WEBINAR: CILs & AJCs Strategic Partnerships that Lead to Better Outcomes

>>Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so
much for joining today’s LEAD Center webinar, CILs and AJCs: Strategic Partnerships that
Lead to Better Employment and Economic Outcomes. My name is Brittany Taylor, LEAD Center Project
Coordinator here at the National Disability Institute, and I will be today’s webinar facilitator.
I’m happy to have Elizabeth Jennings, the LEAD Center Project Director, here with me,
and I’d like to introduce our very accomplished partners at our participating CILs, including
Judy Roy. She’s the Programs Coordinator for Disability Rights & Resources from Birmingham,
Alabama, joined by her colleague Carolyn Agee, Employment Specialist for Disability Rights
& Resources, Birmingham, Alabama, and also Lois O’Mahoney, Employment Consultant with
IndependenceFirst from Milwaukee, Wisconsin CIL.
For those of you who are new to the series, the National Center on Leadership For the
Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities, commonly called the LEAD
Center, is a collaborative of disability, workforce, and economic empowerment organizations
led by the National Disability Institute and we have funding from the U.S. Department of
Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. And speaking of the Office of Disability Employment
Policy, I’d also like to welcome introduce Speed Davis and love to offer him to say a
few words, so welcome. He’s a Senior Policy Advisor on Workforce System Policy from the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy. Thanks for joining us today,
Speed.>>Thank you very much, Brittany. On behalf
of Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez at ODEP, want to welcome everybody to the call. We
have a business call. I’ll be short. I’ve heard many of the speakers before. They have
good information for you and I’m looking forward to the day. Thank you, Brittany.
>>Great. Thank you, Speed. I’m now going to ask my colleague, Nakia Matthews, to provide
housekeeping tips.>>Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone.
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to send me, Nakia Matthews, a message, or you may email me directly at [email protected]
inc.org.>>Thank you, Nakia. The LEAD Center mission
is to advance sustainable individual and systems level change that results in improved, competitive
integrated employment and economic self sufficiency outcomes for individuals across the spectrum
of disability. And we strive to do that by doing things like today’s webinar. Today’s
agenda will of course discuss the webinar outcomes. We’re going to introduce you to
the CIL AJC Community of Practice, goals, its purpose, and hear highlights. We’ll hear
about the WIOA and its impact on economic advancement outcomes for people with disabilities.
Also hear about upcoming resources resulting from the CIL AJC Community of Practice and
also answer questions about the exciting project. As we go through today’s agenda, as Nakia
informed you, you can place questions into the Q&A box and we’ll hold them until the
end and get to each of your questions, if not on the webinar, certainly afterwards as
well. So at the end of the webinar today, we hope
you’re going to become more familiar with the LEAD Center’s CIL AJC Community of Practice.
You’ll learn about the Disability Rights & Resources and IndependenceFirst experiences, providing
employment and financial services to customers, learn how workforce centers and Centers of
Independent Living can partner together to improve services for job seekers with disabilities,
and quite a bit more. I’m going to hand it over to Elizabeth Jennings and she’s going
to take it away.>>Thank you so much, Brittany. Welcome, everyone.
It’s a real pleasure for me to be with you today. I’m so grateful to our speakers for
coming on the line and sharing their experience and Brittany for being facilitator today and
partners at ODEP for sharing knowledge which they’re going to offer later in the webinar.
LEAD Center CIL AJC Community of Practice is a collaboration with the National Council
on Independent Living, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and
five selected CILs. Many of you may recall in the LEAD Center we did a demonstration
project with the Centers for Independent Living on the screen, Community Resources for Independent
Living, Hayward, California, Disability Rights & Resources, IndependenceFirst, Montana Independent
Living Project and Paraquad in Saint Louis, Missouri. These Centers for Independent Living
partnered with area American Job Centers to support individuals with disabilities who
were seeking employment through their workforce center. If you didn’t have a chance to learn
about that pilot or to see some of the outcomes, I encourage you to go to the LEAD Center archives
to view last October’s webinar. This webinar provided information and findings of that
project. In an attempt to maintain the momentum and the incredible work that the CILs and
AJCs did together, we moved the project from a pilot to a Community of Practice that allows
individuals to share their knowledge and increase knowledge through peer to peer mentoring.
The Community of Practice is designed to bring together the Independent Living Centers and
American Job Centers to provide peer to peer mentorship, training, and technical assistance
between each other and outside experts. Individuals within the Community of Practice learn from
each other, they provide content expertise on a variety of topics related to employment
and economic advancement and as needed supports from outside. Partners from the community,
federal partners are all brought in to add expertise.
We have a pictorial on the screen that shows a circle of support that includes CILs, AJCs,
subject matter experts, ODEP, NCIL and the LEAD Center all providing information to each
other from each other and using that information, again in the pictorial, to provide that information
out to individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders and capture information from
those individuals back into the Community of Practice so that we can share what we learn
and then learn from those that we share with. The Community of Practice has several goals.
One is to create a sustainable forum to enable staff at CILs and AJCs and other workforce
professionals to learn from each other and work collaboratively to improve the employment
and economic advancement of job seekers with disabilities. To provide training and technical
assistance to CIL and AJC staff to build their capacity to implement economic advancement
strategies that remove barriers that keep people with disabilities from getting and
keeping jobs, and a third goal is to develop and disseminate guidance to educate and train
job seekers and the people who support them at AJCs and CILs so that job seekers with
disabilities can get the support they need to become employed, retain employment, and
become financially secure. Although the Community of Practice is still
relatively new, we’re in about the seventh month of practice, already the information
that has been provided both from the Centers for Independent Living, American Job Center
staff and outside content experts have been beneficial in helping all on the line to improve
their understanding of different employment and economic advancement topics and to bring
that knowledge back to the individual that matters most, the job seeker with the disability.
