HANDICAPPED; LABOR DEPARTMENT; TRAINING PROGRAMS;

HANDICAPPED;

OLR Research Report


September 12, 2003

 

2003-R-0651

JOB TRAINING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

By: John Moran, Associate Analyst

You asked a series of questions about the state Department of Labor’s (DOL) role in job training for people with disabilities. What follows are the questions and the answers we were able to determine at this time. When more information becomes available, we will update this report.

HOW MANY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES HAVE RECEIVED EMPLOYMENT TRAINING FROM DOL OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS?

DOL officials estimate that at least 1,305 of the more than 200,000 people who received some type of job search assistance or training during FY 2002-03 have disabilities. DOL does not have a specific job-training program for the disabled, although other state agencies sponsor such programs (see below). DOL officials believe the actual figure is higher than 1,305 because DOL staff, due to restrictions under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), generally cannot ask people whether they have a disability. They may legally ask veterans if they have a disability, and, according to John McCarthy, DOL legislative liaison, veterans comprise 855 of the 1,305. Any other person with a disability would have to volunteer the information.

All DOL job services are available to anyone seeking a job regardless of whether or not the person has a disability. DOL assistance often starts at one of the state’s 14 Connecticut Works “One-Stop” Centers, which provide an array of services, training, and referrals for people seeking jobs.

The DOL’s job assistance services, including training options, are often offered through partnerships with other groups including regional workforce development boards, created under the federally funded Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and the state Office of Workforce Competitiveness.

HOW MANY OF THOSE WHO RECEIVED TRAINING FOUND JOBS?

DOL does not have data immediately available on this.

HOW DOES SOMEONE SEEKING TRAINING FIND OUT WHAT AVAILABLE?

The easiest way is to go to the nearest Connecticut Works center or regional workforce development board (see link for Connecticut Works locations: http: //www. ctdol. state. ct. us/gendocs/directions. htm).

WHAT ARE OTHER STATES DOING TO TRAIN PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?

Much of what states do to provide job assistance or training to people with disabilities exists due to federal law, the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Furthermore, the ADA, enacted in 1990, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in the workplace.

Federal Rehabilitation Act

The rehabilitation act, in part, requires state social service agencies accepting federal funds for vocational rehabilitation programs to ensure that all handicapped people they serve have access to the programs and the opportunity to participate and benefit from services. In effect, this requires state vocational rehabilitation programs to tailor programs to any type of disability.

As a result, all states have similar rehabilitation programs, and Connecticut’s is operated by the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS). Vocational rehabilitation assists people with physical or mental disabilities to find and keep a job. To be eligible, an individual must have a physical or mental condition, which has a significant impact on the individual's ability to find or keep a job. The individual must be expected to benefit from rehabilitation services. Services are individualized and may include the following: vocational counseling and guidance; job search assistance; skill training; career education in vocational and other schools; on-the-job training; rehabilitation technology services such as providing adaptive equipment for mobility, communication, and specific work activities; vehicle and home modifications; supported employment services, including job coaching; services that help restoring a physical or mental condition; or other services that help clients to achieve the goals of the employment program.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

All states must comply with and enforce the ADA, a wide-ranging law intended to make society more accessible to people with disabilities. It covers four major areas: (1) employment, (2) public services, (3) public accommodations, and (4) telecommunications.

The employment section requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodation to protect the rights of people with disabilities in all aspects of employment. Accommodations may include restructuring jobs; altering the layout of workstations; modifying equipment, application process, hiring, wages, benefits, and other aspects of employment.

California’s Workforce Inclusion Act of 2002

This law required the state to craft a new strategy to achieve a number of goals including bringing adults with disabilities into gainful employment at a rate comparable to that of the general population. It also adds additional reporting requirements to a number of agencies in the workforce arena and modifies the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. (Connecticut also has a Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities that can be reached through DOL. ) For a detailed description of the California law see Attachment 1 or this NCSL link: http: //www. ncsl. org/programs/employ/assemblybill925. htm.

WHAT ARE THE FUNDING SOURCES FOR THIS TRAINING?

Most of the funding for job training, for disabled people and anyone else, comes from the federal government. The federal government funds the vast majority of state DOL programs, and most of the programs administered through the state Office of Workforce Competitiveness and the regional workforce development boards are funded with federal WIA money.

OTHER SERVICES IN CONNECTICUT

Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS)

The bureau, housed in the Department of Social Services, is a primary source of vocational assistance to people with disabilities. It provides them the assistance to prepare for, find, and keep a job; job placement is one type of assistance the bureau provides. BRS provides assistance on a priority basis, serving those having the severest disability first. Funding for these services comes primarily from the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration and state appropriations.

The following is a partial list of services that someone might receive:

Board of Educational Services for the Blind (BESB)

BESB operated an Industries Division, which provided jobs and job training to approximately 100 blind and vision-impaired individuals. The division was shut down in early in 2003 due to the lay-off of the state employees supervising the program. The program was eliminated in the biennial 2004-05 budget. PA 03-3, June 30 Special Session (SB 2001, the human services implementer) provides up to $ 500,000, not to restore the program, but to provide job and vocational training, job support services, and other services for all the people who were in the industries program at the time it closed. The aim is to transition these people from a sheltered work setting to competitive jobs.

JM: ts