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Additionally, the LEAD Center website also hosts the web portal for DRIVE, Data and Resources to Inspire a Vision of Employment, in partnership with ODEP’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). DRIVE provides comprehensive up-to-date national and state-specific data and other resources specific to employment and disability, WIOA implementation, state-specific policies and initiatives to promote disability employment, and more.