So why did we choose employment and economic advancement? Well, as many of you on the line
know, a core to the LEAD Center’s mission is to improve the economic advancement of
people with disabilities but deeper than that. Employment is a critical component of living
a life of one’s choosing, it provides resources, offers opportunities, decreases isolation,
and improves well being. It’s also an identified goal of individuals with disabilities across
the country. CILs hold to a core mission of person centered planning and goals, and looking
at employment as one of those goals allows for an opportunity to explore deep collaboration
between Centers for Independent Living and American Job Centers who are tasked with providing
employment resources to all Americans. We also look at employment because of the
numbers. In 2013, about 17.6 percent of persons with a disability were employed, compared
to 64 percent of those with no disability. That’s a really incredible gap that makes
you pause to wonder how such a gap could exist and is even more complicated by the fact that
not everybody is counted in these numbers. For all age groups, the employment population
ratio for persons with a disability was less than half that of those with no disability.
Fifteen percent of workers with a disability were employed in federal, state, or local
government, similar to the share for workers with no disability. And employed persons with
a disability were more likely to be self employed than those with no disability.
So within these challenges, we see some promise. We’d like to give kudos to the federal, state
and local governments that are doing a good job of making sure that they have individuals
with and without disabilities in employment at fairly leveled rates, and for those of
you who haven’t had a chance to look into self employment, please reach out to us for
some self employment resources as that is a viable option for individuals with disabilities.
Nonetheless, the challenge remains that we have a deep disparity between individuals
who are employed and individuals who are unemployed within the population.
So the impact of this continues. The higher rate of part time employment of people with
disabilities. So in 2013, 34 percent of workers with a disability were employed part time,
compared with 19 percent of those with no disability.
Sometimes when we look at this rate, we automatically make some assumptions that individuals with
disabilities are seeking part time employment. That does happen sometimes when individuals
don’t have good information about the impact of employment on their public benefits, and
can also happen because of the individual’s disability and the level of fatigue that may
come with that disability. However, another reason for this is that is the range of employment
that individuals are introduced to, can also be lower wage, lesser hours, ultimately not
providing the level of employment and economic advancement they’re seeking.
Unemployment and reduced levels of employment reduce levels of employment diminish financial
security and opportunities to participate in employer benefits such as paid leave, medical
benefits, and retirement funds, key to providing to people with and without disabilities. Through
the Community of Practice we seek to better understand why some of these issues arise
as well as some of the supports we can create to connect people to better paying jobs that
have the number of hours an individual is seeking in the kind of setting that they can
maximize their abilities. So the impact of the Community of Practice
on this is to look at employment services that connect individuals to interview skills,
benefit planning services, education and training opportunities, career pathways and employers.
And many of these can be done through the American Job Centers and through collaborations
such as those with Centers for Independent Living and AJCs and other community partners.
Also, for those individuals who have not yet determined that employment is the path for
them, discussing employment can be powerful in opening those individuals to what possibilities
lay ahead for them and to what skills and abilities they have to offer their communities.
To add to the impressive employment work and capacity of participating CILs and AJCs, this
year we’ve had Subject Matter Experts join the calls to share their expertise on topics
identified that are new and emerging and create promise to job seekers with disabilities.
The Subject Matter Experts have joined the Community of Practice and provided information
on the Disability Employment Initiative, which many of you on the line know is a Department
of Labor collaboration between their offices of Employment and Training Administration
and Office of Disability Employment Policy to provide grants to states, to equip with
the knowledge to improve services, access to services and employment for job seekers
with disabilities through the American Job Centers; Section 503 and VEVRAA, which provide
new goals for the employment of people with disabilities and qualified veterans and a
7 percent utilization goal among federal contractors to ensure that individuals with disabilities
and veterans are hired by federal contractors and equip those contractors with tools so
they can support individuals and self identify meeting compliance rules that Section 503
and VEVRAA require; and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which provides a host
of new opportunities for American Job Centers to look at the way some of their services
are aligned, consider their funding calculations for different services, and improve their
access for individuals with disabilities. We have information on each of these initiatives
on our LEAD Center website, and especially coming out in our LEAD Center newsletter which
will hit the streets next week. If you’re not signed up, we hope you’ll sign up so you
can attain the information. Back to the Community of Practice, we’ve provided
information on these topics because as emerging opportunities, we want to make sure that Centers
for Independent Living and American Job Centers are looking at ways that they can coordinate
under these new initiatives to support staff at both entities in looking at opportunities
that they can collaborate to provide these new opportunities to job seekers with disabilities.
I’d like to hand the mic back over to my colleague Brittany, who’s going to introduce our panel
and take a look at some of the efforts they have taken in relation to employment.
>>Great, thank you, Elizabeth. I think that really sets the stage very nicely for the
case for employment for people with disabilities, and I’d like to turn to our panel now so they
can discuss some of the work they’re currently doing to serve job seekers with disabilities
and in particular discuss some of the collaborations that they have done with their local American
Job Centers to further their work. So we’ll start off with Judy Roy and Carolyn Agee from
community Disability Rights & Resources and then we’ll turn it over to Lois O’Mahoney
from IndependenceFirst. Judy and Carolyn, thanks for sharing with us today.
>>Thank you, Brittany, for the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing here at Disability
Rights & Resources. Consumers who are seeking employment are provided with education and
training and support, both as a group activity designed to give consumers skills so that
they can get and keep employment and on an individual basis where additional support
is available, and I’m going to talk about the group trainings that we provide and Carolyn
Agee is going to give you a profile of several success stories that we have.
