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Strategies and Practices for Effectively Serving All One-Stop Customers: A Framework for Systems Change
Table of Contents
- Outreach and Marketing
- Registration and Orientation
- Screening and Assessment
- Service Coordination
- Service Delivery
- Employer Marketing and Services
- Capacity Building/Staff Training
- Appendix A - Description of Rules Relating to Disability-Related Information
- Appendix B - Segregation of People with Disabilities
This Guide "Strategies and Practices for Effectively Serving All One-Stop Customers - A Framework for Systems Change" is designed to assist personnel working in One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system respond to the needs of an increasingly complex customer base, including persons with multiple barriers to employment. For purposes of this Guide, the term "persons with multiple barriers to employment" includes populations of individuals who are hard to serve, including displaced homemakers, low-income individuals, Native Americans, individuals with disabilities, older-individuals, ex-offenders, homeless individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals who do not meet the definition of literacy in section 203, individuals facing substantial cultural barriers, migrant and seasonal farm workers, individuals within 2 years of exhausting lifetime eligibility under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act, and single parents (including single pregnant women).
The attached Guide describes universal strategies and specific practices that might be used by One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system to bring about systems change to enhance employment opportunities for all job seekers, including job seekers with multiple barriers to employment. This Guide can also help workforce boards and local workforce systems:
- Assess how responsive they have been to date in meeting the divergent needs of their customers and establish priorities as they develop their system further,
- Develop and revise strategic plans,
- Provide internal staff and partner training, and
- Build partnerships and relationships with community groups.
This Guide reflects the findings of several U. S. Department of Labor initiatives designed to improve employment opportunities for persons with disabilities participating in programs and activities operated by One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system. These DOL initiatives include the Disability Program Navigator Initiative and Work Incentive Grants supported by ETA and the customized employment Grants supported by ODEP. The strategies and practices included in the Guide have been demonstrated to be effective in meeting the needs of customers with disabilities. While originally developed in response to customers with disabilities, these strategies and practices are universal, and may serve as a template for providing meaningful and effective services and supports for all job seekers, particularly those with multiple barriers to employment.
This Guide does not create new legal requirements or change current legal requirements. Instead, it lists examples of strategies and practices that One-Stop centers and other organizations have found to be effective in working with customers with multiple barriers to employment. Some of the legal requirements that apply to One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are contained in the statutes and regulations cited in the text of and footnotes to this Guide. The Guide does not, and is not intended to, include a full list or complete discussion of those legal requirements.
This Guide is divided into eight (8) sections. Each section covers a function or set of related functions performed by One-Stop Centers or other organizations in the workforce investment system (e.g., outreach and marketing; orientation and registration). The introduction to each section briefly mentions any legal requirements related to that function. Citations to the applicable statute(s) or regulation(s) appear in one or more footnotes to each introduction. The citations are hyperlinked, so readers viewing the document on the Web can click on a citation to view the statutory or regulatory text.
The section on each function or set of functions contains several subsections, each of which addresses a general suggestion for carrying out, or a topic related to, the function(s). Each subsection lists specific strategies that One-Stop Centers and other organizations have found successful in carrying out the function or implementing the general suggestion. For example, subsections in Section 2, "Registration and Orientation," include "Offer of General Assistance," "Common Forms," and "Intake Process." The "Offer of General Assistance" subsection describes four specific practices that various organizations have found useful in ensuring that all customers, including those with multiple barriers to employment, are appropriately welcomed to the One-Stop Center or other facility.
A Note About Effective Communication, Confidentiality, and Segregation
The nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by the Civil Rights Center, U.S. Department of Labor (CRC) include specific requirements related to effective communication with everyone who comes into contact with the One-Stop system, including people with disabilities and people whose proficiency in English is limited. These requirements apply to all functions performed by One-Stop Centers or other organizations in the workforce investment system.
Specific examples of practices related to effective communication that have proven successful, and that are generally applicable to all functions, include adopting a broad range of communication strategies that meet the diverse needs of job seekers. For persons with disabilities, these strategies may include examples such as timely access to interpreters, Communications Access Real-time Captioning (CART), or remote captioning services, video relay services, and CAPTEL (which allows people to receive word-for-word captions of their telephone conversations). For people with limited English proficiency, these strategies may include oral language services (interpretation) and written language services (translation). In addition, examples of practices related to effective communication include identifying local community resources (such as local interpreting service providers) and personnel to assist with communicating effectively with customers.
In addition, the CRC regulations include specific rules pertaining to voluntary disclosure, storage, confidentiality and privacy of information concerning disability and segregation of people with disabilities. For a comprehensive overview of the policies relating to what professionals working in the workforce development system can and cannot ask about an individual's disability and what they can and cannot do with that information, see Appendix A to this Guide. For a comprehensive overview of the policies relating to segregation and separation of people with disabilities, see Appendix B to this Guide.
Suggestions for Using This Guide
Set out below are some ideas on how this Guide may be used.
- Use this document in parts or as a whole
This document is designed to cover the entire range of functions carried out by One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system. You may want to focus on specific sections describing particular function areas first before moving on to other sections.
- Use as a tool for self-assessment
The arrangement of this Guide around the common functions of the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system allows you to use this Guide as part of a self-assessment, to make easy point-by-point comparisons with the current strategies and practices used by your system as part of a self-assessment.
- Use these strategies and practices to benefit all customers
Although the strategies and practices included in this Guide were originally developed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, they are not unique to this population. Any job seekers served by the workforce investment system, particularly persons with multiple barriers to employment, can benefit from these universally effective strategies and practices.
- Use in the development and revision of strategic plans
The specific strategies and practices included in this Guide can be used to help guide your thinking about the best course of development for your local strategic plan.
- Use as tool for internal staff and partner training
This Guide is a source of good information for staff training and development, as it provides general strategies and examples of practices for carrying out required functions.
- Use as a tool for building relationships with community groups
Because these strategies and practices speak to the needs of any job seeker, they can assist the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system to build relationships with a wide range of community groups that focus on specific barriers to employment.
- Use for systems change
As a foundation for serving a wide range of job seekers, this Guide can be used to educate stakeholders in the necessary movement toward systems change.
Outreach and Marketing
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA and nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to conduct outreach and marketing. The outreach and marketing requirement is intended to accomplish a number of goals, including ensuring that members of various populations that are frequently underserved (such as people who face multiple barriers to employment) are made aware of the services and supports provided by the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system.
This section of the Guide identifies specific strategies and practices relating to outreach and marketing that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful in reaching the divergent population that these organizations serve. These outreach and marketing examples include strategies and practices relating to:
- Consulting with community groups,
- Engaging in general and targeted marketing, and
- Making presentations to the public.
Consulting with Community Groups
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system (other workforce organizations) have reported success in satisfying part of the outreach function by using the universal strategy of working closely with community groups, such as civic organizations, advocacy groups, faith-based and community-based entities, and neighborhood associations. This collaboration has helped both the One-Stop Centers and other workforce organizations and the community groups to promote employment opportunities for their diverse customer bases. Specific examples of consultation practices that have proved successful include:
- Actively creating and maintaining relationships with a broad range of community organizations and agencies. These relationships enable staff of the One-Stop Centers/ other workforce organizations to use the programs offered by the community organizations and agencies as resources in developing employment options for job seekers with multiple barriers to employment. Conversely, staff of the community organizations and agencies are able to call on staff of the One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations for information and expertise.
- Educating community groups about services - including individualized and specialized services and supports - that are available through the One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations for the members, customers, or constituents of the community groups.
- Asking community groups to encourage their members, customers, and constituents to take advantage of the services offered by the One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations in the workforce investment system.
- Conducting tours of One-Stop Centers or service provider facilities, in partnership with community organizations, to help job seekers from those organizations and their family members become familiar with the facilities and the services offered there.
- Encouraging staff from community organizations to use the resources of the One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations in job development activities for the people with whom the community organizations work.
- Recruiting non-affiliated individuals from the diverse population groups that make up the local community, as well as representatives from the organizations in the community, to offer their input on policy decisions about One-Stop Center programs and activities. In some cases, this recruitment process may result in having these individuals or representatives serve on local and state workforce boards.
