Supported Employment – An ANCOR Prediction of Shifts and TrendsBy Esme Grant Grewal, ANCOR Vice President of Government Relations Throughout 2018 I shared with ANCOR members that I predicted some significant shifts in the arena of employment for people with disabilities. A number of things brought me to this conclusion. We heard from Republican and Democratic leaders on the Hill that they were looking to end the Fair Labor Standards Act’s 14(c) subminimum wage program for people with disabilities while the National Council on Disability in October echoed that sentiment with a formal report. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration was focusing on Medicaid work requirement policies for people without disabilities, they were simultaneously praising Medicaid work programs for people with disabilities, and the Department of Labor was seeking in general the improvement of workforce results for Americans with disabilities with some key speeches on the topic by the Secretary himself. With all of this build up, 2019 looks to be a possible change making year for employment of people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which dramatically changed our infrastructure and culture, still has a lot to do in terms of its impact on employment for people with disabilities. But this could be the year we head firmly in the direction of transformation. In addition to the clearly directed policy changes and discussions, there has been tremendous creativity to ensure that people with disabilities can work. Transportation is a key barrier to employment and ANCOR has been a leading intellectual and developmental disability voice in support of self-driving vehicle legislation and regulation (we have even asked the car manufacturers in our coalition to assist with reimbursement of self-driving vehicles in the future). Also on the transportation front, we have been following the progress of disability-related car sharing apps to assist folks get to where they need to be in accessible vehicles. We know that community funding is key to programs that enable individuals to have the opportunity to work, so ANCOR has led Money Follows the Person reauthorization discussions and now is engaging in new exciting legislative discussions around the Balancing Incentive Program. We have also had discussions with the Administration about the HCBS Settings Rule and how employment of people with disabilities can be used as a good gauge of the rule’s success. ANCOR has always been cognizant of the challenges for people with the most significant disabilities to access work and so in line with our work on improved employment outcomes, we work hard to establish that service funding is always preserved for individuals with the goal, but perhaps not always the result, of competitive integrated employment. It seems like 2019 has geared up to address employment of people with disabilities in a variety of ways and we are excited to join with Foothold and be a part of these important conversations and the ultimate change that will occur. Learn more about Foothold’s partnership with ANCOR here.
Foothold Technology was proud to partner with American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) on a recent webinar discussing the state of supported employment. Esme Grant Grewal, Vice President of Government Relations at ANCOR wrote this blog providing additional thoughts for the year ahead.
Focus on the Center for Humanistic Change of New JerseyStaff at Foothold Technology are always hungry to hear stories about how AWARDS, our electronic record for human services agencies, is supporting agencies in meeting their goals. More importantly, and definitely more satisfying, is when we get the opportunity to support agencies creating and managing innovative programs that are changing people’s lives. Located in northern New Jersey and serving adults with developmental disabilities in Sussex, Warren, Morris, and Passaic Counties, one member of the Foothold Technology community, Center for Humanistic Change of New Jersey, Inc. (CHCNJ), is serving up some supported employment programs we find quite delicious. Focusing on the Needs of the Individual Through Supported Employment In the early 1980s, CHCNJ was a relatively small, residential program serving individuals with developmental disabilities. It operated three group homes and gradually expanded to provide additional services and supports within its northern New Jersey community. But in the early 1990s, a shift occurred within the agency, and in some ways, within the sector as a whole. As Paul S. Kucinski, Associate Executive Director, described it, “As New Jersey began closing down ‘The Edison Project,’ we were asked to serve four individuals needing assistance. We knew, based on history and the desires of those individuals, that traditional Day Programs that existed at the time would not suffice. So, we welcomed these individuals into our residential program and started providing new Day Hab services.” Since the onset, CHCNJ has operated under a philosophy and belief that everyone has the right to be an active, productive member of the community. As Day Hab services and supports expanded, the agency also expanded its philosophy to shine a light on the fact that all individuals have the right to live and work, as active, visible, productive members of the community. CHCNJ continued to partner with employers in the community and thus provided more individuals with the opportunity to work with a job coach one-on-one. It’s a model that continues today and as Mr. Kucinski described it, “rather quickly, through this experience, we asked ourselves, ‘let’s see what we can do to open something on our own!’” And in 1993, Cones By Design was born. Cones By Design, A Unique Approach to Supported Employment Open seven days a week, Cones By Design, is an ice cream store serving seasonal flavors and custom-made ice cream cakes year round. Cones By Design is not just a store. For staff and volunteers, it’s a place to learn new skills, socialize with others, and a place where individuals with developmental disabilities can work as an active, visible, productive member of the community. By breaking up tasks throughout the store, individuals have the opportunity to learn as many skills as possible. “Many individuals that work at Cones By Design see this as a place to work forever. Others learn skills and can take those skills to other places,” said Mr. Kucinski. The innovative model born out of Cones By Design, in some ways, served as a recipe for success when CHCNJ established the Re-Designs Thrift Shoppe. Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2017, Re-Designs is a similar partnership of enterprise and CHCNJ, which provides employment opportunities and skills development to individuals with developmental disabilities, not to mention great shopping opportunities for the entire community. Managing and Addressing Change In recent years, as New Jersey transitioned to a Fee-For-Service model, like many providers in the state, CHCNJ had to find new ways to document services and supports in adherence with the new guidelines. During the transition, staff at Foothold helped the agency assess workflows, and in terms of documenting services and supports, helped the agency think through changes. In some cases, this meant thinking about what it meant to separate pre-vocational and career planning services from supported employment. “With the transition to Fee-For-Service, our agency needed to track supported employment, small group activities, and some Day Hab programs in new ways to meet the new requirements,” said Mr. Kucinski. “Foothold staff were an invaluable resource for us and continue to be a great partner.”
“Foothold staff were an invaluable resource for us and continue to be a great partner.”Today, across the entire agency and across all programs, all notes are documented in AWARDS, all Individual Service Plans (ISPs) are tracked in AWARDS, and CHCNJ staff access information daily to check goals and objectives. “Because our documentation is tied to BillingBuilder, it also allows us to track and bill for services with ease,” adds Mr. Kucinski. As a vendor partner, Foothold Technology is proud to support agencies like CHCNJ. Through innovate employment programs like Cones By Design and Re-Designs, we applaud the focus on programs that provide individuals with the skills, tools, and opportunities needed to ensure each individual’s right and need for community integration can be fully recognized and achieved. More About CHCNJ In addition to its innovative employment programs, CHCNJ also runs residential programs in 12 small-settings group homes and one supervised apartment dwelling. The agency provides services and supports to individuals ranging from age 22 to those in their mid-80s. The agency provides several Day Hab programs and a wide array of services and supports in the community. The agency has been a Foothold Technology customer since 2014.