Connections - 07.01.24

What’s Happening with ANCOR’s Grants?

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While we were working on the Community Life Engagement grant (profiled in the February edition of Connections) ANCOR was also involved in the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) project at the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The NEON project collaborates with National Provider Organizations (NPOs) to increase Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) for the people they serve through provider transformation.

This project provided training and technical assistance from employment specialists and subject matter experts (SMEs) on employment and people with disabilities.  

ANCOR was selected as one of five NPOs on the project which offered free training and technical assistance (TA) to interested state associations. Over the three years of the grant, this project has supported our associations in Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Nebraska, and now Maryland.   

Each association completed a self-assessment and strategic plan to inform how best to deploy the resources into the field. Some states identified specific providers looking to make a transition from subminimum wage and/or segregated employment to Competitive Integrated Employment services.

Other states chose to use their resources more broadly with training and TA for all interested members. To date, these providers are experiencing positive steps forward in their work toward fully integrated opportunities for people served. 

During the first three years of the grant, ANCOR chose to use its training and TA hours to bring members webinars on CIE and meaningful day activities. This year, we have decided to use our allotted resources to create a Community of Practice for Frontline Supervisors in employment services.

Data shows that this cohort of employment personnel experiences a high rate of turnover, so we decided to create an opportunity for interested staff to build a network of support amongst themselves. Participants will be supported with SME training and resources and are expected to test those resources and strategies then come back to the Community of Practice to share what they have learned, what has worked, and how they can replicate and bring to scale the most effective strategies they trialed.

This program is not a webinar series! It is a hands-on initiative aimed at getting useable tools into the toolbox of employment specialists so they can grow their programs and lean on a network of like-minded colleagues when they struggle or face opposition.

Over the course of the six-month community of practice, the participants will explore topics such as Building a Culture that Supports Retention, Using Data to Inform Operations and Outcomes, and Moving Staff from Caretaker to Facilitator Roles, to name a few.   

At ANCOR we see the writing on the wall: we anticipate a Final Rule from the Department of Labor that will likely have some impact on the 14c program. We are also tracking the “Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act” in Congress (find the Senate bill here, and the House bill here) where its bipartisan support increases the likelihood of its passage. We want to be sure our members have the tools and training to position themselves for these potential changes in the day and employment services landscape across our sector.

While we advocate for thoughtful transition and the funding necessary to support providers to make these changes, we recognize change is upon us and are working to ensure our members are equipped to meet the future! 

Donna Martin is the Vice President of State Partnerships & Innovation at ANCOR.