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 Advocates. Both 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.