We have a series of twelve group training sessions, and I’m going to give you just a
thumbnail sketch of six of them. Basic phone etiquette is an overview of the first impression
that you get whether you’re calling for that appointment with a potential employer or whether
you’ve gotten a job as the telephone receptionist at a job. The first impression that somebody
gets is going to be that voice on the phone and that first impression is made in the first
ten seconds. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It begins with your tone of voice. And we take the trainee through the steps of if you
are a telephone receptionist transferring a caller, always say to the caller “hold on
now, I’m going to transfer your call,” how to put someone on hold, that you never just
press that button but you inform the caller of exactly what you’re going to do, and if
the call gets dropped, what to do, and how to take a message for the person that the
individual is calling if the person they’re calling is not available.
We do another training also related to phones. There’s more to the phone book than numbers.
And in the phone book, you can find information on the different departments and services
at the telephone company and the information on services specifically for people with disabilities,
such as the relay services. There’s a section to this training that we call yellow, white,
and blue. The blue page in a telephone book are a wealth of information about the services
of cities, county, state, and federal services and agencies and there is a list of agencies
such as schools or public utilities or parks. These blue pages give you a description of
the service that these agencies provide and the name of a contact person to reach at those
agencies. Also related to telephone is email, and email
service may be part of a person’s employment but the email belongs to the company, not
the individual at the computer terminal. Emails can be subpoenaed to court in legal battles
and emails can be held against you if you libeled another person in your email communications.
Companies have electronic communications policies, and a new hire needs to know that that communications
policy can result in them being terminated. We go into interviewing, interviewing do’s
and don’ts. The do’s and don’ts focus on such things as don’t show up to an interview wearing
distressed or ripped jeans or six inch hoop earrings or something with a bare midriff
unless you are planning on interviewing at Hooter’s. Don’t have gum and either a soda
can or a coffee in your hands when you go in for that interview.
Turn your cell phone off while you’re getting out of the car in the parking lot before you
even go into the office to interview. Dress for success. Some of our consumers have been
out of work for extended periods of time and they are concerned about what they have to
wear for an important interview. Well, it’s been my experience that black and white, whether
it’s for a man or a woman, always works in an interview and a white blouse for a lady
with either a black skirt or slacks or a white polo or any color polo for a man with a pair
of black slacks, and you can get between 10 and $20 at a thrift store a fairly lightly
used skirt, slacks, a blouse and even a serviceable pair of shoes to wear for that interview.
There is a difference between shopping at a thrift store and shopping at a consignment
shop. Consignment shops are a step up from a thrift store. The quality of the merchandise
is better and more gentler used and the price is a little bit higher. So I usually recommend
shopping at a consignment shop after you get that first paycheck as a reward to yourself.
Then we talk about, after you got the job, things that you can do to give yourself a
better financial foundation. We talk about automatic savings deductions from deposits
in your checking account, getting organized when your bills come to you, having debit
payments go into that savings account, or having your bills debited from your checking
account. We also go over filing your income tax, protection
against identity theft, and predatory lending practices. Before I hand it off to Carolyn,
I’d like to tell you about one person in one budgeting money management class. This individual
was 52 years old. His wife had been the family money manager, and she passed away. And he
was not the best person to pay bills. He didn’t get behind. He was always timely in his payments.
But when things started breaking around the house, he went to a lender to borrow money
for a new lawn mower, which was how he supplemented his income. Then the washer died on him. Went
back to the payday lender for a second loan, and then he had to get a part for his car.
He had a total of three payday loans and at a 17 percent interest rate. His end of the
month budget left him with minus $1.25. He came to the staff person teaching the money
management class and talked to her, and she said let’s go talk to somebody up the street
here at this credit union; they did a presentation at a meeting I was at just the other day,
and I think they may be able to help you. They were able to work out something where
they consolidated his three payday loans into one at a 6% interest, and the man ended up
with $87 overflow in his bank account at the end of that month. He was so grateful and
it was just so heartwarming to see him be able to try and figure out what he was going
to spend that $87 on. Of course, the staff person counseled that he put a big portion
of it over into savings. Carolyn?>>Hello, and thank you for the opportunity
to speak. I’m glad to be able to connect with the AJCs and would like to tell you about
a networking meeting that is scheduled for this Friday. Hopefully it’s going to connect
individuals in the Jasper area with other agencies to help people with disabilities
find work but first I’m going to talk about some of my intake process and some of my success
stories since we’ve been working with the LEAD Center.
When individuals come in to talk to me, first I ask them “are you registered with the AJC,”
because it opens many doors for the individual to find employment. And in my intake process,
I talk to them about the last job they have had, their hobbies, their skills, of course,
do you have a current résumé. We work towards getting a résumé. We do have an accessible
computer lab here. So those individuals who are computer savvy, introduce them to staff
and let them make a résumé so we can go online and perhaps look at jobs and transmit
those résumés to individuals that are currently hiring.
I also go through the process of showing them the various job sites that I myself view on
a day to day basis. When speaking to these individuals, I like to know about their medical
conditions, I like to know about transportation, what benefits these individuals are getting
so they can get some assistance around work incentives and how work will be beneficial
in the end for them. We talk about phones, because here in Birmingham we’re privy to
SafeLink, they don’t have 250 minutes, we’ll do text messaging to keep up with the job
search. And I’m going to talk about three individuals
that I really assisted in finding gainful competitive employment. One individual came
in, he was receiving SSI benefits, he registered with the AJC, we talked about some different
employment opportunities and he was interested in being a commercial driver, so I referred
him to the WIA here, he attended classes and now he’s received a CDL and he’s working with
a trucking company. There’s an individual also that came in that was recently terminated
from employment. She lost her car. She came in, of course we got on the Internet and looked
at different jobs. She is a Certified Nursing Assistant and also had management skills.