Engaging in General and Targeted Marketing
One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations have recognized the importance of using marketing strategies to inform the general public and potential customers about their commitment to welcome and provide individualized/customized services and supports to all job seekers seeking assistance, including those with multiple barriers to employment. Specific examples of practices related to engaging in general and targeted marketing that have proved successful include:
- Mentioning in marketing and recruitment materials (as well as other materials describing the programs and activities that the One-Stops/other workforce organizations offer) that people of diverse backgrounds and physical, mental/cognitive, and sensory disabilities are eligible for services. Including positive images of such diverse individuals in the materials.
- Specifically and overtly communicating the One-Stops/other workforce organizations' commitment not only to serve, but also to hire, persons from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and persons with disabilities.
- Advertising through a broad range of media sources, including media targeted toward people with various ethnic and racial backgrounds, people with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, people of varying ages, and members of other groups.
- Notifying particular personnel within schools that serve various specific populations about openings in the organization's programs or activities as well as providing the school personnel with general information about those programs and activities.
- Ensuring that all of the organization's materials, including its website, provide directions to the organization's facilities, programs, or activities via public transportation or information about other transportation options for customers who do not drive.
- Ensuring that wherever the organization provides a phone number for contact via voice telephone, it also includes at least one alternative contact number for reaching that same person or office via TTY, TDD, and/or relay service.
Making Presentations to the Public
One universal strategy often used by One-Stop Centers/other workforce organizations for getting the word out about the availability of job-related services and supports for all customers, including customers with multiple barriers to employment, is to make presentations to members of the community (such as Chambers of Commerce, civic groups, public forums, and other similar contexts). Specific examples of successful practices related to presentations to the public include:
- When conducting outreach, recruiting qualified speakers of diverse backgrounds (including persons with disabilities) to present or co-present to entities in the community about the programs and activities offered by One-Stop/other workforce organizations.
- As part of such general presentations, explaining that people with multiple barriers to employment and people with unique needs, including those with disabilities, are encouraged to take advantage of the general programs and activities offered by the One-Stop/other workforce organizations. These explanations include the information that people with specific barriers to employment may also be entitled to specialized services and supports. For example, people with disabilities may be eligible for reasonable accommodations/modifications or auxiliary aids and services for communication. People with limited English proficiency may receive communication assistance, such as interpretation services or translation of materials.
- Holding off-site presentations to the general public in locations that are accessible to and usable by all prospective customers, including individuals with disabilities and those who do not drive.
- Offering presentations in appropriate languages other than English.
Registration and Orientation
Under programmatic regulations issued by ETA, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to provide intake and registration services as well as orientation to the information, services and supports that are available. The nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC include rules designed to ensure that the registration and orientation processes are open to all customers, including those in protected categories. These regulations also require that during orientations, customers and others, including members of the public, must be given information about their rights under the laws relating to nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.
The intake/registration and orientation functions and the legal requirements related to the functions are designed to ensure that everyone who enters the facilities of the One-Stop Centers or other organizations in the workforce investment system feels welcome, is informed about the array of services and supports that are available, and understands how he/she can take advantage of these services and supports. This section identifies specific strategies and practices relating to intake/registration and orientation that other One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful and successful. These examples include registration and orientation practices relating to:
- Offering general assistance,
- Using common forms, and
- Using an intake process that ensures an informed choice.
Offering General Assistance
One universal strategy that multiple One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful is the Offer of General Assistance. Under this strategy, when a member of the public enters the facilities of the One-Stop Centers or other organization in the workforce investment system, he or she is given general information about the array of services that are available and about how he or she may receive those services and supports. Specific examples of practices that have proven successful and that are consistent with the legal requirements related to voluntary disclosure and confidentiality (See Appendix A) include:
- Asking all registrants whether they need help with filling out forms or other aspects of the application or registration process.
- If a customer needs assistance filling out registration or intake forms, offering the customer the opportunity to receive the assistance one-on-one in a private room, where the job seeker's responses will not be overheard (i.e., in order to respect and preserve confidentiality).
- Offering a general packet of information to all new customers that includes information on core and intensive services and specialized services, such as customized employment. The packet should also inform customers that people of all abilities are welcome and that individual customers may receive specialized services and supports to help them participate effectively in the One-Stop Center's programs and activities.
- If the One-Stop Center has specific programs for customers with disabilities, providing information about these programs to all customers so an individual customer does not have to disclose the fact that he or she has a disability in order to learn about these programs.
- Ensuring that the information described in paragraphs (3) and (4) is offered in the languages other than English that are used by a significant number or proportion of the population served by your Center or organization.
Using Common Forms
Another universal strategy that has proven effective is to design the general intake process for all new customers, including application and intake forms, in a way that avoids the duplication of effort by customers who might benefit from multiple services within the One-Stop Center, while at the same time satisfying the rules regarding voluntary disclosure, confidentiality and privacy. Specific examples of practices related to common forms that have proven successful include:
- Using a common intake form for all new customers by the various partners within the One-Stop system - such as programs authorized under title I of WIA (serving, for example, dislocated workers and Veterans' workforce programs, programs authorized under the Wagner-Peyser Act, adult education and literacy programs authorized under title II of WIA), and programs authorized under parts A and B of title I of the Rehabilitation Act.
- Developing a universal release of information form that explains the individuals and partners to which the One-Stop or other organization in the workforce investment system may wish to disclose personal information about the customer and the reasons why such disclosure may be appropriate, and permits the customer to specify the personal information s/he will permit to be disclosed and the particular individuals and partners that may receive the information.
- Where legal and appropriate, sharing pertinent customer information among One-Stop partners.
Using an Intake Process that Ensures Informed Choice
A universal strategy that helps ensure that individual customers are able to make informed choices, and to take full advantage of the services and supports provided by the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system is to provide detailed information about those services and supports during the intake process. Examples of successful intake processes include an orientation to the layout of the One-Stop Center, a discussion of the Center's various services, and coverage of issues such as transportation availability, service hours, and building rules. Specific examples of successful practices related to using an intake process include:
- Training reception and service staff about specific ways of being courteous and welcoming to customers who may have special needs, such as older customers, customers with visible disabilities, or customers who have limited English proficiency.
- Offering a guided tour of the facility as part of the standard orientation to services, highlighting the modifications/assistance/accommodations that are available for customers who may have special needs.
- Providing information during general orientation sessions about the types of individualized assistance/accommodations that are available.
- Providing all customers with information regarding additional services for which they may be eligible (such as services for persons with disabilities or persons with limited English proficiency or opportunities for learning about and addressing non-apparent employment challenges) and how they can apply for and receive such services and supports.
- Establishing an internal mechanism, consistent with legal requirements, for staff to identify customers who may be eligible for or need specialized services.
- Giving all applicants an information packet that includes a description of disability disclosure rights, considerations, and obligations by the Center; why staff ask medical or disability-related questions; and what staff may and may not do with the information. The packet also includes explanations of why an individual may not want to disclose the information (e.g., fear of prejudicial decisions) and why disclosure may be beneficial (e.g., entitlement to reasonable accommodations/modifications or auxiliary aids and services).
- Providing the "Equal Opportunity is the Law" Notice to all customers, in appropriate languages as well as in alternate formats for people with varying types of disabilities.
Screening and Assessment
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to provide each customer seeking services and supports with an initial assessment of his or her skill levels, aptitudes, abilities, and supportive services needs. This initial assessment may include the opportunity for the customer to be screened for non-apparent barriers to successful employment, and, if such a screening indicates that a non-apparent barrier may be present, to undergo a diagnostic assessment. Whether or not the customer chooses to undergo such screening, it may be useful for the customer to be referred for a formal vocational assessment.
The screening and assessment functions must be performed in a manner that is consistent with the nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC. For example, One-Stop Centers and other workforce organizations must make sure that customers with disabilities are not referred to separate, "special" staff or training providers for screening or assessment unless certain criteria are met. One-Stop Centers and other workforce organizations must also follow the rules governing disability-related inquiries and voluntary disclosure, confidentiality and privacy of information concerning disabilities, such as the obligation to inform each customer about his or rights relating to all these topics. In addition, customers with disabilities must be provided with reasonable accommodations and modifications for the screening and assessment processes.
