By Enmanuel Gomez Antolinez
While numerous public, private and nonprofit programs and services are available to support the employment of youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YAD), a lack of coordination between stakeholders can result in service gaps and duplication. Wisconsin used braided funding strategically to increase coordination and alignment between employers, service providers, education sponsors and workforce systems, enhancing Y&YAD services and outcomes. Braided funding is a financing method that uses multiple funding streams to support the total cost of a program or service. It ensures that funding goes where it is most needed, encourages interagency coordination and ensures the appropriate program and administrative costs are properly charged to each separate funding stream. According to the U.S Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy braided funding can be used to:
- Support an individual with a disability with the goal of pursuing, gaining, or keeping Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE),
- Support Pre-Employment Transition Services, and
- Support post-secondary preparation and transition activities.
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Braiding Federal Funding to Expand Access to Quality Early Care and Education and Early Childhood Supports and Services: A Tool for State and Local Communities discusses this in more detail.
While this tool has an early education focus, the analysis it utilizes is equally applicable in a transition setting. Specifically, as outlined in the tool, states and local governments may consider implementing the following strategies to support and expand transition services to Y&YAD through braided funding by:
- Identifying funding streams.
- Identify what funding sources are available in your state or locality and identify how this funding can be used to achieve specific goals.
- Developing an inventory of funds known as a fiscal map, directed toward a particular population (e.g., Y&YAD) or service group. A fiscal map can be used to:
- Recognize duplicative funding streams as well as gaps in funding.
- Establish methods to use funds more strategically.
- Identifying eligible populations and comparing funding requirements.
- For many funding streams, there are rules and restrictions that govern the use of the funds. Therefore, it is important to identify eligible populations and understand the differences in eligibility and reporting requirements among various funding streams available in your state or locality.
- Building and initiating data-sharing agreements to make it easier for state and local organizations to braid funds.
- Developing shared goals and a plan for collaboration.
- Permit local agencies, organizations, task forces, councils or committees to perform coordinated planning and funding functions outside a formal state framework.
- Use interagency planning groups to coordinate funding for specific objectives.
- Building state or local programs that use multiple funding streams rather than leaving it to individual provider level to pursue different funding streams.
- Developing governance structures to support collaboration between agencies and other key players in state or local entities.
Wisconsin is one state that engages in braided funding to support Y&YAD. Wisconsin’s 2020-23 Combined State Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Plan prioritizes and directs state agencies to identify opportunities for braided funding to provide effective employment services to individuals with disabilities. Wisconsin’s WIOA Plan also directs cost-sharing to be negotiated among state entities, such as education, vocational rehabilitation (DVR) and local entities such as long-term care and mental health agencies. For example, cost-sharing may be negotiated among DVR, the school district and long-term care or mental health programs when there is an overlap in educational and employment/rehabilitation goals and services. This negotiation increases coordination between the various parties to ensure their specific funds contributed to the program or service are used for their designated purposes.
Similarly, the Wisconsin Departments of Health Services, Workforce Development and Public Instruction developed a comprehensive Transition Action Guide (TAG). This guide outlines a strategic approach to help Wisconsin state and local governments identify overlaps or gaps in service provision in the areas of communication, coordination and service delivery for Y&YAD transitioning from school to work. It lists funding sources and their eligibility requirements so agencies can pursue braided funding opportunities. The resource also discusses cost-sharing agreements among agencies and when these agreements are appropriate.
For more information and state examples of the benefits of braided funding efforts, review CAPE-Youth’s Improving Transition Services for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities through Braided Funding.
By Katherine Emerson
Current estimates show that 7.7 to 23 million people in the U.S. have experienced Long COVID or its associated conditions. The CDC defines Long COVID as anyone experiencing ongoing, long-term conditions as a result of having been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Long COVID symptoms can last weeks, months or even years. Furthermore, the symptoms of Long COVID can qualify someone as an individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if these symptoms substantially limit one or more major life activities, including employment and education. Youth and young adults with a Long COVID disability may need assistance understanding their disability, understanding their employment and education rights, and navigating systems of support.
Continue reading “CAPE-Youth Launches Long COVID Web Page”
By Dominique DiSpirito and Abeer Sikder
Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions workers with disabilities make to building a vibrant, resilient workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) selects a theme for the month and shares resources for employers, policymakers and other workforce stakeholders. The theme this year, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes “the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.” The theme also highlights the intersectionality of disability with other systemic inequalities, such as racial and gender discrimination.
Continue reading “Celebrating Disability Employment as a Key Component of a Diverse and Equitable Workforce”
By: Luke Byram, CAPE-Youth O’Connor Scholar Intern
January is National Disability Mentoring Month.
