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LEAD Center Year 4 Highlights

September 30, 2016

As LEAD Center finishes its fourth year as a national training and technical assistance center, we wanted to provide our top 10 accomplishments in Year 4. They include a focus on:

  1. WIOA from a Disability Perspective: LEAD Center continued to be the “go-to” source to get timely information on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) from a disability perspective. LEAD Center published a review of 10 state unified or combined state plans to highlight how different systems address the needs of people who face barriers to employment, including people with disabilities; two guides for reviewing unified or combined state plans to ensure that they support the inclusion of people with disabilities; summaries of Title I and Title IV requirements to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in proposed rules; summary descriptions of the Department of Labor and Department of Education Final Rules implementing Titles I and IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Workforce Development System and Vocational Rehabilitation respectively); and a webinar series highlighting requirements, as well as examples of promising practices from people working in the workforce development system.
  2. Customized Employment: LEAD Center’s focus on Customized Employment (CE) continued, with LEAD’s expansion of CE pilots in three locations in Tennessee and a number of settings in Philadelphia, which included community partners from the developmental disability (DD) and homelessness systems, in addition to workforce and vocational rehabilitation partners. LEAD also supported Self-Guided Discovery pilots in three states, promoting partnerships between the workforce system, vocational rehabilitation, community employment providers, and partners from other systems (e.g., developmental disabilities, behavioral health, community college, Centers for Independent Living, etc.).
  3. CIL-AJC Toolkit: LEAD Center created and released a toolkit to promote collaboration between Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and American Job Centers (AJC), Promoting Employment and Economic Advancement: A Toolkit for Centers for Independent Living (CIL) and American Job Centers (AJC), produced in collaboration with CILs, the National Center for Independent Living (NCIL) and AJCs.
  4. Equal Opportunity in the Workforce System: LEAD Center continued its work to promote the implementation of Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), promoting equal opportunity (EO) for job seekers accessing the workforce development system. LEAD has been working closely with the State Equal Opportunity Officer in Missouri to create a statewide EO Practice Network, which has surveyed workforce staff, employers and job seekers about their experiences related to services for people with disabilities. Based on what they learned, the EO Practice Network created two training series, one for managers and one for workforce; they have been recognized for their work and accomplishments. LEAD Center also began replication work in Virginia during Year 4.
  5. Financial Inclusion: The City of Louisville (KY) continued to increase financial inclusion in partnership with LEAD Center. Their network, the Louisville Alliance for Development through Diversity, Empowerment and Resources (LADDER) works to create a community-wide culture of financial inclusiveness and accessibility that serves the diverse Louisville metro population. LADDER is implementing a financial health assessment and created an online Financial Capability Toolkit for Workforce Development, which can be used in the workforce system and through its partners. This initiative sparked the development of the Financial Integration Team (FIT), a broad-based community of practice that focuses specifically on integrated economic advancement services to support persons with disabilities through partners across the country.
  6. Employment First: In collaboration with ODEP, LEAD Center promoted Employment First through the release of four Employment First Technical Briefs and the launch of a comprehensive Employment First web portal with specific information on all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The web portal is designed to share information on state policies, practices, technical assistance initiatives, and outcomes that focus directly or indirectly on the employment of people with disabilities.
  7. Knowledge Translation: Knowledge Translation (KT) has always been a focus of LEAD Center’s work. This year, LEAD Center presented on WIOA implementation, financial literacy, and more at the national conferences of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), NAWDP’s Youth Conference, the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), TASH, APSE, the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity, the National Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference, Reinventing Quality, and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). LEAD Center also convened its Knowledge Translation (KT) Consortium to discuss WIOA implementation and the recommendations of the WIOA Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID). The KT 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, and transition and accessibility for youth and adults with disabilities.
  8. Redesigned Website: Given the robust resources on the LEAD Center’s website related to WIOA from a disability perspective, customized employment, Employment First, policy updates, financial literacy/capability, and more, the LEAD Center website was redesigned to ensure that users can easily find the resources they seek. The redesigned website structure and its user-friendly search functions make it easy to find resources on any of its topic areas – and to provide workforce development professionals and their partners with a single website where they can find the resources they need.
  9. Employment, Health Care and Disability (EHD) Updates: LEAD Center published 10 EHD updates, in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). These updates focus on the intersection of disability, employment, and health care policy. The LEAD Center’s policy updates provide policymakers, disability service professionals, and individuals with disabilities and their families with information about relevant policy developments regarding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and related topics, with a focus on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
  10. Collaborations on Financial Literacy: LEAD Center collaborated with the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) at the Department of Labor, the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the Department of Education, and others to build disability-accessible resources for workforce development professionals and adult educators about financial literacy to advance economic self-sufficiency, and as a needed complement to creating career pathways.