The Purpose of NEON

In 2016, the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) submitted a Final Report to Congress. The committee recommended to increase the capacity of employment service providers to provide Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) through both organizational restructuring and staff professional development. To address this need, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) established the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative in 2019.

NEON assists National Provider Organizations (NPOs) and their affiliated Local Provider Organizations (LPOs), State Intermediary Organizations (SIOs) and State Government Agencies (SGAs) in advancing CIE.

Realigning Providers’ Business Models: Partnership with NPOs

NEON collaborates with NPOs to increase CIE for the people they serve through provider transformation. The provider transformation process realigns disability service provider agency’s business model from providing work opportunities in segregated settings or at subminimum wages to providing CIE for people with disabilities.

NEON works with NPOs to increase CIE for the individuals they serve, including those with significant disabilities and those who have faced barriers to employment. NEON currently provides technical assistance to five NPOs using a pool of national subject matter experts (SMEs) who serve as peer mentors in provider transformation and customized employment.

NEON also provides one-on-one technical support to LPOs that are members of each NPO. In addition, NEON offers its participating organizations an opportunity to network with one another and to learn about effective strategies through peer-to-peer mentoring.

Current NPO Partners

American Congress of Community Supports and Employment Services logo
American Network of Community Options and Resources logo
Association of People Supporting Employment First logo
The Arc of the U.S logo
SourceAmerica logo

National Plan To Increase CIE

NEON created this National Plan to increase CIE based on input from and experience of NPOs and their participating LPO members in collaboration with CIE experts Dr. David Mank and Dr. Rich Luecking. It is meant to guide NPOs as they work with their respective affiliate members to increase CIE. The National Plan also aims to provide information and recommendations useful to policy makers, funding entities and in-the-field activities in the overall national effort to increase CIE.

ODEP’s Employment First Community of Practice held a webinar to highlight the National Plan. This webinar provides several points of view on the importance of CIE including from Dr. David Mank and Dr. Rich Luecking; NEON NPO's and their affiliated LPOs; and disabled people thriving in CIE.

Resources For Providers

Advancing CIE Policies within State Systems: NEON Core States

Since 2023, NEON has worked with SGAs to promote positive changes in state-level policies and systems. States selected as NEON Core States receive technical assistance to improve employment outcomes within their systems serving people with disabilities. Depending on need, Core States receive 100 to 300 hours of technical assistance from nationally recognized experts to support their strategic goals to increase CIE for disabled people in their state. Areas of focus for the Core States include benefits planning, blending, braiding and sequencing of funding resources, State as a Model Employer and state strategic planning.

Current NEON Core States

Returning Core States for fiscal year (FY) 2024 include government agencies in California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. Maryland, Oregon and South Carolina will receive first time assistance through NEON in FY 2024.

Resources For States

  • Effective Approaches to Benefits Planning – This webinar takes a closer look at benefits planning from a state-systems perspective and highlights a model of implementation from Missouri that can be emulated by states and providers. It also covers how benefits planning can assist all job seekers to understand how their benefits are affected by work activities and how providers and state agencies each contribute to creating a successful system.
  • State Resource Map – Find links to labor, health, vocational rehabilitation (VR) and other agencies for each state, along with relevant policies, initiatives and services.
  • Exploring Networks of Financial Support for Provider Transformation: An Update from California – This webinar revisits Bakersfield ARC (last featured in November 2021) and their transformative efforts to end subminimum wage practices and close their sheltered workshop. It explains how Bakersfield ARC took advantage of state funding and grant opportunities to advance their transformation. In addition, California state officials discuss how these grants were distributed and how their efforts can be replicated with success in other states.
  • Statewide Collaborative Efforts to Increase CIE: Lessons from Colorado – This webinar highlights the combined efforts of state and local organizations to expand CIE throughout the state of Colorado. The Colorado-based presenters detail the development and sustainment of partnerships and policies that go back more than six years, the fundamentals for successful statewide collaboration and the role each stakeholder plays to maximize success.

Policy Alignment within SGAs: Partnership with SIOs

The work of the Core States complements existing partnerships between NEON and six SIOs that joined the initiative in FY 2023. The SIOs will work with their state network and the Core States to realign policy in response to key issues that impact state governments’ abilities to increase CIE at the national, state and local levels.

Some proposed areas of focus include:

  • Revise provider qualifying standards,
  • Address workforce issues,
  • Modify Medicaid waiver service options,
  • Adopt alternative financing methodologies and
  • Include value-based payments for employment services through the use of funding strategies.

Current SIO Partners

The SIOs will be develop a framework to Increase CIE at the state level. This future publication will provide recommendations and tips for states as they strive to increase CIE.