The screening and assessment functions are intended to increase the likelihood that the individual customer receives necessary and appropriate services and supports that will enable him/her to achieve successful employment outcomes. Information received through this process can be very helpful to the customer in developing an employment plan. This section identifies specific examples of strategies and practices relating to screening and assessment that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful and successful. These examples include strategies and practices relating to:
- Screening (Identification of possible non-apparent challenges and barriers to employment),
- Career development, exploration, and planning, and
- Formal Assessment.
Screening (Identification of Possible Non-Apparent Challenges and Barriers to Employment)
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have reported success in offering customers the opportunities to be screened for unique needs or non-apparent challenges and barriers to employment, such as illiteracy, limited English proficiency, learning disabilities, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This screening process is intended to enhance the employment outcomes of these customers (for example, to determine whether and which reasonable accommodations would help customers with disabilities benefit from a training program) and not as a way of identifying customers to whom services will be denied or who will be automatically referred elsewhere. Screening for non-apparent disabilities or medical conditions must not be offered to or performed for customers who are only seeking job referral services or by staff who are performing services similar to those performed by employment agencies.
Screening cannot by itself be used to diagnose whether a customer has a particular barrier to employment, such as a disability. Its suggested use is only to determine whether a customer is likely to have one or more non-apparent barriers to employment, including particular disabilities. If screening results indicate the possible presence of a disability or other barrier, the customer should be referred for a formal assessment, such as a diagnostic assessment. To be accurate and meaningful, such an assessment must be conducted by a professional practitioner with expertise to the particular barrier being identified. [See a discussion of "diagnostic assessment" later in this section.]
Before using screening tools, it is a good practice for One-Stop Center or provider staff to inform the customers of the purpose of the tool and the possible positive and negative consequences, so that the customer can decide whether or not to proceed. In addition, if the screening tool is designed to identify possible disabilities, One-Stop Center or provider staff must provide the customer with the information required by law before the customer answers any questions.29 This process is called obtaining the customer's informed consent.
Note: Think of screening for a possible non-apparent barrier to employment not as a single event or tool, but as a process. It can occur more than once and at any point during the customer's participation in the program, from intake on. Because some customers may be sensitive about disabilities and other challenges or potential challenges to employment, the screening process is more likely to identify such challenges if staff have built a relationship of trust with a customer.
Specific examples of practices related to screening that have proven successful include:
- Asking all customers who are seeking services other than job referral about possible employment barriers, such as low literacy skills, homelessness, skill gaps, etc. If these questions indicate that a customer may have such barriers, the One-Stop Center or other organization has a process in place to offer the customer further screening in order to understand the basis for these barriers and to help determine which interventions, if any, would best assist the customer to overcome the barriers and achieve employment success.
- Using a process to offer screening to persons who are seeking services other than job referral and who exhibit manifestations of a possible disability that has not yet been diagnosed.
- Making available appropriate resources to assist customers who are identified as potentially having non-apparent challenges or barriers to employment based on the screening process.
- Identifying clear steps that staff should take to refer customers for further formal/diagnostic assessment.
- Identifying clear steps that staff should take to provide customers with assistance documenting the existence of possible non-apparent challenges or barriers (such as a disability) for the purposes of determining eligibility for other services and/or for identifying appropriate accommodations.
- Training staff members so that they are knowledgeable about which funds may be used for formal assessment for diagnosing disabilities, such as VR, TANF, and/or Medicaid funds. Staff is also provided training about how to access these funds and coordinate the process of referral for diagnostic assessment.
- Training staff so that they are knowledgeable about the information that must be given to a customer before asking questions that may lead to disclosure of information about disability, and about the process of obtaining customers' informed consent before referring them for diagnostic assessment or further assessment of strengths and abilities.
To be responsive to employer demands and facilitate a good job fit between job seeker and job, as well as to help identify job seekers who might benefit from a customized employment approach to employment, the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system may want to adopt an array of universal strategies at the core and intensive levels of service to help all job seekers identify their skills and interests for the purposes of employment planning. Specific examples of practices related to career development, exploration, and planning that have proven successful include:
- Using interactive software programs in the resource room that allow customers with various learning styles to reflect on the many aspects of their lives that affect employment, especially their strengths, needs, and interests. The software incorporates the results in a narrative profile that captures critical information describing the job seeker, including his or her life complexities. Using the resulting profile to assist in further job seeker exploration and planning. Providing staff assistance, as needed, to job seeker customers using this software.
- Using existing peer groups of job seekers (such as job clubs, friendship groups, or groups of laid-off workers) to help customers to identify their strengths, interests, and preferences.
- Developing plans for employment based on One-Stop customers' individual strengths, needs, and interests (rather than focusing solely on a customer's deficits), since for job seekers with disabilities it is often the case that traditional job readiness evaluations are more accurate in identifying deficits rather than strengths.
- Using the strategy of positive, capacity-based exploration to facilitate strengths, interests, and skills identification for customers with barriers to employment who need such assistance. Exploring all facets of the individual's life results in the identification of a more expansive range of skills and competencies. Spending more time with job seekers, both in and beyond the One-Stop Center, to gain sufficient insight and information for possible customization of employment.
- Identifying a lead staff member to compile document a narrative profile report that captures the findings of the skill/interest exploration process. Developing an outline structure for the narrative profile document that includes areas of job seeker's strengths, needs, and interests, as well as their life complexities that might need to be accommodated, negotiated, or supported.
- Getting to know customers in various contexts to help with the assessment process. For example, having staff members spend time with job seekers in a variety of settings such as the One-Stop, home, community, and school, as appropriate. Using different techniques (such as structured interviews, informal conversations, life observations, records review, and/or employment profile development) to assist job seekers in their interest and skill exploration.
- Making available a variety of strategies to the customer for career exploration, including informational interviews, job shadowing opportunities, short-term job tryouts, group discovery classes, and education regarding barriers to employment and its impact on benefits, life routines, and responsibilities.
- Adjusting One-Stop staff schedules to allow for time during the week to assist customers with barriers to employment through the career exploration process by helping them examine all facets of their lives that might provide information about strengths, needs, and interests as they relate to employment. This is done in a positive way that emphasizes the personal abilities of job seekers rather than their limitations.
A variety of formal assessment tools may be used with customers to help them define their vocational strengths and interests. Such assessments are used to supplement, not supplant information obtained during a career exploration process. The formal assessment tools used by trained/qualified personnel should focus on competence and performance needs rather than deficits. As explained in the introduction to the screening and assessment function, to be accurate and meaningful, such an assessment must be conducted by a professional practitioner with expertise to the particular barrier being identified. Specific examples of practices related to formal assessment that have proven successful include:
- Ensuring the opportunity for customers to receive a comprehensive assessment conducted by qualified personnel using both in-house resources and referrals to community organizations. Have available a listing of potential assessment resources with corresponding funding sources that could pay for these services.
- Using an assessment process that facilitates the identification of customers in need of more intensive and/or customized services and supports. Staff members receive training on how to access these services.
- Providing assessment instruments in other languages for individuals with limited English proficiency.
- Selecting and administering tests based on their effectiveness in measuring a job seeker's ability to successfully participate in a program rather than measuring deficits. Assessment policies explicitly state that reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications must be provided to persons with disabilities who request them for the testing process.
- Creating opportunities to identify potential accommodation or support needs (e.g., a customer sits in on a class of interest being offered by a training provider). These observations for potential need are used for planning purposes and not for the purpose of restricting the customer's access to that or any other training provider.
- Allowing staff members to use sufficient flexibility to use a variety of assessment tools, approaches, and strategies for assessment and exploration of individual strengths and abilities, and select those that are most appropriate for the specific job seeker.
- Allowing staff, where legal and appropriate, to use data that was previously collected about a particular customer, rather than asking customers repeatedly for the same information.
- Using a broad range of mandated and non-mandated partners, based on the individual customer's needs, to participate in the interest and skills assessment process and for the subsequent use of the information obtained.
The workforce investment system is designed to permit different entities responsible for administering separate human resource programs and funding streams (the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the system) to collaborate with one another. Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, this collaboration among mandated partners is designed to create a seamless system of service delivery that will make services easier and more cost-effective to use, and will also improve long-term employment outcomes for customers receiving assistance. At the same time, these collaborations must not result in a system in which customers with particular barriers (such as disability or limited English proficiency) are automatically referred to separate, "special" programs, staff, offices, or providers, without an individualized determination of the customer's needs. Such automatic referral constitutes unlawful segregation.
