This week President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which will make significant changes to the United States’ workforce development programs for individuals with and without disabilities. Unless otherwise noted, most provisions of the bill go into effect July 1, 2015.
There are several key provisions to be aware of that will have an impact on the way in which work training is provided to individuals with disabilities, including:
· The Vocational Rehabilitation VR agencies (Department of Rehabilitation in California), will be required to spend at least 15% of their budgets on pre-employment transition services for individuals getting ready to leave the school system.
· No later than September 20, 2014 a federal advisory committee must be established to focus on increasing competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.
· The goal of services provided by VR agencies is now competitive integrated employment.
· VR agencies can provide services with an anticipated outcome of customized employment “for an individual with a significant disability, that is based on an individualized determination of the strengths, needs, and interests of the individual with a significant disability.”
· There is clarification that group supported employment paying less than competitively is available on a short-term basis.
· As of July 22, 2016 the use of 14(c) subminimum wage certificates for individuals under the age of 24 will be limited to (click the link for the specific legislative language on this):
o Individuals already earning subminimum wage as of 7/22/16; OR
o Those who have completed available transition services available through education; AND
§ Have received career counseling and employment referrals, including for services designed to secure jobs not compensated at subminimum wage; AND
§ Have been referred to VR agency and found ineligible OR
§ Have been referred to the VR agency and found eligible AND
· The individual has an Individualized Plan for Employment;
· The individual has been working toward an employment outcome with appropriate supports and services, including supported employment services, for a reasonable period of time without success; AND
· The individual’s VR case is now closed
· The VR Agency must work more actively with American Job Centers (formerly “One-Stops”) to provide vocational services to individuals with disabilities. The American Job Centers will be annually evaluated to determine their degree of physical and programmatic accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
For further reference, a summary of the bill prepared by the Association for People Supporting Employment First (APSE) can be accessed by clicking here. Also, more information and future updates can be found at http://www.doleta.gov/wioa/.