CCD Recommendations to the Senate for WIA/Rehabilitation Act Reauthorization
June 20, 2003
June 30, 2003
The Honorable Michael Enzi The Honorable Patty Murray
Chairman Ranking Member
Employment, Safety and Training Subcommittee Employment, Safety and Training Subcommittee
Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
SH-607 Hart Senate Office Building SH-801 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Enzi and Senator Murray:
Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is a coalition of national disability organizations and advocates for national public policy that ensures the self determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. The Employment and Training Task Force is a smaller group within the coalition that addresses Federal disability employment issues, working to secure national public policy that indeed advances self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion in employment for individuals with disabilities.
As President Bush has noted, the unemployment rate for working-age adults with disabilities hovers at around 70 %. Further, those individuals with disabilities that can find jobs are more likely to have less job experience and are more likely to have lower incomes than individuals without disabilities. Accordingly, reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) presents a crucial opportunity to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. On behalf of the member organizations of the CCD Employment and Training Task Force, we offer specific recommendations relative to the reauthorization of WIA, which includes the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. We hope this document will be useful as you prepare for the WIA reauthorization.
INCREASE ACCESS AND IMPROVE SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES AT ONE-STOP CENTERS
CCD contends that the WIA one-stops can play a critical role in helping individuals with disabilities find and retain employment. There are a number of ways to ensure meaningful participation of individuals with disabilities in the services and programs available at the one-stop centers, and accordingly, we make the following recommendations, with proposed language in italics.
Ensure Physical and Programmatic Access
Sec. 101 Definitions
Amend (8) by adding new (D) as follows:
(8) Customized Training-The term "customized training" means training-
. . .
(D) for which the employer provides reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, as needed.
Add new (35) to read as follows, and renumber accordingly:
(35) Programmatic access-The term "programmatic access" means access, including appropriate and individualized participant accommodations, to core services, intensive services, and training services as described in section 134(d), and electronic and information technology available through the one-stop delivery system.
Sec. 111 State Workforce Investment Boards
Amend section 111 by adding new (d)(10):
(d) Functions.-The State Board shall assist the Governor in-
(10) increasing the availability of skills training, employment opportunities, and career advancement for people with disabilities.
Sec. 112 State Plan
Amend section 112 by adding new (b)(15) and (16) to read as follows, and renumber accordingly:
(b) Contents.-The State plan shall include-
(15) a description of the procedures that will be taken by the State to assure that individuals with disabilities have physical and programmatic access to the statewide workforce investment system;
(16) a description of how the State will increase the capacity of the statewide workforce investment system to serve people with disabilities; including the provision of outreach, intake, assessments, and service delivery, the development of performance measures, and the training of staff;
Sec. 117 Local Workforce Investment Boards
Amend section 117 by adding new (d)(2)(E):
(d) Functions of Local Board-
(2) Selection of Operators and Providers-
(E) Consumer Choice Requirements.-Consistent with section 134(d)(3) and (d)(4), the local board shall ensure there are a sufficient number and variety of eligible providers of intensive services and training services in the local area in a manner that maximizes consumer choice, including providers with expertise in assisting individuals with disabilities.
Sec. 118 Local Plan
Amend section 118 by adding new (b)(7), and renumber accordingly:
(b) Contents-The local plan shall include-
(7) a description of how the local board will work with eligible employment and training providers in the local area to ensure that programs and services are physically and programmatically accessible to individuals with disabilities;
Sec. 121 Establishment of One-Stop Delivery Systems
Amend section 121(d)(2) by adding a new subparagraph (C) as follows:
(d) One-Stop Operators.-
(2) Eligibility.-To be eligible to receive funds made available under this subtitle to operate a one-stop center referred to in section 134(c), an entity (which may be a consortium of entities)-
(C) shall certify to the local board that its facilities, technology, and services are physically and programmatically accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Sec. 134 Use of Funds
Amend section 134 by adding new (a)(3)(A)(viii) as follows:
(viii) implementing innovative programs serving individuals with disabilities consistent with section 188.
Amend section 134 by adding new section 134(c)(1)(F) as follows:
(c) Establishment of One-Stop Delivery System-
(1) In General. There shall be established in a State that receives an allotment under 132(b) a one-stop delivery system, which-
(F) shall provide physical and programmatic access to individuals with disabilities.
Sec. 188 Nondiscrimination
Amend section 188 by adding new (a)(3), and renumber accordingly:
(a)(3)-A State that receives allotments under this Act shall ensure that its statewide workforce investment system shall comply with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d).
Performance Measures and Accountability
CCD maintains that the current performance measurement system is flawed. According to testimony provided by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the need for one-stops to meet current performance measures is often the driving factor in deciding who receives WIA services. As a result, in order to meet current performance measurements, one-stop staffs are reluctant to serve clients who may be less likely to find employment or experience earnings increases. Accordingly, some clients are denied services. The need to meet specific performance measures creates a disincentive to provide services to harder-to-serve populations. CCD believes that the effect of this flawed system significantly impacts the ability of individuals with disabilities to receive appropriate training and employment services.