We were able to get her connected, her taxes prepared. At present she has a car, she’s
working, and also through our transition program at the time, this individual looking to transition
out of a nursing home, in need of someone to live with him to assist with meal prep
and housecleaning. So they were able to move in together and now she’s doing pretty good,
a bit some trouble with her finances but she has a place to live, transportation, and of
course she has employment. There was a gentleman who is 65 years old
also that came in, said “I’m retired, I can no longer do construction, but I’d like to
get out and work part time.” I talked to this individual about transportation and what he
liked. He said “I like to travel, I like to drive, I like meeting people.” We have a local
transportation system here and he is one of their best drivers and he commutes railroad
workers from Tennessee, Georgia and other local areas to work. Those are three of my
success stories. For other individuals that work with people that are unable to get out
and again some individuals, they’re just not able to work an eight hour shift. I had the
opportunity to meeting with a consumer. She was reluctant to talk to me about some of
the things she does at home. She said “I really want to work but, Carolyn, with MS, some days
are just not good days,” she said, “but I’ve been trying a job and,” she said, “I don’t
know if I should have tried this job,” but she’s been doing something through job online,
called Life Op. I went and looked at it, very great opportunity for individuals that just
can’t tolerate the workplace or the stamina level is just very low. She gets up, she says
some mornings at three a.m. and began working, great pay, great opportunity to earn money
and their income. So I talk with people what they like and actually put them in competitive
employment. That’s about it for me.>>Thank you.
>>Great. Thank you very much. It’s really interesting to hear how you’re framing employment
both within the Disability Rights & Resources and then implementing it on the ground with
individuals, and it’s wonderful to hear some of the partnerships you’ve done with your
local AJC that you’re making sure everyone is registered with their local AJC and know
about it and the services that they provide. And now I’m going to turn it over to Lois
O’Mahoney from IndependenceFirst so we can hear more about the partnerships they have
with AJCs and some of the employment work they’re doing to provide services to their
customers.>>Okay, hi, good afternoon, everyone. First
of all, I am an employment consultant. I work with individuals, what we call consumers who
have disabilities, and what I’m getting now lately is a high number of consumers who have
criminal backgrounds and also coming with a disability as well. And that right there,
the criminal record is probably the biggest barrier that the consumers that I work with
face, especially with trying to get jobs in the job market, the way it is today. What
I did was I wanted to really talk about the employment part aspect of working with someone
who has a felony, even a misdemeanor, but mostly felons. What I do, I reach out to the
employers. At one point I was not big on writing out explanation letters because I would always
coach my consumers into disclosing their criminal record while they’re in the interview. But
that didn’t kind of go over well. I do have a success story I’m going to get to a little
bit later of a consumer who I have who is a felon, actually did five years in prison,
but I kind of want to jump back a little bit to the employers.
Employers have a I guess there is a myth or of hiring someone, especially with a disability,
and then tag along with a criminal record dependent on what the criminal record whatever
the crime is they have done, that also takes place when the employers are trying to determine
whether or not if they want to hire a consumer. This young man that I’ve actually worked with,
we sat down and what we did was we wrote a letter of explanation basically disclosing
his criminal history. We talked a bit about him going to prison, what the nature of the
crime was. His crime was for drug dealing, and again, I say I want to state that it just
depends on what the nature of the crime is that the employer is actually looking at and
whatever the job is, and this young man wants to do custodial work. And so we in that letter
of explanation, we told about what the crime was. He was selling drugs. And also we talked
about that he earned his GED while he was incarcerated. He also got into a custodial
class in which he obtained a certification or certificate. He was in that for about,
I think about 12 weeks, and so then we talked about a little bit, in that letter of explanation,
about what he did, how old he was at the time, and now we’re talking about someone who was
uneducated, basically not really part of the community but really a hindrance to the community,
talked about him, you know, being sorry for, you know, how he the community that he was
living in, how he disrupted that community and that now that he has served five years
in prison, was able to get a GED and also pick up a certificate of completing a custodial
program. Now that, you know, he’s older now, he understands a lot more what he did was
wrong, and that, you know, he’s ready to start working and giving back to the community.
At this point, this young man had two interviews. I’m going to tell you about the first one.
The first one, after I had met with the manager, this was at Wal Mart, met with the manager
there, basically doing some advocating for this young man of explaining that, you know,
he does work with myself and I work with people who have disabilities who are looking to get
back into the workforce or who had never been into the workforce and wants to get into the
workforce. And after explaining all of that, we and they were, the employer, HR personnel
was pretty impressed with this young man’s résumé and what he had done.
Now, here is the clinch. When the young man and I got together, my sole telling of him
was make sure you disclose your criminal record because every employer now does a background
check. So they’re going to know, they’re going to be knowledgeable when you come into that
interview, they just want to know if you’re going to be saying anything.
Well, needless to say, the interview went well. They liked this young man, and after
the interview was over, because I was there with him, he came out, he told me the interview
went well. We talked a little bit and I asked him had he disclosed about his criminal record,
and he stated no, they didn’t ask me. Well, needless to say that when HR called him because
he hadn’t heard from them, they had sent him a letter of offering, they offered him the
position, but HR had called and wanted to know a little bit about his background. Well,
over the phone he was able to disclose, you know, what had happened, but I knew at that
point that it was a done deal because when you don’t disclose in that interview, an employer
will basically think that you are hiding something. And needless to say, this young man did not
get that job. Well, the same young man, we went and did
another interview. This is at a health care center, and if anyone out here knows that
usually felons are barred from a lot of, depending what the felon is, they’re barred from a lot
of facilities or different types of jobs, and this young man applied at a health care
center, and I was able to go and talk with HR director, told her she was what I liked
about this employer, she stayed open minded. I did tell her that, you know what, who I
was and that we work with people with disabilities. That is all I disclosed, the fact that we
work with people with disabilities, because disclosing the consumer’s disability and of
his criminal background, that has to come from the consumer himself or herself.
