Employment and Transportation Task Force
The main areas focus for the Employment and Transportation Task Force are:
1) Employment-related activities including advocacy and system change efforts that result in
individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities acquiring, retaining, or advancing in
paid employment at or above minimum wage, in integrated settings in the community.
2) Supporting interagency collaboration and demonstration of new approaches to increase
access to affordable, accessible, transportation options for Floridians with intellectual and
Employment and Transportation Position Papers
Employment and Transportation Task Force Projects
· Benefits Training and Asset Development
During 2012-2013, the Benefits Planning and asset Development project created a new
accessible self-paced workbook, The Changing Face of Benefits, a downloadable guide that
provides an overview of public benefit programs and asset building strategies. The project
also created a new accessible online course, The Changing Face of Benefits, an e-learning
course that provides an overview of public benefit programs and asset building strategies for
individuals, family members, community-based organizations and asset development
partners. The project also enticed more learners to access the online course by providing
continuing education units for professional that support persona with developmental
disabilities. The self- paced workbook, the online module, and the supplemental handbook
were not available in Spanish. It was decided that to meet the needs of Florida’s diverse
population, it was imperative to translate the workbook, supplement and online module into
In March 2014, the Council entered into a contract with the National Disability Institute, Inc. to
translate the Changing Face of Benefits workbook, supplement and online module into Spanish.
NDI was successful in securing a qualified, certified Community Work Incentive Coordinator with
proficient Spanish skills to review the Spanish translations and ensure a high quality product that
is in Spanish and maintains the accuracy of SSA’s rules, regulations, and nuances.
· Rural Routes to Employment
The Rural Routes to Employment Project, implemented by the Center for Social Capital, is designed to identify barriers and solutions to employment in rural communities in Florida and improve employment outcomes through the use of Customized Employment and Community Action Teams (CATs). The Rural Routes to Employment Project is in its third year of implementation. During this project, staff from the Center for Social Capital, Inc. have been successful in creating the following partnerships:
Building Blocks Ministries: Lake County
Bishop Grady Villas: Osceola County
Eagle Medical Management: Walton and Santa Rosa Counties
Goodwill: Henry, Glades, Collier and Charlotte Counties
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation: Suwannee, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla, Franklin, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Calhoun, Jackson, Washington and Holmes Counties.
Measures of systems change emerging from the project include support and commitment from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to fund two of the four job seekers identified in Santa Rosa and Walton counties, and commitment from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to expand to all of area one which includes thirteen rural counties in northwest Florida! The Griffin–Hammis ACRE Community Employment Curriculum was approved on June 25th by VR as an alternative certification to become a Discovery provider.
· Employ Me 1st
The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS) partnered to help Florida understand national efforts and to develop an Employment First initiative in the state.
Employment First is being defined as integrated employment in the community as the first option for working age individuals with disabilities, including individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, receiving publicly funded services. Integrated employment, including supported employment, customized employment, and self-employment means individual employment paid by an employer at minimum wage or greater or earnings through one’s self-employment business, fully integrated in the community workforce, with a goal of maximum self-sufficiency.
The goal of the effort is to translate the lessons learned from existing Employment First states into strategies for effective implementation of an Employment First initiative in Florida.
In Year One of this project, ICI and NASDDS held public forums, focus groups, conducted surveys and conducted research to develop a national findings report, Florida findings report, and draft implementation and marketing plans for an Employment First initiative in Florida.
In Year Two the project:
1) Identified and provided technical assistance around elements of Florida’s employment
system in need of change to align with the seven elements of high performing states
2) Provided technical assistance to the Employment Partnership Coalition, Employment First
Collaborative Team, and Grassroots Group to facilitate the implementation of the
Employment First Executive Order, Interagency Cooperative Agreement, Strategic Action
Implementation Plan, and baseline and target data
3) Developed and disseminated user-friendly materials written in plain language
4) Held a self-advocate forum
5) Held regular grassroots webinars to translate knowledge and build stakeholder support
for Employment First
6) Held regular meetings for the Florida Self-Advocates Mentoring Advisory Group
7) Began planning for a standalone website for Employment First Florida.
Year 3 of the project will increase access to information about integrated employment, increase engagement of stakeholders in Employment First Florida, and pilot strategies for the integration of local issues and successes into state agency operations. Additional supports will be provided to all of Florida’s Employment First teams, and the project will host and further develop and maintain a Florida Employment First website.
· Employment First Collaborative Training Initiative
Individuals with disabilities, including those with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, are gaining access to employment in their communities. However, opportunities for these individuals to obtain quality integrated competitive employment at or above minimum wage remain scarce; for those who do, maintaining such positions is an even greater rarity.
In order to address this disparity, the Employment First Collaborative Team considered seven categorical areas, which are among practices identified by the Institute for Community Inclusion as having a high level of evidence for improving employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Of those seven areas, the Team’s nine collaborating Partners identified training and technical assistance in the top three priority areas.
This initiative will provide consistent training competencies and materials to be used by collaborating Partner agencies and organizations to support quality employment services that promote sustained integrated competitive employment outcomes for all individuals with disabilities, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The training will be targeted to agency and organization staff responsible for all facets of employment for individuals with disabilities, and will be piloted in a minimum of two diverse locations. As a statewide initiative designed to impact youth and adults with disabilities, it will work to address the needs of un-served and underserved persons, particularly those living in geographic areas that have typically not had access to training or quality training materials. Throughout the development of materials, consideration will be given to cultural sensitivity and diversity.