However, the application of the Office of Management and Budget's fourth proposed measure of efficiency (annual cost per participant) to all one-stop partners is not the answer. This would create additional disincentives to serving people with disabilities, many of whom require more costly services over a longer period of time. If performance measures are truly intended to rate performance accountability, it is important to ensure that we are measuring the effectiveness of the services provided, and not the cost.
Therefore, CCD recommends that performance measures must be tailored to acknowledge the differences in populations being served, recognizing and crediting provision of services to harder-to-serve populations. Congress should direct the Department of Labor to develop measures that more clearly represent the individualized needs of participants, including individuals with disabilities.
CCD also views the consistent lack of data to support one-stop accountability (both fiscal and programmatic) as one of the major weaknesses in the current program, from the local level all the way to Federal enforcement. According to GAO, there is no measure that assesses overall one-stop performance, and the data that are used to measure outcomes are outdated by the time they are available. In addition, there is no system for collecting data on the provision of core services, and thus, the system does not collect data on all participants. The one-stop system must be held accountable for the public resources they spend and the services they provide.
Additionally, each one-stop partner must remain accountable to their original statutory requirements. The current Rehabilitation Act requires that Title I funds be limited to serving individuals with disabilities. We maintain that this requirement must remain in place and states must be able to demonstrate compliance. The accountability measures must also ensure that one-stop funding remains within the one-stop system and is not diverted to other activities, such as State economic development programs.
Representation of Disability Interest on State and Local Workforce Investment Boards
Nearly five years after implementation of WIA, some States are meeting the requirement to include a representative of the public Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program on the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) by having the head of the umbrella agency housing the Designated State Unit administering the public VR program to serve as the VR representative on the SWIB. In addition, States that, based on the grandfather clause in Title I of WIA, decided to use existing boards to operate as the SWIB may not have anyone representing VR. Neither of these actions meets the intent of WIA, to ensure the inclusion of individuals representing the needs of people with disabilities at all levels of the WIA system.
Clarification of current law should assure that the State VR Director is the representative of VR on the SWIB. States and one-stops should also take additional steps to get more representation from the disability community in the WIA system to ensure direct representation from community-based providers and people with disabilities on SWIBs.
Currently, WIA requires Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) to include representatives of local community-based organizations (including organizations representing individuals with disabilities and veterans). As a result of this requirement, many LWIBs include representatives of the public VR program and individuals with disabilities. To ensure that the interests of people with disabilities continue to remain a part of local WIA implementation, CCD recommends strengthening this language by making specific reference to LWIBs including a representative of the public VR program, a representative of community-based providers, and a least one individual with a disability.
CCD also makes the following recommendation:
Sec. 111 State Workforce Investment Boards
Amend section 111 by adding new subsection 111(b)(1)(C)(vi)(II), and renumber accordingly:
(1) In General-The State Board shall include-
(C) representatives appointed by the Governor, who are-
(vi)(II) in the case of the Public Vocational Rehabilitation Program authorized under title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 720 et seq.), the Vocational Rehabilitation Director employed by the Designated State Unit or the Vocational Rehabilitation Directors in States that have a separate State entity that is responsible for the rehabilitation of individuals who are blind and visually impaired; and
WIA FUNDING AND COST SHARING
According to the GAO, many states and localities have been hampered by the lack of a funding source dedicated specifically to the one-stop infrastructure. Further, many of WIA's partners identified the lack of resources as a major impediment in their ability to fully participate in the one-stops. Moreover, the lack of funding for infrastructure leads to the diversion of resources from direct customer service and skills training under WIA. Accordingly, CCD recommends that Congress fund the costs of operating one-stops with a dedicated stream of funding.
It is important to note that full implementation of the one-stops was not required until July, 2000. It is a new program, with many issues yet to be adequately addressed. One of the major challenges has been collaboration among very different systems. CCD believes that the strategies included in the original law for collaboration and cost sharing are effective and need time to be fully implemented. The current locally negotiated cost allocation plans allow each mandatory partner to be responsive to its own set of statutory requirements, while making a contribution to the one-stop system and opening the doors of the universal system to each of their constituencies. Local systems now have the flexibility to negotiate with each mandatory partner regarding the contributions they will make and the services that they will be able to support with their cost allocations. As GAO found, this negotiating has fostered the development of strong program partnerships, has encouraged communication and collaboration among partners, and has allowed partners to better integrate their respective programs and services. This critically important local flexibility would be lost if the Governor were given the authority to determine the mandatory partners' contributions at the State level.