Well, at this point, she was interested because she read his résumé, résumé looked really
nice, and she wanted to interview with him. This young man and I had a second talk and
this time he decided that we both decided that he needed to take the letter of explanation
in, because I think at the first interview, he was a bit ashamed and his thought was if
they’re not going to say anything, I’m not going to say anything, and then if it comes
up, his thought was if it comes up, then I will speak on it.
This time, I told him, I coached him, and we came a different route. He brought in a
letter of explanation along with another résumé and also the cover letter and he interviewed
with HR personnel, and he did disclose, and he talked about the letter of explanation
actually really helped because as that HR personnel read it and he told me he had put
it down, so then he began to speak on it because he did not she was really impressed, she told
me, because I spoke with her. She told me he did not sit and read it word for word.
She was impressed with the fact of the empathy he had as he was reading and the fact that
I did something that was very dumb and at the time not really realizing the damage that
he was doing to his community, and at that point, she actually hired him. And what we
did was we went in and my advocating for him, we went in what we call a TWE, a temporary
work experience that is through our Division of Vocational Rehabilitation center here in
Wisconsin, and that is an incentive for the employers to hire our consumers. At that point,
what she decided to do was, even though he had the felony, she wanted him to start off
as a security personnel along with being a maintenance. So even though he applied for
a custodial position, she also needed some help with their security at this medical health
center. So not only did this young man acquire a position
in a health care facility which normally, if you look up some criminal crimes, they
bar you for a certain amount of time, but because of this young man’s humbleness and
how he came into the interview and because he was honest, he was open, and I think the
letter excuse me, I know the letter of explanation was another help toward him getting that position,
and so now he will be starting his temporary work experience. He will do twelve weeks which
DVR will pay his salary. He’ll be working four days five days a week, about thirty hours
a week, and he’s going to be also getting experience as a security personnel as well
as doing custodial work and she did state that after his term after the twelve weeks
is over and he’s done a great job, which I know he will do, she would give him a very,
very good letter of recommendation and as once we’re kind of holding up, okay, once
we’re kind of getting close to him finishing up his twelve weeks, then we will start looking
for jobs now and now we have something else to put on that résumé even though he has
a felony, he’s been to prison, he will have had some experience as being a security personnel.
So now we can kind of broaden his goals a little bit as far as custodial work and I
do believe that with this experience that this young man is getting ready to get, he
is, to me he will be a nice commodity to other employers. I think other employers will take
a second look, even though when we sent the résumé in ahead of time, they will look
him up, but the simple fact that he has worked as a security personnel in a medical health
facility, I think it gives him a bigger boost as a felon to get out into the community and
actually better himself and I think this will also give employers a different view on not
so quick to say, well, if you have a felony, you know what, we’re not going to be able
to work here. And again, it also depends on the nature of the crime. And this young man’s
crime, which was drug dealing, yes, it affected the neighborhood, it affected the community,
and but now I believe that with what has been said and what’s been done and what’s going
to happen, I think this young man will have a better outlook on employment in his future
in the future as far as applying for different positions in that job area.
Also, also, I know we talked about I wanted to talk a little bit about the benefits of
hiring a felon, you know, those are some things that we do, myself, and I work with two other
employment consultants here. We talk about the benefits of hiring people with an employer,
and one of the benefits is the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is available
for employers who hire individuals convicted of a felony within one year of the individual’s
release from incarceration. Also, another incentive that is explained
to the employer, which would be the federal bonding program. If the U.S. Department of
Labor initiative program provides employers with insurance coverage at no cost to the
employer as an incentive to hire hard to place applicants. So in other words, if you have,
in some custodial type jobs, cleaning type jobs, they will not hire felons because they
needed to be bonded, but going through this program, the federal government will supply
that employer with that incentive and this way they can get the insurance to bond that
young man and young woman who either wants to work in an office, and those type of settings
would be like banks or particularly banks, where you would have to have cleaning crews
come in through the door. Another thing that I wanted to say, that we
have an awesome DVR, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, here in the state of Wisconsin,
because they, along with other incentives, they have another incentive which is called
which we call OJT, on the job training. That’s another incentive that myself and my colleagues
offer to employers, which is another way of hiring our people, our consumers that we work
with that do have a felony, misdemeanor or some type of criminal background. That is
for 90 days that we, as the employment consultants, we introduce that to the employer and say
that for the first well, for 90 days, DVR will pay half the salary of that individual
that they hire and usually for most of us know that 90 days is usually the probationary
period for most jobs. When we offer an OJT to the employer, we’re looking at for hire.
If we’re not looking if we’re not thinking that we are going to get a hire, then we go
with the TWE, and if we’re thinking that we need to get the consumer kind of more acclimated
doing into what they need to do as far as working the job, usually we’ll go with the
TWE so the employer has a longer time, longer period, to actually evaluate that consumer.
But the work incentive that I was talking about earlier was the OJT, the DVR, Division
of Vocational Rehabilitation will pay that employer half the wage, if the job is $12
an hour, DVR will pay 6, and for some employers, that’s like a good deal. That’s a pretty good
deal that we as employment consultants, we really sell, and we have had some of our consumers
get that and then go on to actually get hired behind that.
