The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) defines competitive integrated employment (CIE) as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual is:
- Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
- Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
- At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and
- Presented opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities in similar positions.
ODEP’s Initiatives Focused on Increasing CIE
Beginning with its Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP), ODEP has provided targeted technical assistance to twenty-seven states since 2012, focused on aligning state policies across multiple service systems. EFSLMP was the predecessor to VOICE (Visionary Opportunities to Increase Competitive Employment), Veterans RICE (Returning to Integrated Competitive Employment), and NEON (National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network) initiatives, as well as the ASPIRE (Advancing State Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment) Initiative. These initiatives have supported state cross-disability, cross-systems change efforts that lead to improved CIE outcomes for individuals with significant disabilities through a national model of knowledge translation, policy development and peer-to-peer mentoring.
CIE in WIOA
WIOA defines CIE. The official definition and final rule can be used to increase policy development.
Blending, Braiding and Sequencing
Resource Leveraging & Service Coordination to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities — ODEP and DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) joined seven other federal agencies in a joint communication that encourages state and local governments throughout the nation to blend, braid and sequence funding to proactively maximize resources and improve CIE outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Blending, braiding and/or sequencing enables state and local agencies to effectively leverage available funds across multiple systems to contribute appropriate resources and/or services on behalf of individual job seekers to advance CIE outcomes. The joint communication also includes a set of frequently asked questions on leveraging resources.
A Framework for Community Engagement — A Pathway to Competitive Integrated Employment — Developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, in partnership with ODEP and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this brief paper for policymakers and service providers explains the meaning and benefits of community engagement. The paper also includes information about the wide variety of services, that with planning and delivery coordination expand opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities to achieve CIE.
10 Critical Areas to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment
ODEP identified 10 critical areas to increase CIE based on the recommendations put forth in the — Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) Final Report. Below are resources produced by ODEP to address each criterion.
1. Employment First Policy
Employment First Policies come in various forms — legislation, executive orders and state plans. Regardless of the form, an effective Employment First policy defines CIE and describes the roles of various state agencies and partners to achieve CIE for people with disabilities.
- National Plan To Increase Competitive Integrated Employment — The National Plan was authored by Dr. David Mank and Dr. Rich Luecking in collaboration with the five NEON National Provider Organizations (NPOs): ACCSES, ANCOR, APSE, The Arc of the U.S. and SourceAmerica. The plan provides information and recommendations useful to policy makers, funding entities and in-the-field activities in the overall national effort to increase CIE. A webinar on the National Plan was held on January 27, 2022. This webinar provided several points of view on the importance of CIE including Dr. David Mank and Dr. Rich Luecking; NPOs and their participating LPO members; and people with disabilities thriving in CIE.
- Employment First Community of Practice (CoP) Webinar Series — This webinar series provides Employment First technical assistance. CoP participants benefit from national subject matter experts (SMEs) presenting information and resources to support Employment First efforts.
- The LEAD Center — The National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD) brings together a range of organizations, thought leaders and best-practice innovators to expand policy, employment, leadership and economic advancement opportunities and outcomes for all people with disabilities. It is fully funded by ODEP as the WIOA Policy Development Center. It has created numerous webinars and tools that discuss CIE.
- Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation — The EFSLMP developed a set of criteria to help states and service delivery systems successfully implement systems change within a comprehensive Employment First strategic framework. 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.
2. Rate Reimbursement Restructuring
Rate reimbursement restructuring requires states to determine which employment services they incentivize and which they do not. To increase CIE, rates may need to be revised to promote employment services that result in CIE.
- Medicaid Buy-in Q & A — Created collaboratively by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and this guide answers questions on Medicaid Buy-In programs. Medicaid Buy-In is an optional Medicaid eligibility group that allows workers with disabilities with income above traditional limits to access Medicaid community-based services.
3. Capacity Building
The ACICIEID final report defines capacity building as creating policy and funding priorities that promote CIE along with community agencies with skilled personnel to deliver supported and customized employment (CE) to individuals with disabilities. Building capacity at the state level requires (but is not limited to) funding priorities, use of outcome data, skilled personnel and leadership from federal and state agencies.
- Recent Funding Opportunities to Expand Access to Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities — This fact sheet highlights funding opportunities for increasing access to CIE for youth and adults with disabilities in support of their desire to live and work in integrated settings in their communities.
- Staffing to Provide Competitive, Integrated Employment — This webinar, presented by Employment First SME Rick McAllister, discusses the recruitment, development and retention of staff who will effectively promote CIE.
- Most Integrated Employment Setting-State Self-Assessment — This tool helps Governors and State Administrations understand and voluntarily meet their obligations to provide publicly-funded employment and non-work day services to persons with disabilities.
4. Interagency Coordination
Interagency coordination means that state agencies and other partners serving people with disabilities work together seamlessly. To increase coordination and collaboration, some states sign formal memorandums of understanding, but other states find that a comprehensive state plan to increase CIE (or Employment First) can achieve interagency coordination.
- Guide for Creating Successful Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) — This guide provides a step-by-step process that walks agencies through MOU development by illustrating who should be at the table, key areas to include in an MOU, strategies for completing the MOU and tips for implementing the MOU effectively.
- Model Cooperative Agreements Between VR Agency and Medicaid, Mental Health, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Agencies — The model MOU can serve as a template for vocational rehabilitation (VR) and other agencies to use when discussing and negotiating MOUs with state partners from Mental Health, Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Medicaid agencies.
