Background: In 2016, the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) submitted a Final Report to Congress. The report presented issues that impact the pursuit of competitive integrated employment (CIE) by individuals with disabilities and makes recommendations for mitigating these issues. A key recommendation of the committee was to increase the capacity of employment service providers to provide 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).
The Purpose of NEON
NEON is an initiative to collaborate with national provider organizations (NPOs) to develop strategic plans for increasing CIE opportunities 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 for the local provider organizations (LPOs) that are members within 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.
The intensive policy consulting and peer mentoring NPOs and their service provider networks receive through NEON will put them on a sustainable path to increasing and expanding the availability of competitive integrated employment options for the individuals they serve.
National Plan To Increase Competitive Integrated Employment
NEON created this National Plan 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. The National Plan will guide the NPOs as they work with their respective affiliate members to increase CIE. The National Plan is also intended to provide information and recommendations useful to policy makers, funding entities, and in-the-field activities in the overall national effort to increase CIE.
On January 27th, 2022, ODEP’s Employment First Community of Practice held a webinar to highlight the National Plan. This webinar provided several points of view on the importance of CIE including CIE experts Dr. David Mank and Dr. Rich Luecking; national provider organizations including the Arc US, ACCSES, APSE, SourceAmerica, and ANCOR; local provider organizations; and people with disabilities thriving in CIE.
The provider transformation process realigns a disability service provider agency’s business model from non-competitive integrated employment opportunities to promoting CIE for the people with disabilities. Provider transformation is a complex, multifaceted continual growth process. Below are some resources to guide you.
- Provider Transformation 1.0 Manual [PDF] — This manual is intended to help guide and support provider organizations interested in transforming their service delivery models to have an Employment First approach. ODEP also developed webinars on the 1.0 manual.
- Provider Transformation 2.0 Manual [PDF] — This Manual supports providers that are in the midst of transformation with modules that offer an in-depth look at specific areas of organizational change central to transformation. ODEP also developed webinars on the 2.0 Manual.
- Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation — Through the efforts of the Employment First State Leadership Program (EFSLMP), a set of criteria to help states and service delivery systems successfully implement systems change within a comprehensive Employment First strategic framework has been developed. A blended approach of top-down systems-change strategies, combined with community-based capacity building activities initiated by key stakeholders, is critical to the successful implementation of an Employment First strategic framework.