This section identifies specific examples of strategies and practices relating to service coordination that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful and successful. These examples include service coordination strategies and practices relating to:
- Operational collaboration among mandatory partners and other agencies, and
- Joint staff planning.
Operational Collaboration Among Mandatory Partners and Other Agencies
One-Stop mandatory partners and other agencies report that they have been successful when they share responsibility for coordinating and providing financial assistance for the provision of the employment and support services needed to help individual customers achieve their employment objective and the provision of financial assistance for such services. Specific examples of practices related to operational collaboration that have proved successful include:
- Taking steps to improve the development of comprehensive policies and infrastructures that enhance cooperation and general operational collaboration among mandatory partners and other agencies and programs. Examples of such practices include:
- Establishing partnerships and linkages between agencies or organizations that offer complementary services.
- Entering into memoranda of understanding or other types of agreements with such agencies or organizations. The agreements may deal with such subjects as agreements to accept customer referrals from one another, or providing cross-training for staff of both agencies and organizations.
- These types of relationships can improve the ability of One-Stop Centers and other organizations to effectively meet the individual needs of customers in areas such as:
- Common intake and sharing of data
- Outreach and marketing to potential customers
- Service delivery
- Access to accommodations and assistive technology
- Performance measures
- Collecting outcome data
- Coordinating between mandatory partner agencies and other agencies to provide resources (both funding and in-kind resources) for individual customers in ways that allow each partner/agency to use its resources more efficiently. For instance, for a customer with significant disabilities that affect his or her ability to work, WIA Title I staff may provide outreach and connection to the employer, Title I of the Rehabilitation Act (Vocational Rehabilitation) funds may pay for on-the job training and support, and TANF funds may be used to help with childcare.
- Collaborating between mandatory partners and organizations that can help provide "support services" (such as health care, housing, benefits counseling, and transportation) that customers may have while they seek and achieve employment.
- Maintaining a list of local resources designed to assist individuals with barriers to employment (e.g., agencies providing interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency and persons who are deaf), and making that information available to both staff and customers. This information should be regularly updated.
- Informing job seekers about programs or activities for which they may be eligible that are offered by One-Stop mandated partners and non-mandated partners.
Joint Staff Planning at the System and Individual Levels
Various partners and entities within One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system participate in joint planning to enhance program effectiveness and efficiency at the system's level as well as at the level of the individual. At the system's level, joint planning of resources, for example, among multiple agencies can help ensure a seamless experience for the customer and an efficient use of resources for the agencies. At the individual level, job seekers need to be actively included in planning efforts and to be given the information necessary to make informed decisions about the services available from multiple agencies and the disclosure of personal information to the partners engaged in the planning and service delivery process.
Specific examples of practices related to joint staff planning at the systems level that have proved successful include:
- Convene a working group of mandated and non-mandated partners such as VR, mental Health, Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, TANF, and Medicaid to address systemic barriers to joint service provision and co-funding of activities.
- Making the local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project for persons with disabilities a part of the team service coordination process, as needed. WIPA counselors can help customers with disabilities consider how getting a job will affect any disability benefits they may receive. The counselors can also train staff of the One-Stop or other workforce organizations about these benefits issues.
- If there are different approaches to case management being used by One-Stop partner agencies, communicating and collaborating between partners agencies to avoid duplication of effort.
- Having members of a customer's planning team attend staff meetings of team members from other partners, to help all team members develop a better understanding of each partner's resources and restrictions.
- Considering a broad range of entities (including nontraditional partner agencies) for participation in the process of career exploration and obtaining employment for each job seeker. Developing and implementing a process to reach out to additional entities as customers' needs dictate.
- Designating a coordinator or facilitator of the planning process.
Specific examples of practices related to joint staff planning at the individual level that have proved successful include:
- Creating a team of people from the job seeker's professional and personal (friends and family) networks to be a part of joint employment planning and service delivery.
- When appropriate, including in the planning team mandated and non-mandated partners such as VR, mental Health, Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, TANF, and Medicaid, for purposes of identifying potential funding options.
- Actively involving the job seeker in all elements of planning. As appropriate, the job seeker is given the opportunity to take a lead role in the process.
- Developing plans for employment based on One-Stop customers' individual strengths, needs, and interests. When appropriate, plans for customers with disabilities include recommendations of accommodations, including assistive technology that may help the customer carry out the functions of a particular job, or participate in a particular program or activity.
- Helping all members of a customer's employment planning team ensure a stable, seamless experience by identifying and reducing typical "handoff" points in the One-Stop.
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to provide core, intensive, training, and support services. In addition, the nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC oblige these entities to take steps to include members of various protected populations in the services provided, including the obligation to ensure that programs, projects, and activities are administered in the most integrated setting appropriate. This section identifies specific examples of service delivery strategies and practices that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful in reaching the divergent population served by such entities, including individuals with multiple barriers to employment. These examples include service delivery strategies and practices relating to:
- Eligibility and general treatment,
- Funding services (core, intensive, and training),
- Maintaining a provider network (adequacy and payment),
- Core Services, and
- Intensive and Training Services.
Eligibility and General Treatment
The One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system offer an array of services to job seekers. In order to ensure that individual job seekers are not arbitrarily denied a meaningful opportunity to take advantage of a particular service, One-Stop Centers and other organizations take steps to eliminate the barriers (such as eligibility criteria) within a Center's existing menu of services. In addition, these entities endeavor to meet the individual needs of customers by expanding the services and supports on the menu.
Specific examples of practices related to eligibility and general treatment that have proven successful include:
- Working with all partners, the One-Stop operator establishes an "expectation of success" attitude regarding customers with significant barriers to employment. This attitude includes a commitment by all partners to serve such customers alongside other customers to the extent appropriate to the needs of the customers (providing appropriate supports such as reasonable accommodations), instead of automatically referring these customers to another specialized service agency (e.g., an agency that exclusively serves veterans, persons with disabilities, and individuals with a history of incarceration).
- Using clearly documented criteria and processes for referral to internal partners and community agencies, to make sure referrals are not used for segregating particular populations.
- Reviewing eligibility criteria for training and other programs to eliminate criteria that unnecessarily screen out persons with multiple barriers to employment, such as individuals with disabilities. For example, requiring a driver's license as a form of identification even where the training program does not involve driving, will unnecessarily screen out people whose disabilities prevent them from obtaining drivers' licenses.
- Eliminating unnecessary barriers (i.e., criteria that are not necessary to provide a service or training offered) from the selection process for training programs, such as certain type of prerequisite exams that measure the effects of an individual's disabilities, rather than his or her knowledge, skills, or abilities.
- Making alternative tests and assessments available.
- Organizing and documenting a process for selecting participants for Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) and auxiliary projects (e.g., grants, limited community resources) to make sure that the same process is used for all customers.
- Making staff roles flexible enough to allow employees of One-Stop Centers to individualize the way they provide services in response to customers' needs.
- To the extent a One-Stop Center makes available particular services (e.g., education and training opportunities, labor market information, job listing and job search assistance, resume and cover letter preparation), the One-Stop Center staff provides appropriate assistance and support services so that customers can effectively benefit from such services in the most integrated setting appropriate.
- Reviewing all programs and activities that provide separate or different services for certain categories of job seekers (such as individuals with disabilities) to ensure that such separate or different services are administered in compliance with legal requirements, and that the ultimate decision whether to participate in the segregated program or activity is left up to the customer. For example, a customer with a disability that imposes a significant impediment to employment could elect not to receive vocational rehabilitation services through the State VR agency, even though he or she was eligible for these services.
- Referring qualified customers with significant barriers to employment, including various diverse customers, to the same employers and placing them in the same positions available as other qualified job seekers.
- Rejecting all job orders from any employer that will not accept applications from protected categories of qualified persons (e.g., on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, or disability).
Another universal strategy used by One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system to streamline service delivery for customers is to bring together all of the various funding resources that might be available to pay for employment services for a particular customer, and allowing the customer to control these funds. Specific examples of strategies for funding that have proven successful include:
- Exploring and using a range of funding sources that both includes mandated partners and goes beyond mandated partners (e.g., Individual Development Accounts and employer contributions).
- Conducting meetings of mandated and non-mandated partners to identify potential funding options, including both general resources available to all clients and specific program funds that are targeted specifically for certain groups.
