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Strategies of Support: Increasing the Capacity of One-Stop Centers to Meet the Needs of Job Seekers with Disabilities

Timmons, J. C., Fesko, S. L., & Cohen, A. (2004). Strategies of support: Increasing the capacity of one-stop centers to meet the needs of job seekers with disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 21:1, 27-37.

Article Summary

With the passage and subsequent initiation of the Workforce Investment Act on July 1, 2000 came the mandate to consolidate training and employment of all individuals, including those with disabilities, into one system. The One-Stop system was designed to improve interagency coordination of employment services within a network that had often been seen as inconsistent, complex, and unresponsive.

As the employment services that have traditionally served individuals with disabilities switch over to the One-Stop system, the level of interagency coordination throughout the USA can vary considerably. Agencies that work with a broader population than just individuals with disabilities have become involved in the employment process as a result of the WIA. As new roles are developed, it is possible that service delivery can be inefficient due either to redundancy or omission of services for individuals with disabilities.

The authors carried out this study to determine best practices as to how One-Stop systems provided employment services to individuals with disabilities as well as increase the level of support during their search for employment. A structured screening process was used to determine those states that were perceived to offer the highest levels of interagency coordination, inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the employment planning process, and increased access to One-Stop Career Centers. They then sought to identify the "movers and shakers" who had been instrumental during the transition from service delivery by state vocational rehabilitation agencies to One-Stop Centers within those states.

The movers and shakers expressed concerns regarding the level of support, during the job search, by employment centers that did not specifically target individuals with disabilities. The following strategies were developed to address these concerns: creation of an ADA coordinator or team, use of security measures to maintain certain information as confidential, assurance of individuals with disabilities and disability professionals serving on local boards, shared responsibility for all employment services, and use of grant funds in innovative ways.

This study was conducted soon after the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act, and the authors suggest that its findings should be considered in the context of a new system which was then, and is now, still in transition. As partnerships form between various vocational agencies serving both individuals with and without disabilities, the collaborative process will be challenged and improve. The authors looked at this process within three states that were perceived as moving in the right direction. The problems they faced and the solutions they developed are food for thought within the context of assisting One-Stop Career Centers in their provision of services for individuals with disabilities.