With the passing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the recent release of the corresponding regulations, we are seeing a greater emphasis on employment for individuals with disabilities in the general workforce than we’ve ever seen before.

ACT Career Services is proud and privileged to provide supports and services to persons with disabilities as they pursue their employment goals in competitive, integrated settings.

2016posterenglishfrontAs we conclude celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are taking the opportunity to highlight the activities of two State agencies that work every day to improve employment outcomes in Missouri: the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 

VR logo chosen (outline)The Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (VR) mission isto provide opportunities and resources to eligible individuals with disabilities leading to successful employment.”

In Fiscal Year 2015, VR assisted 5,063 individuals in their efforts to achieve successful employment outcomes. 1,753 of these were young people with disabilities. VR can provide a wide array of services designed to accomplish their mission. And they may partner with agencies, such as ACT Career Services, to provide service offerings.

Their website lists the following as possible services:

  • vocational exploration to determine what services are required for you to become employed
  • guidance in choosing suitable employment
  • individual counseling during the rehabilitation process
  • time-limited physical or mental restoration services that can assist you in obtaining employment
  • assistive devices (such as artificial limbs, wheelchairs or hearing aids) that increase your ability to work
  • vocational training to prepare you for employment; this could include tuition/fees as well as books/supplies for education in a college, university, trade school, community rehabilitation program or on-the-job training program
  • transportation costs necessary for you to participate in a training program
  • job-related tools and licenses for you when you are ready to go to work
  • help in developing job-seeking skills
  • assistance in finding you a job

In addition, VR is piloting projects to assist with WIOA implementation. For more information on the projects related to Pre-Employment Transition Services, visit https://dese.mo.gov/files/pre-etsoverviewpdf.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities 

dmh-logoThe Division’s Mission is “to improve lives of Missourians with Developmental Disabilities through supports and services that foster self-determination.” In support of this mission, one of their priorities is Promoting Employment First.

The guiding principle of Employment First is that all individuals who want to work can work and contribute to their community, when given opportunity, training, and supports that build on their unique talents, skills, interest, and abilities.

Why does the Division see employment as an important outcome?

  • Employment is a fundamental part of adults’ lives and helps promote self-identity, self-confidence, self-determination and self-sufficiency.
  • Research has shown that meaningful work leads to greater physical and mental health benefits, positive lifestyles and personal satisfaction.
  • Financial and social capital are increased through employment.
  • According to National Core Indicators, individuals with disabilities want to work.

The Division supports provider agencies, like ACT Career Services, in efforts to assist individuals in their pursuit of employment. The expected outcomes for employment services funded by the Medicaid Waiver are:

  • Competitive employment – employment that results in wages at or above minimum wage.
  • Integrated employment – employment in a setting that is comprised of co-workers with and without disabilities.
  • Individualized– the type of job, work environment, employment supports, and accommodations are unique to each individual’s needs, desires, interests and capacities.

Additional Collaborative Efforts in Missouri

d1ab191f68a5638dd07225debb5660c4-original-seln_longAmong many other things, Missouri is also a part of the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) and was selected this year as a Core State for the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) through the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

People with disabilities are getting jobs – more often and with a higher rate of satisfaction – because of these agencies.

In October we celebrate the accomplishments people with disabilities contribute to the workforce and the progress made in inclusive hiring practices.

ACT highlights local businesses that are committed to making their workplace diverse. Stay tuned to learn about these great community partners.