WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that 12 states and the District of Columbia will participate as “core states” in fiscal year 2024 in its National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network initiative, enabling government agencies in these states to receive consulting, capacity-building support and ongoing mentoring to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.
The recently selected states are California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee, in addition to the District of Columbia.
The selections will complement existing partnerships between the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and six state intermediary organizations that joined the NEON initiative in FY 2023. These organizations assist the initiative with key issues at the national, state and local levels that impact state governments’ abilities to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.
“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,” explained Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams. “Advancing strategies such as blending, braiding and sequencing of funding, strategic planning, benefits counseling and effective data analysis will allow us to achieve greater workplace equity.”
The six state intermediary organizations currently engaged in the NEON initiative are the Association of People Supporting Employment First and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, both in Rockville, Maryland; the National Association of Medicaid Directors in Washington, D.C.; the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, all located in Alexandria, Virginia.
ODEP has administered the NEON initiative since its 2019 launch, and contracts with Economic Systems Inc. of Falls Church, Virginia, for services needed to support the initiative.