Federal Movement Seeks to Improve Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

Through the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative, federal agencies are revising regulations and funding new endeavors to increase equal employment opportunities and financial independence for individuals with disabilities.

The Curb Cuts Initiative, which started last October, is a federal cross-agency effort that is especially interested in federal employment of people with disabilities and helping people who receive Social Security disability benefits enter the workforce or return to work.

The initiative includes participation by the Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice and Veterans Affairs Depts., Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Nat’l Council on Disability, Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration.

Summit unveils latest developments

This month, officials from both the initiative and the White House hosted a Summit on Disability and Employment. The summit provided businesses, philanthropies, and disability advocates with information about new and existing federal resources designed to help employers hire more individuals with disabilities, including the new Resource Guide for Employers.

The resource guide identifies relevant federal and federally funded resources for employers looking to recruit, hire, retain and promote people with disabilities. It is designed to answer common questions raised by employers and to identify relevant resources for employers who want additional information on specific topics. The goal of the guide is to help employers implement commonsense solutions to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to obtain and succeed in good jobs and careers.

In addition to the resource guide and summit, other accomplishments by the initiative include SSA’s expanded Ticket-to-Work Call Center, the EEOC’s revised ABC’s of Schedule A for Applicants with Disabilities tutorial and a partnership between OPM and SSA to recruit SSDI beneficiaries into federal careers. The Ticket to Work program supports career development for Social Security disability beneficiaries age 18 through 64 who want to work. The Schedule A tutorial provides tips for applicants to secure federal employment.

Funding program aiding effort

Through the Pathways to Careers: Community Colleges for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities Demonstration Project (CFDA Number: 17.720), DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy is helping community colleges to equip students with disabilities with skills and credentials for high-skill careers. These funds go for demonstration projects to get more youth with disabilities into a job or on a career path. Grantees will test models to improve education and career development services for youth with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities. The initial round of $2 million in funding was offered last summer, with another competition possibly in the works for later this fiscal year.

Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY, and Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, TN, were the first grantees of the program. They are conducting pilot projects to research, develop, test and evaluate innovative strategies for providing inclusive education and career development services to youth with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 24. The aim is to determine what works to help young people with disabilities acquire the skills, degrees and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment so that these effective practices can be shared and replicated throughout the community college system.

Other activities over the next year include: (1) developing a user-friendly portal to connect job seekers with disabilities to employers; (2) expanding and sharing OPM’s screened list of job seekers with disabilities with federal contractors; (3) issuing EEOC’s proposed rules updating its regulations for federal employment under the Rehabilitation Act; (4) training federal contracting officers on disability employment requirements; and (5) ensuring vocational rehabilitation counselors have the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of employers and to promote employment of individuals with disabilities.

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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