- Providing training for staff about work incentive resources that might be available to their various customers. This training may include information about the policies that apply when accessing and sharing funding from various agencies and examples of shared "blended" or "braided" funds and other resources.
- Using individualized resource mapping - a process of identifying what types of funding and resources are available to a particular job seeker - to find potential funding or support services.
- Giving customers ownership of their employment searches by using individual budgets, personal accounts, or other means of "drawing down" funds to customer-controlled accounts.
Provider Network (Adequacy and Payment)
The selection of qualified service providers and giving them appropriate training is a universal strategy that has proven successful in ensuring that job seekers (including individuals with multiple barriers to employment) receive services and supports that meet their needs. One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system must also consider the consequences of adopting a particular scheme for paying service providers. A particular scheme that reimburses all providers the same amount regardless of the number of barriers to employment that are faced by the individual job seekers they serve may have the unintended effect of discouraging providers from serving such customers with multiple barriers. Specific examples of practices related to provider networks that have proven successful include:
- Adopting a mechanism for the One-Stop Center and other workforce organizations to contract with service providers for a wide range of individualized services, such as customized employment, to respond to customer needs. This mechanism includes a clear set of qualifications for the providers that will supply each type of service.
- Carefully structuring the mechanism for contracting with service providers so that members of protected groups, such as customers with disabilities, are only referred to "specialized" providers if the applicable legal requirements are met.
- Recruiting traditional and nontraditional organizations that provide services within the local community to register and qualify as individualized/intensive employment services providers.
- Arranging for an adequate supply of available providers (including specialized providers) that have the requisite knowledge and experience to address the needs of individuals with significant barriers to employment and other diverse populations.
- Giving specific training and technical assistance sessions to provider network staff regarding effective strategies to help customers obtain employment, such as customized employment.
- Developing and using a payment mechanism that rewards providers that serve customers with particular barriers to employment by taking into consideration the additional costs of providing the specialized services and supports these customers need. For example, service providers that serve customers with disabilities may receive additional monies to reimburse the providers for all or part of the cost of providing reasonable accommodations, reasonable modifications, or specific auxiliary aids and services that a particular customer with a disability needs. In developing this mechanism, various fees and methods of payment (e.g., milestones, flat rate, outcome-based) are considered.
- Involving job seekers in selecting the specific providers that will supply their services. Some One-Stop Centers and related organizations require job seekers to certify satisfactory completion of services before the provider receives payment for the services.
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are using universal strategies to ensure meaningful access to these core services, including core services typically provided on a self-service basis. All customers receive information and training about their rights under WIA, including equal opportunity/nondiscrimination. Specific examples of practices related to core services that have proved successful include:
- Conducting an assessment of the resource library, job seeker workshops, and other core services to ensure that information and materials are presented in a way that recognizes the full range of communication and learning styles of all customers while ensuring confidentiality and privacy.
- Training staff members to proactively offer assistance to clients who appear to be having difficulty using services (i.e., providing appropriate assistance to customers who need it to access core, self-directed services, including assistance using computers and other forms of technology).
- Designing services so that customers who are not knowledgeable about, comfortable with, or able to use electronic technology (e.g., computers) can also fully benefit from One-Stop services by securing necessary information through other means.
- Using multi-modal presentation strategies (e.g., verbal, visual, role-play) in all workshops, which would benefit a variety of learning styles.
- Ensuring that all videos and DVDs used by the One-Stop Centers are captioned (either with open or closed-captioning) both in English and languages other than English.
- Providing clear information, in several languages and formats that explain how each computer workstation can be customized to meet individual user needs. This information includes such items as images of computer graphics and picture icons to help people with limited reading skills. The information also includes instructions for using any assistive technology installed on the machine.
- Including images of computer graphics and picture icons in written instructions for computer programs and functions.
- Collaborating with other local organizations to assist job seekers who are eligible for other federal or state programs, including benefit programs such as Social Security disability insurance programs.
- Making available private space for self-directed services for customers who have difficulty paying attention or focusing if background noise is present.
- Making available to all customers workshops on interviewing and self-representation skills, including the ability to negotiate certain features of the job.
- Providing resume-writing workshops that include the option of alternative tools, such as portfolios, for job seekers to use (instead of or in additional to traditional resumes) when representing themselves to employers.
Intensive and Training Services
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are using universal strategies to ensure meaningful opportunity to benefit from intensive and training services. Specific examples of strategies related to intensive and training services that have proved successful include:
- Employment Planning,
- Personal Marketing and Representation Skills,
- Job Representation and Negotiation, and
- Training Services.
Under the employment planning strategy, staff members develop individualized plans for employment that identify each customer's conditions for an ideal job and take into account the person's preferences, interests, and potential contributions. Specific examples of practices related to employment planning that have proven successful include:
- Developing an employment plan that emphasizes what the individual customer can do to support his or her own job search. Customers are given significant responsibility for the action steps resulting from the planning process. These action steps take advantage of the customers' strengths.
- Identifying potential tasks to be performed in an employment setting as part of this planning process.
- As part of the planning, an employer contact list is developed. Strategies for connecting with the listed employers through personal and professional networks are included in the contact list.
- Scheduling planning meetings that include the customer, team members, family, friends, and selected staff in the process of specifying the strengths, needs, and interests of the customer in the development of a customized job.
Personal Marketing and Representation Skills
The staffs of the One-Stop Centers and other organizations develop materials and provide training to help customers find employment in job settings that suit their individual situations and represent themselves to employers. Specific examples of practices related to personal marketing and representation skills that have proved successful include:
- Helping job seekers to create high-quality materials, which might include presentational portfolios for employers, resumes, letters of recommendations, and referrals.
- Providing training (including role-playing opportunities) to job seekers on strategies for representing themselves with an employer, including in such areas as negotiation skills and elements of the job or work expectations.
- Offering customers with disabilities training that enable them to make informed choices regarding whether or not to disclose their disability to an employer.
Job Representation and Negotiation
Many customers may choose to represent themselves in the hiring process. For customers who choose not to represent themselves in the hiring process, One-Stop Centers and other organizations' staffs offer them representation and negotiation supports. This decision is made as a piece of the above-referenced planning process. Representation will likely include the capacity to negotiate employment positions to better fit the abilities of the individual job seeker while still answering an essential need of the employer. Specific examples of practices related to job representation and negotiation that have proved successful include:
- Providing job seekers training that enables them to make informed choices regarding whether to represent themselves in the employment application process or to be represented by staff.
- Making One-Stop system case managers and job developers aware of the range of approaches in job development, including creating employment positions for specific job seekers through negotiation.
- Notifying all customers that if asked to do so, staff will work with them on an individual basis to decide whether they should disclose confidential information (e.g., disability, history of incarceration) to an employer, and will also conduct the disclosure on a particular customer's behalf upon request.
- Helping customers decide whether to disclose confidential information. This process includes a discussion of the information the customer is considering disclosing, the pros and cons of disclosure, and, if disclosure is chosen, the way in which the information would most effectively be presented.
- Staff identify areas for negotiation for a particular customer with a particular employer that are based on both individual contributions and employer needs.
In order to ensure that the staffs of the One-Stop Center and other organizations make available effective training services to all customers, including those customers with multiple barriers to employment, another universal strategy is to eliminate nonessential enrollment policies that would limit the availability of these services to such customers. As appropriate, funding resources from partner agencies are used to support the customer's involvement in a training program. Specific examples of practices related to training services that have proved successful include:
- Developing policies that make Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) more flexible so that they can be used for more creative training options and a wide variety of training providers, including agencies that provide individualized employment supports.
- Providing staff with sufficient flexibility in determining whether, with accommodations, an individual is eligible for a training program.
- Allowing staff to recruit training providers for possible inclusion on the State's or local area's list of eligible providers, and to assist providers in applying for eligibility.
- Identifying common training vendors across mandatory partner programs to allow for joint funding.
- Offering training on self-employment and micro-enterprises for customers who are interested in developing their own small businesses.
- Identifying national and local self-employment resources for small business development.
Employer Marketing and Services
In ETA's view, a key goal of WIA Title I is to provide a workforce investment system that is demand-driven and responsive to the needs of all employers, including small employers. In order to accomplish this goal, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system must establish a relationship with the local business community. Many, if not most, One-Stop Centers and other organizations use a business service team to establish and maintain such relationships.