According to Partners for Youth with Disabilities Mentoring Director Kristin Humphrey, mentoring is a critical disability inclusion strategy that promotes positive academic, employment and independent living outcomes. Partners for Youth with Disabilities indicate that mentored youth:
- are more engaged in school,
- know more about their career options,
- raise stronger voices as self-advocates and
- find supportive communities more often.
The results of a 2014 study by MENTOR National show “that young adults who were at risk for falling off track but had a mentor were 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.” The same study shows that “mentored youth were 78% more likely to volunteer regularly and 90% were interested in becoming a mentor.” When youth have positive experiences with mentoring, they are more likely to become mentors themselves.
Students with disabilities benefit from work-based mentoring as much or more than their peers without disabilities. Work-based mentorship helps students with disabilities:
- clarify academic and career interests,
- fund education expenses,
- apply knowledge gained in the classroom,
- learn to navigate disability disclosure,
- develop interpersonal and job search skills, and
- network for employment after graduation.
Started in 2002 by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, National Disability Mentoring Month focuses national attention on how mentors create positive outcomes for youth with disabilities. It also shows that when everyone works together, mentoring efforts can make an even bigger impact in young people’s lives. National Disability Mentoring Month aims to:
- raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms,
- recruit mentors and
- recruit organizations to engage constituents in mentoring.
During National Disability Mentoring Month, national partners work with local leaders to organize special events in their communities and invite local media outlets and public officials to attend. These events also help engage adults who are interested in becoming mentors.
Every year, MENTOR holds an event called the National Mentoring Summit that brings together public and private-sector leaders who support the mentoring movement, including:
- youth leaders,
- government and civic leaders,
- MENTOR Affiliates and
- supporting partner organizations.
The National Mentoring Summit is an opportunity for the mentoring movement to advocate for a policy agenda that strengthens mentoring programs and practices. The 12th Annual National Mentoring Summit will be held as a hybrid event from January 26-28, 2022, in Washington D.C.
By: Chip O’Connell
The seventh annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) takes place November 15-21, 2021. NAW is a nationwide celebration where industry, labor, workforce, education and government leaders host events to showcase the successes and value of Registered Apprenticeships for re-building our economy, advancing equity and supporting underserved communities.
Apprenticeships are employer-driven programs that provide hands-on technical training for individuals seeking new skills and employment. Training and instruction are tailored to help the apprentice master skills needed to succeed in a specific occupation. Apprenticeship is a high-quality career pathway, with 92% of apprentices retaining employment in their field and earning an average starting salary of $72,000. Employers utilize these programs to train new employees as well as reskill their existing employees to meet changing demands, resulting in a steady pool of qualified workers. These programs also benefit state governments by lowering unemployment rates and attracting new industries. The Job Corps website contains examples of apprenticeships from programs in industries ranging from automotive and machine repair to homeland security.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken several steps to increase inclusion and accessibility in apprenticeship programs. According to DOL, between 2017 and 2019 the number of apprentices who identify as having a disability increased 550%. Research shows that participation in apprenticeship programs produces a number of benefits for students with disabilities, including experience, employability skills and nationally recognized credentials. An apprenticeship can be a viable career pathway for more than 1.3 million young people with a disability between the ages of 16 and 24.
States are increasingly enacting policies engineered to increase the inclusion and engagement of youth with disabilities in apprenticeship programs. Below are a few examples:
- New Jersey’s Youth Transition to Work (YTTW) Program provides multiple financial incentives for employers hiring youth apprentices, with an emphasis on targeted industries such as health care, information technology or public service.
- Louisiana’s Postsecondary Apprenticeship Pilot for Youth (PAY Check) is a three-to-five semester program that allows transition age youth with disabilities to take classes at Delgado Community College related to specific apprenticeship areas, participate in career development activities, learn community and work skills, and gain employment experience through a paid apprenticeship at the University Medical Center.
- Oregon’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Plan specifically outlines identified issues and how agencies can strategize to make apprenticeships more inclusive and useful in the state.
Apprenticeship programs are a proven way for individuals to discover exciting career pathways and for states to secure employment for their workforces. Be sure to check out National Apprenticeship Week events happening near you
The Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth (CAPE-Youth) is excited to announce the release of our new research web page.
This page outlines opportunities to get involved with CAPE-Youth’s research initiatives on innovative policy and programmatic approaches to improving outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. Input from policymakers, professionals and state agencies who serve youth and young adults is vital to these efforts.
Continue reading “CAPE-Youth Releases Research Web Page”
The Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth (CAPE-Youth) is excited to announce the release of our new apprenticeship web page. This page offers examples of inclusive apprenticeships in states and resources for expanding diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship, such as recently published briefs from the Apprenticeship Inclusion Model (AIM).
Continue reading “CAPE-Youth Launches Apprenticeship Web Page”