And one of the incentives of the TWE, temporary work experience, is that DVR, they go through
another company that will pay that consumer the whole 12 weeks. So in other words, it’s
kind of a sweet deal for an employer and also it’s a sweet deal for the consumer because
that employer gets the chance to see them strut their stuff, to see what they can do
to see if they are going to be on time, if they’re going to how they’re going to complete
their job, if they complete the job. Are they going to have questions about the job, are
there going to be, you know, more inquisitive about wanting to do more. So these are some
things that we as employment consultants, we sit and advise our consumers about when
they go on to TWEs to make it the best one possible because the employer is very much
paying attention to everything that they do. So those were the incentives that we’re actually
working with, and because of the fact that we are seeing a higher number of our consumers
come through the door with felony records, that’s the approach that myself and my colleagues
are taking with our consumers here at IndependenceFirst.>>Lois, thank you so much, and I also want
to extend a thank you to Judy and Carolyn. We really appreciate the information you’ve
provided on your employment services. You know, some of the win wins that I just want
to take a moment to pull out is that when folks are registered with their local workforce
center and they’re customers of the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, that’s
a win win for all entities involved. So the Center for Independent Living, let me start
with the individual. The individual has a win because they get the support that they
need from multiple entities and, in all hopes, the employment outcome that they were striving
for. The Center for Independent Living wins because they met their employment directives
that they had in mind for themselves. The workforce center wins because the person was
registered with them and then achieve their employment outcome, and Vocational Rehabilitation
wins because the employment the individual is their customer and again achieves the employment
outcome. So these partnerships not only provide great
resources and service to the individual job seeker with a disability but when we collaborate
between Centers for Independent Living, American Job Centers, and, as Lois noted, Vocational
Rehabilitation offices, we provide a collaborative approach that lead to outcomes everybody can
share in and celebrate. Not only does the Community of Practice focus on employment,
I have to say if I was an individual job seeker I would really want one of the women on the
line supporting me because the enthusiasm and effort that goes into the services is
impressive. But we also talk about economic advancement and we talk about that because
people with disabilities live in poverty at a rate twice that of their nondisabled peers.
In 2012 it was 27.8 percent compared to 12.4 percent of nondisabled individuals. Also research
has shown many people with disabilities have never managed a budget, opened a savings or
checking account, applied for assistive technology loans or understood how to build assets. We’re
focused on individuals with disabilities today, but this is true of many individuals in low
income communities or living on the fringe and utilizing fringe financial services.
A study by the national organization shows that approximately half of people with disabilities
report a personal income of less than 15,000 and only 7 percent make more than 50,000.
Three in five people with disabilities said they were either struggling to get by and
going further into debt each month or living paycheck to paycheck versus only 34 percent
of people without disabilities. And just over one third of people with disabilities report
that they are not living paycheck to paycheck or have few financial worries compared to
62 percent of people without disabilities. This significant impact that occurs because
of this income disparity, low income individuals with and without disabilities really have
less financial knowledge and ability, achieve fewer financial goals, and have less access
to financial services and products than individuals with higher incomes. The story that was shared
by Judy really notes that when you don’t have the proper access or the proper knowledge
of financial services and products, you can easily get caught in the cycle of debt that
is created by payday lenders and may not be necessary. It may be possible that other more
formal financial services are available to you.
Another impact is that identifying and utilizing strategies to equip individuals with the knowledge
and access they need becomes a critical first step, and it’s one that we haven’t always
engaged in within the disability community, but different new opportunities such as WIOA,
which our colleague, Speed Davis will be speaking of in a few minutes, and other new legislation,
CMS Final Rule on home and community based settings provide new directives from the federal
offices to look at the financial education of all individuals through WIOA and individuals
with disabilities, specifically through the home and community based services rule, and
this provides great opportunity for us as a community to look at what are some of the
things that are needed to improve the economic advancement of individuals across the spectrum
of disabilities. Some of the impacts of that support could be financial guidance such as
benefits planning, savings and investments and tax advice, improve positive behavior
and reduce negative behavior and a cognition that the best time to reach an individual
and teach them about their money is at a point in time when it’s needed, such as during a
job search. There’s so much valuable information that can be provided to people as they’re
exploring their employment opportunities. One was noted earlier by some of the Centers
for Independent Living speaking on the call, and that’s benefits planning, which can be
a great opportunity for individuals to better understand their benefits and make a more
informed decision about the level of work that they’re going to achieve or strive for
and what that level of income is going to have, what impact it’s going to have on their
Social Security Disability benefits. Through the Community of Practice, we’ve been
seeking to build a capacity of Centers for Independent Living and American Job Centers
participating to better understand economic advancement strategies that are just emerging
to add to the impressive work that many of these partners are already doing to improve
the economic capability, financial capability, of the individuals that they serve.
So we’ve already had some Subject Matter Experts join us, including individuals from the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau who shared information on their Your Money Your Goals curriculum
which provides a financial coaching curriculum for service providers that gives you all of
the tools that you need to be able to provide services to individuals with or without disabilities,
and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC’s Money Smarts, which is a free financial
education program that’s available as a train the trainer, as a curriculum, or as an online
course and is available on many languages, including Braille.
So we want to make sure that we leave enough time for Speed Davis to share with us a little
information on WIOA and the importance of WIOA in the Community of Practice and also
to answer some of the questions that you’ve already sent in. So I’m going to hand off
back to my colleague Brittany, one story each from the Centers of Independent Living on
their economic advancement work.>>Thank you again, Elizabeth. Just to keep
things moving, let’s turn to our panel again and hear about how they’re supporting individuals
who might be struggling financially and share a story about that. Again, start off with
Judy and Carolyn.>>Well, as I said, when I related the story
of the gentleman who had taken out the payday loans, that we do provide financial management,
budgeting counseling, both as a general service to consumers but specifically to support people
in their employment goals. We do provide or do have a working relationship
with our United Way agency that does tax preparation for individuals earning up to $50,000 a year,
and we have provided periodic workshops on different opportunities for developing a relationship
with financial establishments, such as credit unions or a conventional banking service.
We have on our board a couple of great individuals, one from Regions Bank and the other one from
Wells Fargo and they have been instrumental in helping us put together a workshop for
individuals. We also are using a tool that was developed by Auburn University that is
a calendar and the individual plugs in their personal bills and then there is an online
tool that helps them budget, sends them reminders, whether they want them or not, of times for
things that are due, bills, utility payments, and either rent or loan payments.
