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Capitol Correspondence - 11.28.23

DOL Expands Opportunities for People with Disabilities in 12 States and D.C.

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In a significant step towards fostering inclusive employment, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has announced the selection of 12 states and the District of Columbia as a new project of “core states” for the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative in Federal fiscal year 2024. This initiative aims to enhance competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities by providing consulting, capacity-building support, and ongoing mentoring to government agencies. ANCOR was part of the original cohort of associations that launched the project in 2000.

The 12 states chosen to participate in the NEON initiative are California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee, along with the District of Columbia. This selection reinforces the commitment to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities across diverse geographical regions.

The NEON initiative builds upon existing partnerships between the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and six state intermediary organizations that joined in fiscal year 2023. These organizations play a vital role in addressing key issues at the national, state, and local levels, influencing the ability of state governments to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams emphasized the importance of these selections, stating, “With the selection of 12 states and the District of Columbia as ‘core states’ and the continued partnership with state intermediary organizations, we can continue to accelerate needed policy change and make competitive integrated employment a reality for more disabled people.”

The ongoing collaboration with six state intermediary organizations is a crucial aspect of the NEON initiative. These organizations, including ANCOR, the Association of People Supporting Employment First, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, the National Association of Medicaid Directors, and others, contribute their expertise to address challenges at various levels, ensuring a comprehensive approach to advancing competitive integrated employment.