National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD Center)
To develop and influence disability employment-related policies and practices, ODEP sponsors five policy development and technical assistance resources. One of these is the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD Center) which promotes employment of people with disabilities by conducting policy development to ensure they receive effective services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Examples of major LEAD activities and areas of focus include:
The LEAD Center focuses on four areas: (1) the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of WIOA - Section 188, (2) apprenticeship and competitive employment for Veterans with disabilities through American Job Centers, (3) the utilization of Medicaid Buy-In to increase awareness of employment opportunities, and (4) financial literacy to promote economic empowerment of people with disabilities. Webinars and policy products will be developed throughout the year in these areas. Additionally, two pilots will be conducted to support American Job Centers. To promote collaboration and decrease duplication of effort, the LEAD Center will facilitate an annual meeting of technical assistance centers that focus on disability employment policy.
Data and Resources to Inspire a Vision of Employment
The LEAD Center maintains the Data and Resources to Inspire a Vision of Employment (DRIVE) website. DRIVE is a resource for state and national statistics regarding Americans with disabilities. Each state profile exhibits over eighty disability-related statistics from education, mental health, vocational rehabilitation, and several other sources. Additionally, DRIVE archives all state policies related to disability employment, contains matrices of disability-specific language from each state's WIOA plan, and includes a search engine to facilitate comparisons across states' disability statistics and policies.
WIOA Data Improvement
In collaboration with DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the LEAD Center will conduct data analysis on the disability elements of the Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL). The LEAD Center will create a PIRL online database for workforce system professionals to analyze their WIOA disability metrics. The goal of the PIRL online tool is to raise awareness about the need to increase the participation of people with disabilities in the workforce.