So we take advantage here at Disability Rights & Resources of the skills that are board volunteers
for us, the relationships that we have with United Way, and the skills and knowledge of
each of our staff in specific areas of money management.
Carolyn, did you have anything you wanted to add? She’s sitting across the room shaking
her head.>>All right. Well, thank you very much, Judy,
and I’ll turn to Lois from IndependenceFirst. Lois, did you want to share a story about
an individual who supported who is struggling financially?
>>Well, you know what, I have a lot of that, but I did kind of want to talk a little bit
about our economic advancements that we have here at IndependenceFirst to help overcome
barriers for our consumers and support groups that we provide to our consumers. One is money
management, workshops for people with disabilities. Another one is workshops for people with disabilities
in need of housing. We have a lot of our consumers that are that are looking for housing or who
don’t have housing. So that’s one of the routes that we do offer here.
And one thing that we’re so blessed with is our benefit counseling. We have three benefit
counselors here at IndependenceFirst, so when we get a consumer, it’s easy for us to make
referrals, so therefore our consumers have are enlightened by what they need to know
about their benefits. Another thing that we also do is partnering
with other job centers to do disability awareness training, and then another one would be employment
skill classes dealing with the stress of a new job, job interviewing, job interviewing
techniques, starting new jobs, disclosing the disability, and learning self esteem.
And then we also have a variety of other groups that we offer here at IndependenceFirst as
far as economic advancement to overcome those barriers for our consumers so that they can
get on with their lives, and I think one of the biggest ones, too, would be the money
management and the benefit counseling. So I’m going to close that back.
>>Thank you so much, Lois, and, you know, these are all really good examples for all
of us on the line today who are interested in exploring more opportunities to integrate
that into your work and I hope you’ll reach out to us if you’re interested in doing that.
>>Thank you. Thank you to our panel, huge thank you to Judy, Lois, Carolyn for sharing,
and thank you, Elizabeth for providing wraparound around this. If you have questions for the
panel I’d like to take the time to remind you we’re going to hold questions at the end,
but if you have questions now, please type them into the chat box at any time and we’ll
get to them. Now I’d like to turn to Speed Davis from ODEP
to hear about how these collaborations, how these services can become even more important
and encouraged now that we have WIOA set to be implemented in the coming months.
>>Thank you very much, Brittany. The Work Innovation and Opportunities Act, actually
known as WIOA, was passed in July of this year. It establishes a national network of
centers plus delivery training employment services at the local level. Most of the act
does not become effective until next July but Title IV of the act, which is the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 amended, becomes effective immediately. We’ll talk about that in a couple minutes
here. The networks that the act establishes starts with a State Workforce Investment Board
which receives grant money from the Employment and Training Administration here at the Department
of Labor in order to run their program. Workforce Investment Board is tasked with creating a
unified state plan which describes how One Stop delivery system in that state will deliver
its services. It establishes that state plan will describe how the state is divided up
into Local Workforce Investment Areas, each managed by Local Workforce Investment Boards.
It establishes policy, provides technical assistance to those local entities so they
can effectively serve all of their customers. The Local Workforce Investment Board are tasked
with writing a local plan, has to be renewed every year, as does the state plan, and they
must be signed off on by here at the Department of Labor.
The local board also contracts with third party entities to actually operate the center,
the One Stop CareerCenters, also known as American Job Centers, and they set local policy
and programs so that they can influence the local workforce market rather than the broader
state or national market. One of the very important things we’ll talk about here in
a minute is that the local workforce board is to set criteria for and certify the effectiveness
of the physical programmatic accessibility of the AJCs and partners in accordance with
the ADA. It’s a nondiscrimination clause similar to Section 504 in the Rehabilitation Act in
terms of guaranteeing delivery of services to people with disabilities in a way that
does not discriminate because of their disability. In terms of people with disabilities are scattered
throughout this act which is a major plus for us. It’s much more disability friendly
than its predecessor was and we look forward to celebrating that as it creates multiple
opportunities for advocacy at the local, state and up at the national level. The membership
of the local WIB must have a representative from the local probably district offices,
VR offices, Vocational Rehabilitation office, and it must have room for representatives
of community based organizations that have demonstrated experience and expertise addressing
employment needs,, including individuals with disabilities. This is an opportunity for individuals
or advocacy groups like the Centers for Independent Living to approach their Local Workforce Investment
Board, American Job Centers, and volunteer their services, offer their services, both
in technical assistance training and providing other information that will help the AJCs
better serve people with disabilities. The local board, I talked about the certification
a minute ago, about their programmatic access and physical access. There must be a certification
by the local investment board which is set criteria that the One Stop operators must
meet in order to continue operation. Certification must be renewed every three years and there
must be it must be part of a continuous improvement plan. We don’t assume that because a One Stop
has some effective level of services right now for people with disabilities, that that
will stay the same. It will change and must continue to change and upgrade services and
physical plan and assistive technology so they stay current and continue to be able
to provide effective services for people with disabilities.
Now, those, Section 188 exist in the currently, so One Stops have obligation to be meeting
their criteria in Section 188. We here at ODEP, along with the Civil Rights Center,
Department of Labor, and the Employment Training Administration, which is the parent agency
of the One Stop system, have been developing a guide which will be available later this
fall for the One Stop Centers that covers all aspects of One Stop operation, from recruitment
and orientation all the way through service delivery and job placement, and it contains
multiple instances of examples of ways that the One Stop can meet, can deliver services
to people with disabilities in a way that eliminates discrimination in the delivery
of services. And that certification must be renewed every three years. 504 of the act
is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amendment, and it has several things of note. The first
is it establishes an advisory committee on increasing competitive integrated employment
for individuals with disabilities. This is a committee that will report to the Secretary
of Labor. It is tasked with providing two reports, providing recommendations to the
secretary in ways that the workforce investment system, the broad system, can be improved
in terms of coordination between programs, in terms of reducing barriers, both programmatic
and physical barriers, to open up the system to people with disabilities. We think this
is an important opportunity to reconfigure the employment service provision system that
the government now operates. I think most of us will agree not operate as well as we
would like it to. So this is a chance to really turn things around and we’re looking at it
as a great opportunity to make some gains. In addition to recommending ways to increase
employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, it also will address the Section
14(c) subminimum wage provisions of the Wage and Hour law in ways I’ll mention in just
a couple minutes. The committee will have representatives from
a number of federal agencies, all of whom are involved in employment services for people
with disabilities, such as the Social Security Administration, Rehabilitation Services Administration,
now the administration on community living over at HHS, and other agencies including
here at DOL. And it will also have room for self advocates and advocacy groups, NCILs
increasing competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. So here’s another opportunity,
the open open right now, we are soliciting nominations for people to be on this committee.
