October 2018 Monthly News and Updates
 National Disability Employment Awareness Month #NDEAM #EmpoweringAll #ExpectAbility #EmployAbility
Believing in Life Unlimited

By Hannah Boudreau
From a young age, children are taught that they can be anything they want to be. Whether it be a doctor, lawyer, musician, or artist; society encourages its youth to think of life 
as an array of limitless possibilities. This idea is not revolutionary, but for a lot of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, a life of limits is all they have known. Change Inc.'s new impact statement, "Believe in Life Unlimited," strives to challenge and remove those limits and encourage those with disabilities to relentlessly pursue their  dreams.

Jeanne Hannon, a 52-year-old from Hampstead, perfectly embodies the belief in an unlimited life. In May, Jeanne started her own business, The Famous Artist. Since then, she has sold her art at two festivals and made a profit each time. 

"It feels great for myself [to be a business owner]. I am glad I'm doing this," said Jeanne. "I believe in myself."

Click here to read more about Jeanne's story and how Change,Inc is supporting people to Believe in Life Unlimited.
Funding Reimbursement for DDA-Approved Training

The DDA continues its multi-year transformation efforts to align with Employment First values, practices, and systems, including the phase in of new Employment Services Jan. 1, 2020. 

To be an approved provider of Employment Services, staff will need to meet training standards and requirements. Effective July 1, 2018, the DDA is committed to assisting service providers during the transition year leading up to the phase in date by paying for DDA-approved training.

For any staff that a current and approved provider pays for and sends to a DDA-approved training program or certification competency test between July 1, 2018 and Jan. 1, 2020, the DDA will reimburse the provider for the associated fees. 

Click here to read the memo from DDA Deputy Secretary Bernie Simons which outlines the details of this reimbursement. 
DDA Employment First Summit, Oct. 10, 2018

The DDA recently held its annual Employment First Summit to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The day served as an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the last year and hear from stakeholders and partners about their work toward alignment with Employment First values and outcomes.

About 200 people attended the event held in Columbia. Deputy Secretary Bernard Simons started the day with highlights from the last year related to competitive employment outcomes, as well as ongoing capacity building efforts supported by the DDA.

In the morning, the audience heard from Bette Ann Mobley from   Maryland ABLE, who informed the audience about Maryland ABLE accounts and how they could be of value for employed people with disabilities in Maryland. 

National subject matter expert, Rick McAllister, spoke about the importance of the right kind of employer engagement on the part of job seekers and employment agencies.

The afternoon started with the audience hearing directly from Maryland artist/business owner, Mara Clawson, about how her varied services, supports, and partnerships have helped her achieve her identified "good life." Mara highlighted her artwork as well as her business, When Colors Get Along.

Secretary Carol Beatty from the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) presented the DDA with a Governor's Proclamation, recognizing October as Maryland Disability Employment Awareness Month. Secretary Beatty also shared a video called  "EmployAbility." The video was created to raise awareness across the state about the contributions people with disabilities can make to the work place.

Somerset Community Services Executive Director, Sandy Adkins, and Deputy Director, Katie Gell, shared their organization's journey which led to the closure of their sheltered workshop. Sandy and Katie's stories highlighted how strong leadership and values have increased employment outcomes and community participation for the people they are supporting.

The afternoon ended with presentations from the DDA's state-level partners: Christy Stuart of Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Jill Pierce and Sharon Plump of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) and Jade Gingrich of MDOD. Partners highlighted how their agencies are collaborating at the state level to improve support for transitioning youth with disabilities. A video was developed to highlight this inter-agency collaboration. 

The DDA and DORS Take Part in State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) National Conference

The DDA and DORS had the opportunity to send staff to the 2018 SELN national conference held in Alexandria, Virginia.

The annual conference provides the opportunity to hear from other state agencies about Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Vocational Rehabilitation related to their employment services and emerging best practices. Themes included System Capacity Building, Collaboration and Moving Measurement from "In" the Community to "Of" the Community.  

One of the highlights of the conference was an interactive panel facilitated by John Butterworth, SELN project director.  The panel consisted of federal partners, including Johnny Collette, U.S. Department of Education, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Carol Dobak, Acting Director of the State Monitoring and Program Improvement Division (SMPID), Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and Ralph Lollar, Director, Division of Long-Term Services and Supports, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).   

The panelists fielded questions about interpreting federal regulations related to things like Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE), as well as guidance for the proper sequencing of services. The panelists stressed strong collaboration at the state level as one of the best strategies.  All panelists acknowledged that hearing from states is a good tool in better understanding the issues and are open to hearing more in the future. 

The DDA and DORS continue to develop their collaboration, particularly in providing guidance for funding sequencing. 

Left to right: Ralph Lollar, John Butterworth, Johnny Collette, and Carol Dobak
Upcoming Webinar: Promoting Competitive Integrated Employment: What You Can Do

CIE is critical to achieving equal opportunity, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities - and so are you. Join this webinar to learn about ways you can help expand opportunities for CIE in your community, where people with and without disabilities work side-by-side and are paid competitive salaries. Learn how your input can help to develop and implement federal and state policies that advance opportunities for CIE, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule, state Employment First policies, and more. 

This webinar will offer suggestions for engagement and advocacy, including opportunities to educate students with disabilities, their families, and their teachers about CIE and the transition process. An experienced group of panelists will share resources and show you the avenues you can take to improve your state's employment options for people with disabilities. The webinar will also highlight the recently released LEAD Center brief, "Five Ways You Can Help Expand Opportunities for Competitive Integrated Employment in Your Community."

Panelists on this webinar include the following:
  • Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy at the Center for Public Representation. Alison's work focuses on community integration and inclusion, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead, Medicaid, employment, housing, and education. She was an appointed member of the WIOA Advisory Committee.
  • Karen Lee, Executive Director of SEEC (Seeking Equality, Empowerment and  Community for People with Developmental Disabilities). Under her leadership, SEEC continues to create innovative, competitive, and integrated employment opportunities with other supports for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Sharyn Hancock, Disability Resource Coordinator at Workforce Essentials in Clarksville, Tennessee. Sharyn coordinates resources for people with disabilities, supports her workforce system colleagues to promote employment outcomes, and provides services and employment supports. She also supports the Social Security Administration (SSA) Work Incentive benefits planning and career coaching, both of which provide people with disabilities and others with the confidence to return to work or get their first job. She was an appointed member of the WIOA Advisory Committee.
  • Annette Shea, Policy and Program Specialist at The Administration for Community Living (ACL). Annette's work includes promoting employment for people with disabilities. Annette is the lead for ACL's Expanding Employment Opportunities Pillar workgroup and is a Medicaid Buy-In subject matter expert.
The webinar will be held Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. ET.

Want more information about Employment First?

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