· Employment First Messaging Video
The Employment First Collaborative Team and Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. staff identified the need to provide collaborative presentations on Employment First at various conferences, meetings and trainings. To date, presentations have been requested for the annual VISIONS conference, a secondary transition, career, and technical education conference held annually; Family Café; Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and other major Florida conferences. In lieu of collaborative team members attending each of these events in person, a video/DVD is being created for use by each Partner to the Employment First Interagency Cooperative Agreement at such venues for collaborative messaging. The purpose of this project is to develop an effective and impactful video/DVD with general messaging about Florida’s Collaborative Employment First efforts.
The Employment First Messaging Video/DVD will convey that the state level Partners are embracing and engaged in systems change activities at the state level, and are actively facilitating systems change at regional and local levels.
· Project SEARCH
The Project SEARCH High School transition program is a one-year internship program for students with disabilities. It is targeted to students whose goal is competitive employment. The program is a collaborative partnership that takes place in a business setting where total immersion in the workplace facilitates the teaching and learning process as well as acquisition of employability and marketable work skills. Students participate in three to four specific work rotations throughout the year so that they may explore a variety of career paths. The partnership provides consistent on-site staff including a special education teacher from the school district and job coaches (usually funded by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and a supported employment agency and/or the school).
Benefits of the Project SEARCH model:
Benefits to the Business:
· Access to a new, diverse, talent stream with skills that match labor needs
· Gain intern/employees with disabilities who serve as role models for customers
· Access to demographics of the economy with intense buying power; people with
disabilities represent one of the fastest growing market segments in the United
· Experience increased regional and national recognition through marketing of this
· Performance and retention in some high turnover positions increase dramatically
Benefits to Students:
· Participate in a wide variety of internships within the host business
· Acquire competitive, transferable, and marketable job skills
· Gain increased independence, confidence, and self-esteem
· Obtain work-based individualized job coaching, instruction and feedback
· Develop linkages to Vocational Rehabilitation and service agencies
Upon employment, the candidate receives one-on-one job coaching through Project
SEARCH to learn the job skills and business culture of the organization. Project SEARCH
connects well-trained applicants with disabilities to employers who value diversity.
Project SEARCH sites in Florida
Holmes Regional Hospital
Cape Canaveral Hospital
City of Palm Bay
University of West Florida
Martin Memorial Hospital
Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
Florida Hospital-Winter Park
Palm Beach County
All Children's Hospital
Santa Rosa County
Gulf Breeze Hospital
· FYI Transition Website
Few students with disabilities are employed or have access to support to live in their community, and fewer still have access to post-secondary education. Students with disabilities, their families, and those who support them need to be able to access timely, accurate ad current information on research and effective practices in transition in an accessible and interactive manner.
FYI transition is a Florida-specific website portal for youth with disabilities, their families, and others that provides information about transition and employment. The website provides youth and families with critical information that is necessary to participate in the transition process and facilitate self-determination. The website provides an efficient vehicle for delivering information on transition planning, career and post-secondary education planning, job development and support, career exploration, funding, work incentives, banking and budgeting, health care planning and other information that is vital to the transition planning process.
The website provides information and links to transition resources that include both state and national resources, as well as mini-courses and other content. The mini-course learning modules targeted for students have been split into two complexity levels for each of these subjects: Self-Employment, Post-Secondary Options, Getting a Job and Banking/Budgeting. There is also a Healthcare module that can be accessed through the Council funded healthcare transition web site.
Students in transition have access to several features that help them plan career goals, develop job-seeking skills, and learn about career development, including resume development, interviewing, and learning about interests, exploring careers and personal finance. There is also a student discussion board and a transition game page. The career exploration module provides links to view career videos (both English and Spanish), as well as links to a money management game (Financial Football) and a Virtual Interview. There are also links to explore interests, skills and resume development. A 16-page “Getting a Job” module walks students through the process of job preparation. The website also has a module on self-employment, including basic information, business concept development and where to access resources in the state.
· Let’s Get Everyone to Work: Resource Toolkit for Students & Families
This 45-minute video explores strategies and approaches that lead to successful employment and greater independence for individuals with developmental disabilities. It focuses on the importance of having high expectations for employment and independence and using a person-centered transition process that reflects the interests and abilities of the individual, while developing a collaborative and creative support network. Also included are 12 personal stories of individuals with developmental disabilities who are successfully employed or participating in postsecondary education. You may order one DVD online and make as many copies as you wish. If you need additional copies, please download from the website including English or Spanish subtitles.
· Transportation Voucher Pilot
Based on recommendations from the 2008 Florida Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida study funded by the Council entitled, “Innovative Approaches for Increasing Transportation Options for Persons with Disabilities in Florida,” also referred to as the “Transportation Feasibility Study” and recommendations from the Council’s Transportation Stakeholder’s Task force, the Council is moving forward with a transportation voucher pilot program for individuals with disabilities and seniors living in Florida through a collaborative partnership and interagency Memorandum of Agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT). The Council will provide $150,000.00, and the DOT will provide $200,000.00 for a total of $350,000.00 during year one to initiate at least one pilot program in Florida. The program is slated to begin in the fall of 2013.
Transportation vouchers will provide tickets or coupons to eligible riders with mobility needs that can be exchanged for rides. The provider of the ride can then exchange the vouchers with the sponsoring agencies for payment for the transportation service. They are typically used to subsidize the cost of transit, paratransit, taxis, but may also be used with volunteers where they are exchanged for mileage reimbursement. They give consumers choice and control, allow for the provision of transportation for individuals living outside established public transportation routes, and promote options in rural communities that often have minimal or no public transportation.
This project has the potential to open doors for transportation to employment and community activities, which is often limited or nonexistent in Florida due to funding shortages and medically necessary transportation taking precedence for existing providers of transportation. Moreover, it is anticipated that the pilot will provide a framework to enable replication and sustainability through future grant funding.
For more information about these initiatives, please contact Beth Romans-Corsi, Employment and Transportation Task Force Program Manager via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (850) 488-4180.