LEAD Center is just finishing its fifth year and is proud of its many accomplishments. LEAD Center’s activities are all designed to improve competitive integrated employment and economic self-sufficiency for youth and adults with disabilities. Read on to learn about resources and support to states in implementing the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and creating partnerships that lead to outcomes for people with disabilities.
1. Launched a Redesigned LEAD Center Website. LEAD Center’s website has up-to-date robust resources, organized in four areas: (1) WIOA/Workforce Development, (2) Customized Employment, (3) Financial Literacy and Capability, and (4) Cross-System Collaboration. Its advanced search function makes it easy to access briefs, archived webinars, system-specific information, and state-specific information. Visit www.leadcenter.org.
2. Released Guided Group Discovery (GGD) Materials. LEAD Center released Guided Group Discovery materials, which include a comprehensive PowerPoint, Facilitator Manual and Participant Workbook. These can all be downloaded from the website along with an archived descriptive informational webinar, Guided Group Discovery: Paving the Way to Employment, which provides an overview of the materials and features the experiences of implementers and people who have benefited from the process.
3. Initiated Guided Group Discovery Pilot Projects. LEAD Center staff and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) supported pilot projects to field test the GGD materials in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Through these pilot projects, LEAD Center trained GGD facilitators to implement GGD with adults in the workforce system, people receiving support from vocational rehabilitation, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in-school and out-of-school youth with disabilities, people who are homeless, veterans and more.
4. Released ABLE and Employment Brief, and Held National Dialogue and Webinar. LEAD Center released a brief, The ABLE Act and Employment: Strategies for Maximizing the Effectiveness of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act as a Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes of People with Disabilities, which was created in collaboration with the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN); held a webinar on The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes; and facilitated an online National Dialogue on The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes, to gain perspectives and ideas from broad stakeholders.
5. Supported Systemic Equal Opportunity Activities in the Workforce Systems in Missouri and Virginia, and with Their Partners. LEAD Center has supported Equal Opportunity Practice Networks in Missouri and Virginia that are focused on implementing the Equal Opportunity provisions of WIOA (Section 188), to improve physical, programmatic, and communication accessibility within the workforce and career pathways systems.
6. Provided Knowledge Translation through State and National Organizations. LEAD Center presented and/or exhibited at 18 national conferences and regional meetings on topics related to 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 the HCBS Settings Rule related to control of personal resources; and financial literacy and financial capability. Conferences included the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP), National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE); DOL’s WIOA Convenings; and more.
7. Supported Financial Inclusion and Economic Advancement. Provided support to the multi-state Financial Integration Team (FIT) sites. FIT brings together partners from 11 sites in nine cities. This year, FIT began using Financial Health Assessment and launched LifeCents pilots to support financial literacy and financial planning for people who interact with the workforce system and their partners. LEAD also supported extensive strategic planning in Louisville, Ky. through their long-term LADDER coalition, which stands for the Louisville Alliance for Development through Diversity, Empowerment, and Resources, led by the City of Louisville. LADDER is a collaborative of community-based organizations, workforce services, and financial institutions, designed to identify opportunities for universally designed services and supports that advance financial capability related to employment goals, and to improve positive financial behavior for individuals with disabilities.
8. Collaborated with DEI and WINTAC to Promote Inclusive Career Pathways. LEAD Center worked closely with the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Technical Assistance Center and the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) to leverage each other’s resources as we individually and collaboratively develop materials and approaches to increase employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities.
9. Supported a Statewide Collaboration in Kansas to Promote Employment Outcomes for Youth and Adults. LEAD Center supported a broad-based Kansas Sub-Cabinet on Disability that is working to enhance their cross-agency capacity to serve job seekers with disabilities. As part of their work, members have engaged in a review of their Employment First policies and the funding that can be leveraged across systems to promote employment for youth and adults.
10. Collaborated with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on Financial Education and Economic Inclusion. LEAD Center staff provided input into a new set of FDIC materials designed to support financial literacy and capability for people with disabilities. LEAD also collaborated with FDIC on the webinar mentioned previously on the ABLE Act and Employment and presented at FDIC Regional Economic Inclusion meetings.