5. Provider Transformation
Provider Transformation is the realignment of a disability service provider agency’s business model from non-CIE to promoting CIE for the people with disabilities they serve. Provider transformation is a gradual process that starts with a self-assessment.
- Provider Transformation 1.0 Manual — 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 — 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.
- Transforming Employment Services from Sheltered Work to Competitive, Integrated Employment for all Job Seekers with Disabilities — This provider transformation issue brief focuses on how ODEP assists states in achieving provider transformation to increase the number of people with disabilities working in CIE, and reduce states’ reliance on segregated, subminimum wage work.
6. 14(c) Phase Out
The ACICIEID final report recommends the phase-out of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Section 14(c) allows providers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. In order to effectively reduce reliance on Section 14(c) in accordance with the ACICIEID recommendations, state agencies and partners can develop policies and practices that will responsibly phase out its use. Aligning policy and funding in support of strategies that support CIE (such as customized and/or supported employment) can assist providers of employment services to reduce reliance on 14(c).
- Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act — Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage — The U.S. Departments of Education and DOL have jointly developed a question and answer document to provide information to employers, agencies and individuals with disabilities concerning limitations on the payment of a subminimum wage. Other than statutory and regulatory requirements included in the document, the contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law and agency policies.
- Subminimum Wage Program: Factors Influencing the Transition of Individuals with Disabilities to Competitive Integrated Employment — This Government Accountability Office report identifies 32 factors influencing whether and how people can transition to CIE. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ODEP, DOL, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
- Examples of State Legislation Passed to Eliminate Subminimum Wage:
7. Employer Engagement
Employer Engagement involves engaging with businesses and employers on disability employment, with emphasis on individuals with learning/developmental disabilities and other significant disabilities. It specifically recognizes that effective marketing to promote disability employment includes featuring businesses that successfully recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities and share their experiences with other businesses.
- Employer Engagement: Letting the Employer Take the Wheel — This webinar dives into employer engagement and explores creating and maintaining CE opportunities.
- Employer Engagement: The Art of Customizing Successful Employer — Employee Job Matches Inclusive of Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities — This webinar discusses managing the employer engagement process with examples from North Carolina and Hawaii.
- Customized Employment and Discovery — CE can be a tool that leads to CIE when the relationship between employee and employer is personalized in a way that meets the needs of both. It is a universal strategy that benefits many people, including people with disabilities who might not have found employment success through other employment strategies. Discovery is the foundation for securing CE.
8. Mental Health
Increasing CIE for people with mental health conditions requires identifying specific applications of Medicaid and other funds and joining with other services necessary for working-age people who use mental health supports for other life needs that must be addressed to pursue employment.
- Measuring Race and Ethnicity in IPS Programs — Research on Individual Placement and Support (IPS) for historically underserved groups, including people of color and people of Hispanic heritage, is of particular interest to federal, state and local leaders responsible for planning and implementing evidence-based services. This brief reviews the research on the access to and effectiveness of IPS for historically underserved groups and suggests a standardized template for states to track race and ethnicity in IPS programs.
- State-level Barriers and Facilitators to Individual Placement Support (IPS) Implementation — This issue brief uses the findings from a 2019 national survey of state mental health and VR leaders to help state leaders to identify common barriers and facilitators to implementing IPS-supported employment and strategies to overcome the barriers, leading to successful implementation, maintenance, and growth of IPS programs.
- Using Individual Placement and Support to Assist Job Seekers and Workers with Mental Health Conditions — This webinar provides an introduction to IPS and explores the role of the workforce system in its implementation. The webinar focuses on the benefits of IPS for all stakeholders, including job seekers, employers, and workforce programs and partners.
- The ADA and IPS-Supported Employment: Improving the Working Lives of People with Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders — This webinar discusses the definition of disability under the ADA and its application to substance use disorders and recovery. Additionally, the webinar dives into the IPS employment model and how it is effectively used for people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
9. Seamless Transition
Seamless transition is the transition of youth with disabilities from school to CIE and a clear career path.
- The Implications of WIOA for Seamless Transition for Youth with Significant Disabilities — This webinar dives into employment transition under and its application to seamless transition.
- Seamless Transition from School to Competitive Integrated Employment: The Oregon Story — This webinar explores the SME and state perspectives on Oregon’s work through its Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program to help youth transition to CIE.
- Seamless Transition from School to Competitive Integrated-State Examples from Michigan and Utah — This webinar explores the process Michigan used to develop an MOU between multiple state agencies to support the transition to employment for students and youth with disabilities, the process Michigan is using to develop pilot sites to demonstrate a single transition design and how to leverage resources and gain buy-in from state partners when developing seamless transition models.
10. Data Collection System
Data and information systems that collect and report a number of important pieces of information about employment and integration outcomes are important. Data collection helps states understand where they are and where they need to go.
- Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL) Data Visualization Tool — PIRL is a set of common definitions that are shared across multiple programs within American Job Centers for performance reporting and shows states how they are doing with disability reporting. PIRL was developed collaboratively by DOL and the U.S. Department of Education as part of the WIOA performance accountability-related provisions.
- WIOA Disability-Related Reporting: A Deep Dive into the Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL) — In Part 2 of this two-part webinar series by the LEAD Center, presenters discuss the definitions and coding for each of the ten disability-related PIRL data elements, why to collect this data, and how it benefits participants and programs. Additionally, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development highlights best practices related to their case management system, guidance for their local areas and staff training.