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system report that they have achieved success when their business service teams use a variety of approaches to ensure a good fit for both employers and job seekers. Ideally, employers routinely use the One-Stop system to publicize job openings, conduct competitive interviews, and get training for potential applicants. In developing relationships with employers, the staff need to follow the legal requirements related to job seeker confidentiality and privacy, and inform job seekers about their rights relating to and the pros and cons of disclosing personal information.
Specific examples of successful practices related to employer marketing and services used by One-Stop Centers and other organizations include:
- Working on employer relationship development through the recognition of employer needs and being responsive to these needs without a specific population in mind.
- Working with employers to
- Identify and address challenges/unmet needs in their workplace, and
- Help address these challenges through job creation.
- Working with employers and employer groups (such as the Chamber of Commerce) to understand the value of flexibility and otherwise customizing employment in recruiting and retention of a diverse workforce and its usefulness as a tool to maximize productivity. Offering customized training resources for employers in the specific skills needed by employees.
- Dividing the business services team by industry in order to allow staff members to develop greater expertise in negotiating and networking in their specific industry sectors.
- Marketing to employers through a universal process that includes all One-Stop partners rather than via individual partner programs.
- Work with employers to learn about their unmet needs and challenges in order to identify areas in which the needs of the employer and candidates for employment can be matched or otherwise customized through negotiation. Identifying employer needs so that staff can help the employer better meet their operational demands.
- Identifying candidates with skill sets to perform specific tasks for employers rather than exclusively responding to work orders.
Capacity Building/Staff Training
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA and the non-discrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to conduct capacity building and staff training to ensure that the goals of the new workforce investment system are achieved. Staff members also need ongoing training to continually develop their skills and to have updated information about how to directly serve job seekers with complex needs, as well as how to work with partner agencies to meet the employment needs of these job seekers as well as employer. Specific examples of practices related to capacity building/staff training that have proven successful include:
- Training staff members about the range of service delivery options available to job seekers with multiple barriers to employment, and about how to help these job seekers determine their best employment options.
- Conducting cross-training (by and for persons in various roles such as State VR agency counselors, job service personnel, job training staff, local disability providers, etc.) to promote relationship-building between various partner agencies in areas such as job search techniques, job development and employer negotiation, and job support strategies related to individualized employment services.
- Including in manuals, guidelines, and other materials used by staff (and used to train staff) examples of specialized services and supports for customers with multiple barriers to employment.
- Training staff to use nontraditional assessment strategies that maintain a focus on customer strengths. [See Section 3, Screening and Assessment]
- Training staff members about when and how to lawfully and appropriately screen job seeker customers for non-apparent challenges and barriers to employment so that those customers may receive suitable services and supports and may be connected with other resources for further assessment, if appropriate.
- Ensuring that all staff members interact, whenever possible, with a wide variety of customer groups, rather than being "siloed" to a given population.
- Establishing a process for an individual partner to identify the training needs of One-Stop staff and the training needs of other partners.
- Training specific personnel to coordinate planning teams for customers with more significant needs.
- Ensuring that partner agencies provide their staff with training about serving customers with particular barriers to employment, such as disability or limited English proficiency.
- Ensuring that partner agencies contribute resources (staff and dollars) to continuing training of staff operating One-Stop centers.
- Ensuring that staff performance evaluations include requirements that staff have participated in training on effectively serving customers with particular barriers to employment.
- Training staff about all applicable civil rights protections, including (but not limited to) the rules relating to disclosure, confidentiality, and privacy of information.
- Training staff about how to procure and use various types of equipment and materials for assisting customers with unique needs such as people with disabilities. Examples of such equipment and materials includes telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY/TDD), accessible workstations, materials in alternative formats or languages other than English, etc. Providing ongoing training about such equipment and materials, and ensuring that they are used.
- Training staff on communicating effectively with individuals with limited English proficiency and resources for interpretation and translation services.
- Training staff in emergency evacuation procedures, including the evacuation of persons with varying types of impairments.
This section identifies examples of effective strategies relating to the operation and management of One-Stop Centers and partners, including:
- Site selection and transportation,
- Strategic planning,
- Selecting a management team,
- Data collection,
- Developing performance measures for outcomes and customer satisfaction,
- Ensuring continuous quality improvement,
- Complaint and grievance resolution, and
- Certification, monitoring, and compliance.
Site Selection and Transportation
Under the regulations issued by CRC, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to follow specific rules regarding site selection and transportation to help ensure that their services are available to all potential customers. Decisions are made regarding the site selection for the local One-Stop Center that enable all customers to reach the facility with ease, and that do not exclude any specific categories of customers. The site selection process focuses on convenience within the community, availability of various types of transportation, and safety. Specific examples of practices related to site selection and transportation that have proven successful include:
- Involving members of the broader community such as public and private transportation agencies, and faith-based and community organizations (working with new immigrants, older workers, and individuals who were formerly incarcerated).
- If the service delivery area is not served by public transportation, taking steps to make all One-Stop programs and activities available to customers who do not drive. These steps may include providing information about alternative transportation options and resources or offering programs and activities in satellite locations such as shopping malls or other public facilities.
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, the local workforce investment board is required to undertake strategic planning. In developing the strategic plan, the board takes into consideration the needs of the local community, including individuals with multiple barriers to employment, particularly when designing the delivery of programs and activities provided by One-Stop Centers and other organizations. Specific examples of practice related to strategic planning that have proven successful include:
- Articulating a clear vision and mission.
- Providing the opportunity for representatives of diverse populations to inform the One- Stop Center of their communities' needs by participating in strategic planning, One-Stop Center charter reviews, and similar processes.
- Adopting measurable goals and objectives for employment outcomes for customers with multiple barriers to employment.
- Incorporating in the plan's stated goals and objectives an individualized approach to service delivery through the One-Stop that incorporates strategies such as customized employment.
- Reviewing on a periodic basis the local service plan for serving customers with limited English proficiency.
- Making One-Stop management and staff aware of the requirements of the following two sets of plans. The policies, practices, and procedures adopted by the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system follow the specifications and requirements set out in these plans.
- The State and local workforce investment board (SWIB and LWIB) plans on how to address the employment needs of customers with multiple barriers to employment, and
- The State's Methods of Administration (MOA) plan for achieving nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.
Selecting a Management Team
A multiple-partner management team for One-Stop Centers and partners is convened for planning purposes and to ensure that there is a clear definition of partner roles. For One-Stop Centers with a single agency management structure, planning teams that include relevant partners can serve this purpose. Specific examples of practices related to selection of a management team that have proven successful include:
- Organizing the management team to include members of all critical mandated and non-mandated partner agencies who are authorized to make decisions for those agencies.
- Clearly defining and outlining management roles and functions in writing.
- Ensuring that the management team meets regularly to discuss and decide on critical policy, resource, procedure, and priority issues, including issues related to serving customers in various underserved populations.
- Ensuring that the management team has measurable goals and objectives in the area of employment of persons with significant barriers to employment.
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA and non-discrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to collect specific data about customers at various points of the service process, and to maintain and store that data in specific ways. Specific examples of practices related to data collection that have proven successful include:
- Collecting data that tracks job seeker satisfaction and meets the objectives of collaborating partners and other entities providing financial assistance.
- Analyzing demographic data to determine the frequency with which various diverse populations are able to move from core to intensive to training services to ensure nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in access to each of these service tiers.
- Reviewing records to determine whether various diverse populations participated in programs and activities in a meaningful and effective fashion.
- Ensuring that management information systems comply with legal requirements relating to storage and confidentiality of information, including information concerning disability.
Developing Performance Measures for Outcomes and Customer Satisfaction
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to negotiate and adopt outcome performance measures, including measures of consumer satisfaction. The LWIB negotiates outcome performance measures that properly account for services to persons with significant barriers to employment. The One-Stop Center and other organizations capture other data concerning the success of individualized services provided to these customers. This data can include customer satisfaction as well as the relationship of outcomes to an individualized employment plan. The One-Stop Center and other organizations include this data as part of the information provided to SWIBs, LWIBs, policymakers, and entities providing financial assistance. Specific examples of practices related to outcome performance measures and consumer satisfaction that have proven successful include:
- To the extent that customer satisfaction surveys are used, separating out the data regarding the satisfaction of customers with multiple barriers to employment from the overall data to ensure that the satisfaction of these populations is specifically measured and taken into consideration.
