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Customized Employment Project: Minnesota

Don Lavin
Vice President
Rise Incorporated
8406 Sunset Road, NE
Spring Lake Park MN 55432
Minnesota project website

The Anoka County Workforce Council, in concert with its local Workforce Center, including public and private community service partners, and local education agencies (LEAs), proposes to plan, develop, and implement a comprehensive adult transition and customized employment model for extended time, high school students, ages 18-21, who have significant disabilities. Our interagency project, entitled Anoka County's Transition & Customized Employment (TCE) Program is designed to increase the job placement success of young adults with significant disabilities who are in transition from school-to-careers in this suburban geographic region of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

The State of Minnesota is well recognized as a national leader in the implementation of WIA, including the integration and coordination of its comprehensive job training and workforce services. Minnesota is also recognized as a leader in the provision of job placement, community rehabilitation, and customized employment for people with disabilities. Despite our proven track record of success, many people with disabilities remain unemployed or underemployed at rates that are unacceptable to us. The purpose of this project is to introduce innovation that will build upon Minnesota's history of success.

The Anoka County Workforce Council believes that its Workforce Service Delivery Area is capable of becoming a national model for the integration and delivery of customized employment services for adults with disabilities. Further, it believes that it can impact systemic changes as well as introduce innovation to serving secondary education students by redirecting transition activities, building on existing public and private agency partnerships, and promoting customized employment outcomes for students with significant disabilities who are enrolled in high schools at seven LEAs serving the Anoka County region.

Our project is designed to address the school-to-career transition, competitive job placement, and wage self-sufficiency needs of young adults who are traditionally unserved or underserved by One-Stop Service Delivery Systems established under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. Our target service populations include students and young adults with developmental disabilities (DD), serious emotional disturbances (SED), emotional/behavioral disorders (EBD), severe cognitive and learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, and other health related barriers to employment.

TCE is an interagency partnership led by the Anoka County Workforce Council. Our primary partners and collaborators include the Anoka County Job Training Center, seven LEAs serving Anoka County, Minnesota Rehabilitation Services (RS), Anoka County's Adult & Disability Services Department, Anoka County Community Transition Interagency Committee (CTIC), Rise Incorporated, PACER Center, ARC Suburban, Employers Association of Minnesota, Southern Anoka County Chamber of Commerce, Anoka-Hennepin Technical College, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and the University of Minnesota's National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. All of these agencies have pledged their participation in support of critical project activities and achieving established outcome objectives.

Our interagency alliance recognizes that policy change and innovation are crucial to achieving better employment outcomes for this target service population. We also recognize the importance of integrating the expertise, resources, and service delivery systems of education and adult services to impact measurable improvements in competitive employment and wage outcomes for this underserved group.

For these reasons, TCE will aggressively: (1)examine and build upon WIA service policies to increase the quantity and improve the quality of job placement outcomes for young adults with disabilities in the competitive labor market; (2) assist LEAs in Anoka County to redirect adult transition outcomes from segregated adult service settings to integrated, competitive employment; (3) increase access to customized employment choices, outcomes, and wages for students who are in transition from school to careers; (4) mobilize the funding, technical expertise, and resource capacities of Anoka County Workforce Center partners and its collaborators to support students with disabilities (and their families) in obtaining competitive employment; (5) formalize customized employment as a permanent, integral service option within Anoka County's One-Stop Service Delivery System; and (6) expand the menu of customized employment to include competitive job placement, micro-enterprise and self-employment strategies, and career ladder advancement opportunities for young adults with significant disabilities from LEAs in the Anoka County area.

TCE will engage proactive, comprehensive transitional rehabilitation services for its target population by engaging customized employment services will be planned by each student with support and consultation from their transition teams comprised of family members, educators, and representatives from the TCE alliance. Specific project outcomes include the following:

  • Seven hundred and fifty students with a wide array of significant disabilities will be served over a five-year period (150 annually);
  • Ninety percent of enrolled students will launch person-centered career plans;
  • Seventy percent of all enrolled students will obtain customized employment outcomes;
  • Twenty percent of all graduating students will obtain post-secondary education outcomes;
  • Fifteen percent will obtain career ladder jobs via employer-driven job training programs;
  • The average hourly wage for all students placed will be $8.00 with an average of 30 hours worked per week;
  • TCE will coordinate disability diagnostic testing for students to increase access to adult transition, customized employment, and integrated community service outcomes;
  • TCE will feature an integrated team staffing model and offer seamless interagency transition leading to increased student job choices, wages, and outcome satisfaction;
  • TCE will document all project management activities, service practices, policy revisions, and project participant outcomes for national dissemination and replication by other WIA One Stop Service Delivery Systems and interagency partnerships.

TCE will feature an interagency project management committee that will meet monthly to address complex educational and adult service systems policies and barriers that interfere with the job placement success of young adults in transition from school to careers. TCE will also feature a business advisory committee that will meet bi-monthly to offer overall policy direction in developing and marketing customized employment strategies to employers in Anoka County. A five-year budget of $3,096,163 is requested from DOL to carry out TCE's interagency project objectives. The Anoka County Job Training Center will serve as fiscal agent for TCE and its interagency alliance.