We are concerned with proposals that require contributions from each partner at the State level for a number of reasons. Our first and major concern is the consequence of the loss of critically needed resources for serving individuals with disabilities in the VR program. Presently, 37 State VR agencies operate under an Order of Selection, meaning they do not have sufficient funds to serve all eligible individuals. The State VR program cannot afford to finance the one-stop infrastructure when a significant percentage of VR's eligible population remains unserved. The Rehabilitation Act has been carefully crafted over three decades to provide individualized services for individuals with disabilities and to ensure that their rights under the Rehabilitation Act are protected. We must not allow erosion of this program by giving the State the authority to use funding designated for serving individuals with disabilities for other purposes.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM
Expand the Role of the Client Assistance Program
Title I - Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Part B-Basic Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Sec. 112 Client Assistance Program
Amend section 112 as follows:
(a) From funds appropriated under subsection (h) of this section, the Secretary shall, in accordance with this section, make grants to states to establish and carry out client assistance programs to provide assistance in informing and advising all clients and client applicants of all available benefits under this chapter, and, upon request of such clients or client applicants, to assist and advocate for such clients or applicants in their relationships with projects, programs, and services provided under this chapter, including assistance and advocacy in pursuing legal, administrative, or other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of the rights of such individuals under this chapter and to facilitate access to services funded under this chapter through individual and systemic advocacy. The client assistance program shall provide information on the available services and benefits under this chapter and title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq.) to individuals with disabilities in the State, especially with regard to individuals with disabilities who have traditionally been unserved or underserved by vocational rehabilitation programs. Client assistance programs shall also provide assistance and advocacy with regard to priority issue areas, as specified under subsection (1) of this section. In providing assistance and advocacy under this subsection with respect to services under this subchapter, or with respect to other programs or activities as authorized by this section, a client assistance program may provide the assistance and advocacy with respect to services that are directly related to facilitating the employment of the individual.
And add new subsection (a)(1)
(1) PRIORITY ISSUE AREAS -- The client assistance program shall on an annual basis develop a statement of objectives and priorities, and provide to the public, including individuals with disabilities and, as appropriate, the individuals' representatives, an opportunity to comment on the objectives and priorities established by, and the activities of, the program, including the objectives and priorities for the activities of the program for each year and the rationale for the establishment of such objectives and priorities; and the coordination of the assistance and advocacy provided by the program under this section with the advocacy programs of the State long-term care ombudsman program established under the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 15001 et seq.), the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 10801 et seq.), and the Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights Program under this chapter. The following issue areas, among others, shall be included within the program's proposed statement of objectives and priorities: addressing barriers to full participation in the transition services mandated under this chapter and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (29 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the One Stop Service Delivery Systems established under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 2801 et seq.), and the programs and services funded under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193); and addressing claims of employment discrimination under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq.), except that assistance and advocacy relating to such claims may not be provided to Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities who are eligible for services under section 1150 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320b-21). Based on the public comment relating to such objectives and priorities and the client assistance program's available resources, the program shall provide assistance and advocacy relating to one or more of these issue areas on behalf of persons referenced in subsection (a) of this section.
Establish an American Indian Consortium Client Assistance Program
Amend section 112 by adding new (e)(1)(D)(ii), and renumber accordingly:
(ii) Beginning on October 1, 2004, the Secretary shall make grants to the protection and advocacy system serving the American Indian Consortium to provide client assistance services in accordance with this section; the amount of such grants shall be the same as provided to territories under paragraph (1)(B), as increased under clauses (i) and (iii) of this paragraph. For purposes of this clause, the term "protection and advocacy system" means a protection and advocacy system established under part C of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 15041 et seq.), and the term "American Indian Consortium" means a consortium established under part C of such Act.
Enable Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights Program to Retain Earned Income
Title V-Rights and Advocacy
Sec. 509 Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights
Amend section 509(g)(2) as follows:
(g) CARRYOVER AND DIRECT PAYMENT.-
(2) CARRYOVER. - Any amount paid to an eligible system that serves a State or the American Indian consortium for a fiscal year that remains unobligated at the end of such year shall remain available to such system that serves the State or the American Indian consortium for obligation during the next fiscal year for the purposes for which such amount was paid, except that program income generated from such amount shall remain available to such system indefinitely.
DO NO HARM
WIA has only been operational for three years, which is barely enough time to fully analyze the successes and failures of the one-stop system. It is imperative that Congress not take any action that undermines innovative strategies and partnerships that are just underway.
Dedicated Funding for Supported Employment, Projects with Industry, Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers, and Recreation Projects
The Rehabilitation Act includes a number of smaller, specialized programs designed to address specific service needs of individuals with disabilities. CCD strongly supports the balance that is struck with these dedicated programs and urges their continuation in the pending reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, we ask that the Supported Employment State Grant program, Projects With Industries (PWI), Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers, and Recreation Projects continue to exist as distinct programs within the Rehabilitation Act. Since these programs serve a very important role as adjuncts to the VR services authorized under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, CCD cannot support the President's request to consolidate these separate funding streams into the Title I State VR grant.
CCD appreciates the opportunity to provide you with our recommendations. If we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
American Congress of Community Support & Employment Services
American Foundation for the Blind
American Network of Community Options and Resources
American Psychological Association
Association for Persons in Supported Employment
Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation
Goodwill Industries International
Inter/National Association of Business, Industry and Rehabilitation
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems
Paralyzed Veterans of America
The Arc of the United State
United Cerebral Palsy