It was supposed to be established by October 1st. They will miss the deadline, appointed
by the Secretary of Labor. If you go to the ODEP website at DOL.gov/ODEP, top of the toolbar
click on newsroom, then click on “press releases,” there’s a press release there that contains
all the information. You would need submitting nominations, what you need to submit, how
and where to submit it. The Rehabilitation Act also makes structural
changes that are of note to the participants in this particular call. The independent living
programs which have been, since their beginning, based over at the Office of Special Education
and rehabilitation programs and the rehabilitation service administration, have been moved, they
are now part of the administration on community living and Department of Health and Human
Services, and that change is effective immediately. Also, the center technology programs are being
moved also to that same agency. So we’ve got some bureaucratic stuff to work
through there. I’m not sure what the import of the changes are but we need to be cognizant
and look for opportunities to influence how that move takes place.
In a move to make a tighter connection between VR and the One Stop career system, the Rehabilitation
Act requires the State Vocational Rehabilitation to include its state plan for voc rehabilitation
services in the broader state plan I described just a few minutes ago, so there will be a
tight connection between the VR programs, VR agencies, and the One Stop CareerCenters
in terms of integrating programs, in terms of sharing resources, in terms of hopefully
becoming and making a more effective service delivery system. One of the things we’re happy
about here at ODEP is the act does include for the first time a definition of customized
employment and describes it as a service that is allowable to be paid for using Vocational
Rehabilitation funds. And lastly, it establishes limitations on the use of the subminimum wage
14(c) certificates. Currently the 14(c) subminimum wage provision allows entities to hold certificates
which are granted by the wage and hour division here at the Department of Labor to pay people
with disabilities lower than the federal minimum wage, in their eyes, based on the level of
production, the person with disability is capable of providing. The act says that the
certificate, from now on, certificate holders may not compensate an individual with disability
under [indiscernible] unless certain conditions are made and the conditions are outlined in
the act. What this is trying to do is close the door to further referrals, which are now
called sheltered workshops and phasing out the sheltered workforce system in favor of
[indiscernible]. We have experience with the customized model here. At ODEP we have tremendous
success at taking people who are one day sitting in a workshop making $2 an hour and put them
through customized employment process, we find them a job that matches their abilities,
skills and interests and pays at least minimum wage or higher, and so that individual who
one day was devalued, not seen as worthy of earning full minimum wage, we put them to
work through exactly that same thing. I’ll stop there because of time. You will
hear in a couple minutes about a future webinar that will go into more detail about the Workforce
Investment Act. Back to you, Brittany.>>As we can hear, there’s a huge amount of
changes coming and the LEAD Center will make sure to keep everyone informed about those
changes and how they will affect the employment and economic advancement outcomes of people
with disabilities. Moving forward, we did want to make sure we
get your input and how we can help meet the needs of CILs and AJCs in future training
topics, so I encourage you to share your thoughts. And also keep us in mind when we expand the
CIL AJC Community of Practice. We’ll let you know when those opportunities come up. And
certainly not the least important thing, we want to make sure we share this survey link
to share with your local CILs. There’s quite a few CILs on the call today and we encourage,
especially those that are participating, to click the link, take the survey so we can
learn a bit more about what you’re doing in employment and economic advancement and financial
capability services. This survey will go a long way in helping us to identify some of
the best practices that maybe we haven’t thought of. So please take a click on the link, and
this will also be available after the webinar. And then I’m going to turn this back over
to Elizabeth for some final questions.>>So we just have a few questions in the
chat box and just wanted to let you know we have captured your questions to answer after
the event but we did want to say thank you to our partners from IRS on the line, and
they’re a great resource for those interested in doing free tax preparation services, so
if you haven’t had a chance yet to fill out the CIL survey, we ask that question on there.
If you’re interested in information on providing free tax services and other services that
we can best understand how to support you in those endeavors and connect you with the
IRS.>>Great. Thank you, Elizabeth. To wrap everything
up, we have an upcoming resource, Promoting Employment and Economic Advancement: A Toolkit
for CILs and a AJCs, and it will really complement some of the things you learned about the Community
of Practice today very, very nicely. It’s in a final review process and released soon.
In this toolkit, it will help deepen the understanding of CIL and AJC services to each other so that
it can improve the lives of job seekers with disabilities through employment, includes
checklists, guides, fact sheets, some acronym guides and will help leverage CIL knowledge
and skills on disability issues and community resources and AJC training and employment
services to maximize the talents and skills of both partners. Keep an eye out for that.
We encourage you to sign up for the LEAD Center mailing list to get those updates. As you
know, the LEAD Center does offer this free webinar series the last Wednesday of each
month 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. This closes out our 2014 series and check up to keep updated on
future webinars. With that, I want to extend a huge thank you
to all presenters, to Elizabeth, my colleagues here at National Disability Institute, and
to our wonderful partners at the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Thank you everyone for joining us today and have a wonderful day. Bye bye.

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