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Policy Roundtable Update: LEAD Center Presents to Federal Officials at the U.S. Department of Labor

June 30, 2014

In July 2013, the LEAD Center, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), convened a Policy Roundtable to focus on the challenges and opportunities of leveraging resources across public systems to improve integrated employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The Roundtable, conducted on July 17th and 18th in Washington, DC, brought together stakeholders from the federal, state, and local level to assess the blending and/or braiding of resources to improve integrated employment outcomes. Recommendations were proposed by the group to help overcome barriers to blending and/or braiding resources, increase cross system coordination of resources, and focus on professional development and capacity building.

As part of promoting the implementation of those recommendations, on May 19th, 2014, LEAD Center staff were invited to present and provide recommendations for next steps to a group of federal agencies that meet informally to discuss opportunities to collaborate on policy and practice initiatives to improve the employment of persons with disabilities. Michael Morris, the Policy Team Co-Chair for the LEAD Center, presented a descriptive landscape of current opportunities and challenges that states and localities face in trying to leverage resources across systems to improve employment outcomes of common customers with disabilities. Morris noted that multiple federal agencies have demonstrated some progress in working  together across systems, including Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Transportation, Housing, and Social Security Administration to encourage improved cross system collaboration at the state and community level. “These are extraordinary times for federal system change investments,” said Morris. “The time is right for collective impact supporting braided resource strategies to advance employment outcomes for people with disabilities.”

Serena Lowe, Senior Policy Adviser at ODEP, followed Morris to discuss the opportunity to establish a consistent national message from federally funded systems regarding the braiding of resources to improve transition, employment, and socioeconomic outcomes for common customers with disabilities. The group of participating Federal agencies verbally agreed to work together on new cross agency policy initiatives to clarify how states and localities can braid resources and blend service delivery strategies across systems to support improved outcomes of common customers.

Prior to this meeting, LEAD Center and ODEP staff engaged federal agency representatives across systems to gain further understanding of the state of and support for a braided resource strategy to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. LEAD Center staff, together with ODEP, reviewed federal statutes and rules that require and/or encourage cross-system collaboration for youth in transition and working age adults with disabilities. Memoranda of Understanding between federal agencies and between state agencies also were reviewed to identify promising practices and support for braiding resources.

For more information about blending and braiding of resources, visit http://www.leadcenter.org/policy/annual-policy-roundtable-2013 and look for updates on the LEAD Center website and in future e-newsletters.