- Eliciting customer satisfaction and other feedback in a variety of ways to allow all customers the opportunity to provide it (e.g., verbal, written, electronic, via voice telephone and relay of TTY/TDD).
- Within customer satisfaction efforts, establishing policies that allow for the collection of information on the degree to which the jobs obtained for participants match their employment plans.
- Using forms for customer and partner feedback that specifically ask about issues of customers experience in using the range of One-Stop services.
- Using forms for customer and partner feedback that specifically ask about whether services are effective and provide meaningful benefit.
Ensuring Continuous Quality Improvement
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, local workforce investment boards, through operation of One Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system, are required to engage in continuous quality improvement. This function must be carried out consistent with the nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC.88 The One-Stop Center and other organizations embrace the concept of continuous quality improvement, including the strategy of disaggregating the data relating to specific groups, analyzing this information and integrating lessons learned into current practice. Specific examples of practices related to continuous quality improvement that have proven successful include:
- Regularly engaging in a "secret shopper" who accesses the center as a new user wanting to receive services and making improvements based on the feedback the "secret shopper" provides.
- Where a particular customer with significant barriers to competitive employment is not progressing, adopting policies to help determine whether that lack of progress is connected to a lack of individualized or other appropriate services, or a lack of such supports as needed/appropriate accommodations.
Complaint and Grievance Resolution
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA and non-discrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to adopt procedures for resolving discrimination complaints and grievances related to program-related issues, such as the quality of services. The One-Stop Center and other organizations adopt procedures for grievances/complaints about the quality of services (program-related grievances) and discriminatory treatment of customers of diverse populations (discrimination complaints). In order to comply with these requirements, One-Stop Centers and other organizations must adopt the following strategies:
- Informing all customers about the policies and procedures for filing program grievances and discrimination complaints. The contact information for the person(s) with whom such complaints and grievances may be filed, including voice and TTY/TDD or relay service phone number(s) and email address(es), is given to each new customer in a variety of formats.
- Developing and publishing writing policies setting forth the resolution procedures for program-related grievances and discrimination complaints. These policies should be made available in appropriate languages for non-English speaking customers and individuals with various types of impairments, such as visual and cognitive impairments.
- Keeping logs of complaints alleging discrimination. There are written policies in place to ensure that these logs are kept secure in a confidential fashion. [See Appendix A]
Certification, Monitoring, and Compliance
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA and the non-discrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC, SWIBs, Regional Workforce Investment Boards (RWIBs), and LWIBs are required to monitor their subrecipients, such as One-Stop Centers, Center operators, contractors, and other organizations in the workforce investment system. They are also required to ensure compliance by these subrecipients with the provisions of WIA Title I, including Section 188 and the applicable implementing regulations. In addition, each One-Stop Center and other organization in the workforce investment system is required to monitor and ensure compliance with the applicable legal requirements by any entities that receive financial assistance from or through the Center or organization, including its partner agencies and service providers. Specific examples of practices related to certification, monitoring, and compliance that have proved successful include:
- Adopting certification and re-certification standards for One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system that include specific requirements concerning universal and customized strategies for persons with multiple barriers to employment.
- Ensuring that staff members are aware of and follow the specifications and requirements contained in the SWIB and LWIB strategic plans and the State's Methods of Administration plan.
- Designing monitoring instruments that include specific inquiries relating to:
- The provision of aid, benefits, services, and training for targeted populations, including customers with multiple barriers to employment, and
- Compliance with the requirements of Section 188 of WIA and the implementing regulations.
- Recruiting a team comprised of local stakeholders, including diverse community members, to assess One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system across the array of issues related to effective and meaningful access and use. The One-Stop Center or other organization then implements constructive recommendations that will help improve problem areas and achieve compliance.
- Using remedies to address violations that include prospective relief (such as training and policy development/revision) to ensure that service providers come into compliance with all applicable laws.
Description of Rules Relating to Disability-Related Information
Before asking any questions, in any context, that may lead to disclosure of medical or disability-related information, staff of One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system must provide customers, applicants, and employees with specific information concerning disclosure of disability, and confidentiality and privacy with respect to such disclosure. The individual must be given the following information:
- Providing any medical or disability-related information is voluntary;
- The information will be kept confidential as required by law;
- Refusal to provide the requested information will not subject the individual to any adverse treatment; and
- The information will only be used for legally specified purposes.
Under the WIA nondiscrimination regulations, your One-Stop Center or workforce investment organization is required to ask every person who falls into one or more of a specific list of categories to provide four pieces of demographic data, including disability status. The categories include applicants, registrants, eligible applicants/registrants, participants, terminees, applicants for employment, and employees. Although you must ask for this data, the individual is not required to provide it. (If the individual indicates that s/he does have a disability, s/he is not required to provide documentation of that disability, unless s/he is applying for a program or activity for which disability is an eligibility criterion.) Of course, before asking for this data, your staff must provide the four pieces of information listed above.
The question of whether it is legal to ask other medical or disability-related questions in a particular situation turns on whether your One-Stop Center or workforce investment organization is providing general services, providing employment-related training, or acting as an "employment agency." In the general services context, you have broad latitude to ask disability-related questions. By contrast, in the employment context, the law strictly limits the questions you are permitted to ask, as described below.
General services context: you have broad latitude to ask questions
When you are providing general services (such as assessing a customer's skills, prior work experience, or employability; creating a service strategy for a customer; or providing supportive services such as child care or transportation), you will need to understand whether a customer has a disability that serves as a barrier preventing him or her from achieving full employment success. Therefore, in the context of providing these types of services, disability-related inquiries are not only legal - they are recommended. You may ask a broad range of questions about whether the customer has a disability or medical condition that s/he knows about and that may affect his or her employment success. In the services context, you may also - with the customer's permission - administer screening tools designed to detect symptoms indicating the possible presence of a non-apparent disability, or refer a customer who appears to have such symptoms for a disability-related assessment or evaluation.
When are you operating in the employment context?
The legal requirements that apply in the employment context will come into play when your One-Stop Center or workforce investment organization is either providing employment-related training or acting as an "employment agency" under the law.
Employment-related training is broadly defined in the WIA nondiscrimination regulations as "training that allows or enables an individual to obtain employment." This type of training has a direct relationship with preparing a job seeker for a specific job, job-related skill, or career. CRC interprets the term as including such types of training as occupational skills training, on the job training and job readiness training. Other types of training, such as basic educational skills training and English as a Second Language training, must be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific contents of the particular training course; however, because the regulatory definition of "employment-related training" is so broad, the safest course is to assume that all these types of training are "employment-related," and to limit the disability-related questions that are asked.
A One-Stop Center or workforce investment organization is considered to be functioning as an "employment agency" when it regularly has as a principal function procuring employees for at least one employer, or procuring work opportunities for job seeker customers.
What questions are you permitted to ask in the employment context?
In the context of providing employment-related training or acting as an employment agency, it is generally illegal to ask disability-related questions (other than requesting demographic data as described above) before a customer is selected to receive training or to be referred for a job. This stage of working with a customer is known as the pre-offer stage. Different standards apply to the post-offer stage and the post-hire/selection stage.
In the pre-offer stage, if you are a staff member of a One-Stop Center or other workforce investment organization who is screening applicants for employers or deciding whether to refer a particular job-seeker for a particular job, you may ask about an applicant's ability to perform specific job functions. For example, you may state the physical requirements of a job (such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, or the ability to climb ladders), and ask if an applicant can satisfy these requirements. You may also ask applicants to describe or demonstrate how they would perform job tasks, if the same questions are asked of all applicants. You may also describe what the application process will involve and ask whether the job-seeker will need accommodations for the application process. If the job-seeker says yes, and the need for accommodation is not obvious, you may ask for reasonable documentation of a disability before you provide accommodations.
You may not, however, ask a job-seeker whether s/he will need reasonable accommodations to perform the essential functions of the job, except under the following limited circumstances:
- the job-seeker has an obvious disability, and you reasonably believe that the applicant will need reasonable accommodation because of that obvious disability;
- the job-seeker has voluntarily disclosed to you that s/he has a hidden disability, and you reasonably believe that the applicant will need reasonable accommodation because of that hidden disability; or
- the job-seeker has voluntarily disclosed to you that s/he needs reasonable accommodation to perform the job.
