Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a commitment of $11.1 million in federal workforce development funding over the next three years to expand the successful network of Disability Resource Coordinators to all 33 local workforce development areas and to better serve individuals with disabilities in New York State Career Centers.
"Now more than ever, it is important we ensure every worker in New York is supported," Governor Hochul said. "An important component to our post-pandemic recovery is to ensure workers of every background have job opportunities. I want New York to be a state of opportunity and hope for people of every walk of life, and that means we must continue to increase support for individuals with disabilities."
Today's announcement, creating the New York Systems Change and Inclusive Opportunities Network (NY SCION), comes during October, which the Governor declared to be Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This expansion builds on past programs supported by the federal Disability Employment Initiative, which has served more than 31,000 individuals since 2010. These grants are designed to increase the quality of our service delivery to adults and youth with disabilities.
As these previous grants come to a close, the New York State Department of Labor will continue its commitment to serve individuals with disabilities across New York State through a new three-year pilot program. Over that time, the state expects to serve an additional 45,000 people.
New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "COVID has opened the door to fundamentally change how we do business at the Department of Labor. We must do it more effectively and efficiently and better meet the needs of all job seekers. Differences should not make you unemployable. We need to raise awareness about the contributions that people with disabilities can make to the workforce and make their employment the norm rather than the exception."
Representative Joe Morelle said, "New Yorkers of all abilities deserve to have access to the quality support and resources they need to lead healthy lives and have fulfilling careers, I'm proud to have helped secure federal funding to protect and expand these critical programs that individuals with disabilities rely on. I'm grateful to Governor Hochul for her commitment to strengthening our workforce, fostering an inclusive community, and ensuring all people have the opportunity to succeed."
Representative Adriano Espaillat said, "I commend Governor Hochul on today's announcement to allocate this federal funding which I helped secure in Congress to further expand disability research and resources throughout the state. I am confident that the increased benefits to persons with disabilities will positively impact my district and communities around the city. As October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, today's commitment reaffirms our support and efforts to ensure disability resources and benefits for individuals in our community who need our support now more than ever."
Previously, about half of the 33 local workforce development areas had direct access to a Disability Resource Coordinator. NY SCION will fund the placement of a Disability Resource Coordinator in every Local Workforce Development Area and several positions in New York City. Their role will be to improve and support employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities and to establish and expand partnerships leveraging resources across multiple service systems. They will train both state and partner staff in best practices to ensure consistent levels of service across the workforce system and in every career center.
Disability Resource Coordinator activities include:
- Increasing the enrollment of youth and adults with disabilities - including Social Security Beneficiaries and Individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities - in the Career Center system via outreach and recruitment activities
- Providing benefits advisement and work incentive counseling to Social Security Beneficiaries in their transition to work
- Promoting the Ticket to Work Program
- Formalizing the Integrated Resource Team approaching their area
- This IRT Resource website was created in New York State under a previous Disability Employment Initiative Project.
- Conducting outreach to businesses
- Placing youth and adults with disabilities in work experiences (i.e., internships, on the job training, summer work experiences, etc.)
- Placement and retention of youth and adults with disabilities in occupational skills training
- Placement and retention of youth and adults with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment
Additionally, activities that have occurred under previous Disability Employment Initiative projects will be scaled and expanded under NY SCION. These activities include:
- Career Expos that include "Meet the Employer" sessions where youth and adults explore career pathways in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and other in-demand industries
- Hiring events where youth and adult participants engage in interviews with business representatives, such as the "Reverse Career Fair" model
- Entrepreneurship, career readiness and financial literacy training and workshops
Key partners supporting NY SCION include the NYS Education Department, NYS Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR), NYS Office of Children and Family Services, NYS Commission for the Blind, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and community and non-profit partners across the state.