In these limited circumstances, although you may ask questions about the accommodations the job-seeker will need, you may not ask questions about the underlying medical condition.
Detailed information about what you may and may not ask during the pre-offer stage is available in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance entitled "Preemployment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations" (October 10, 1995) ("Preemployment Questions Guidance"), available at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/preemp.html.
After the customer has been offered the opportunity to receive employment-related training or to be referred to a particular job, staff of the One-Stop Center or workforce investment organization may ask disability-related questions and require medical exams, even if they are unrelated to the job or training, as long as two conditions are met:
- All entering trainees/employees in the same category must be subjected to the same questions/exams, regardless of disability; and
- All information obtained through these questions/exams must be kept confidential, as described below.
More information about the post-offer stage is available in the EEOC's Preemployment Questions Guidance at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/preemp.html.
If a One-Stop is providing both general services and the above types of employment-related services, clear firewalls should be instituted between the staff who work with employers and the staff who provide services to job seekers, to ensure that the staff who work with employers do not inappropriately receive information about a particular job seeker's disability status.
After a particular individual has begun work or employment-related training, the employer or training provider may make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations only if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. This requirement is met when the employer or training provider has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that: (1) the ability of the person with a disability to perform essential job functions (in the employment context) or meet the essential eligibility requirements (in the context of employment-related training) will be impaired by a medical condition; or (2) an employee or applicant for employment will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition.
"Direct threat," under the WIA nondiscrimination regulations, is limited to the employment context. It includes only employees or applicants for employment who are currently using alcohol, or who have a currently contagious disease or infection. The alcohol use or contagious condition must constitute a significant risk of substantial harm that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. Direct threat determinations must be based on an individualized assessment of the individual's present ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job, considering a reasonable medical judgment relying on the most current medical knowledge and/or best available objective evidence. To determine whether a particular person with a disability poses a direct threat, the following factors should be considered:
- the duration of the risk;
- the nature and severity of the potential harm;
- the likelihood that potential harm will occur; and
- the imminence of the potential harm.
Disability-related inquiries and medical examinations that follow up on a request for reasonable accommodation when the disability or need for accommodation is not known or obvious also may be job-related and consistent with business necessity. In addition, periodic medical examinations and other monitoring under specific circumstances may be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Detailed information about what you may and may not ask during the post-hire/selection stage is available in the EEOC Enforcement Guidance entitled "Disability-Related Inquiries And Medical Examinations Of Employees Under The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)" (July 27, 2000) ("Post-Employment Questions Guidance"), available at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/guidance-inquiries.html.
Disclosure of a customer's disability status
Confidentiality of medical and disability-related information about customers, applicants, and employees is paramount!
The WIA nondiscrimination regulations prohibit disclosure of a customer's, applicant's, or employee's medical information or disability status, except to certain specifically-listed persons or entities or in specific situations.
You may disclose this information to the following persons or entities under the circumstances described below.
Supervisors, managers, or trainers:
This category includes only supervisors, managers, or trainers at your own One-Stop Center or in your own workforce investment organization – not those working for an employer who may have hired, or may be interested in hiring, a customer with a disability.
You may disclose that a particular person has a disability or other medical condition to supervisors, managers, or trainers only where necessary to explain accommodations being provided to, or restrictions placed on, the person with a disability.
First aid and safety personnel:
First aid and safety personnel may be informed that a particular person has a disability or other medical condition only if the disability or medical condition may require:
- emergency medical treatment, or
- special assistance during an evacuation or other similar emergency.
Selecting officials may obtain medical or disability-related information about an applicant with a disability only in the post-offer stage described above.
Government officials investigating compliance with Federal law must be provided information, including medical or disability-related information, upon request.
In general, a One-Stop Center or other workforce investment organization is prohibited from disclosing disability-related or other medical information about a particular job-seeker to an employer.
Such disclosure may occur only where all of the following circumstances are satisfied:
- The job-seeker has made an independent decision to disclose such information to the employer,
- The job-seeker has specifically asked the One-Stop Center or its staff to make the disclosure on his or her behalf, and
- The latter request has been initiated by the job-seeker, not by the One-Stop Center.
Storage of medical and disability-related information. This information must be:
- Kept in separate files (apart from all other information about a customer, applicant, or employee)
- Stored securely, with limited access
- Electronic files: password-protected
- Hard files: kept locked
Segregation of People with Disabilities
This Appendix explains the history of, and the reasons underlying current legal requirements relating to, segregation of (providing separate services for) people with disabilities. The Appendix also provides a brief description of the legal requirements.
A Change in Attitude
In the past, the general societal view of people with disabilities was that they were "defective," and therefore should be kept segregated from "normal" people. Congress explicitly acknowledged this unfortunate history in the "Statement of Findings" for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):
[H]istorically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem...[I]ndividuals with disabilities continually encounter various forms of discrimination, including outright intentional exclusion...[and] segregation.
42 U.S.C. § 12101(a)(2), (5).
In more recent years, as exemplified by the above quotation, both Congress and the Executive Branch have recognized that unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities is a serious form of discrimination. This attitudinal shift is reflected in the WIA nondiscrimination regulations, which preclude recipients of Federal financial assistance under WIA from providing "different, segregated, or separate aid, benefits, services, or training" to people with disabilities, or to any group(s) of people with disabilities, except under certain very specific circumstances. Instead, the regulations place upon recipients the specific obligation to administer programs and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of people with disabilities.
Even where the law permits a recipient to provide separate programs or activities for people with disabilities, the recipient is not permitted to insist that qualified people with disabilities receive aid, benefits, services, or training through these separate programs or activities, or to automatically refer people with disabilities to the separate programs or activities. Rather, recipients must give people with disabilities the option of participating in the same programs or activities that are offered to people without disabilities.
When Is Segregation Permissible?
Section 188 and the WIA nondiscrimination regulations require that people with disabilities be given aid, benefits, services, training, or employment alongside (not segregated from) people without disabilities, except under the following circumstances.
In order to justify providing separate programs or activities to all customers with disabilities, to particular classes or groups of customers with disabilities, or to individual customers with disabilities, a recipient has the burden of demonstrating that:
- the segregation is necessary in order to provide those customers with disabilities with programs or activities that are as effective as those provided to customers without disabilities (see below);
- the separate program or activity is in fact as effective as the programs or activities provided to customers without disabilities;
- an individualized assessment is performed before referring a particular customer with a disability to the segregated program or activity; and
- the ultimate decision whether to participate in the segregated program or activity is left up to the customer. If the customer is qualified for, and wishes to participate in, the "regular," non-segregated programs or activities, he or she is permitted to do so.
When Is Segregation "Necessary"?
The WIA nondiscrimination regulations explicitly state that in deciding whether segregation of customers with disabilities is "necessary," you must consider the needs of the customers - not those of your One-Stop Center or other workforce investment organization. The paragraph at issue, 29 CFR 37.7(a)(4), states that it is unlawful to provide "different, segregated, or separate" aid, benefits, services, or training to people with disabilities unless doing so is necessary "in order to provide customers with disabilities with programs or activities that are as effective as those provided to customers without disabilities."
The "necessity" requirement is not satisfied simply because the facility where the aid, benefits, services or training is provided is inaccessible. The Department of Labor's regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, provide that lack of compliance with accessibility requirements is not a lawful justification for discrimination against persons with disabilities. Therefore, by definition, a lack of accessibility cannot make segregated services "necessary."
The fact that serving customers with disabilities in an integrated setting may be expensive or inconvenient also does not make segregated services "necessary." The House of Representatives Report on the ADA underscores this point, explicitly stating, "The fact that it is more convenient administratively or fiscally, to provide services in a segregated manner, does not constitute a valid justification for separate or different services." H.R.Rep. No. 101-485 (1990), reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 473.
Examples of Unlawful Segregation
Examples of circumstances in which segregation of customers with disabilities is unlawful:
- When the recipient has a policy or practice, whether formal or informal, of referring all customers with disabilities (or all customers with a particular type of disability) to a particular program, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, or a separate, "special" service provider.
- When the recipient permits individual staff members to make such across-the-board referrals.
- When the recipient automatically places customers with particular disabilities in, or refers them to, employment in sheltered workshops rather than competitive, integrated work environments.