North Carolina has been awarded a $13.8 million federal grant to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities access inclusive jobs with competitive wages and benefits. As part of the project, three regional sites will provide intensive support and training to increase access to jobs in growing employment sectors — green jobs, essential workers and travel/hospitality.
The five-year grant is part of $177 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration for Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration projects. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is one of 14 state vocational rehabilitation agencies receiving funding from the Disability Innovation Fund.
"Building a strong and inclusive workforce is a top priority for our department and our state," said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. "Working a community job, alongside people with and without disabilities and earning the same wages and benefits as others doing the same job, has a positive impact in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This historic investment will help North Carolina make progress towards the strategic priorities in our state’s Olmstead Plan."
North Carolina’s project will create three regional pilot sites to provide an enhanced array of evidence-based services to increase access to competitive integrated employment, or CIE. CIE means those with disabilities work in the community alongside other employees without disabilities, earn at least minimum wage and receive the same workplace benefits and opportunities as other employees doing the same job.
The demonstration project includes enhanced training for NCDHHS partners, including service providers and employers, to increase their capacity to effectively support individuals with complex needs as they transition to CIE. A key feature of North Carolina’s demonstration project is the formation of a stakeholder advisory council, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, service providers, employers and other key system partners.
Kathie Trotter, who leads the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services at NCDHHS, expressed gratitude for the strong support North Carolina’s SWTCIE proposal garnered: "I want to thank the internal and external partners who provided feedback on our proposal, submitted letters of support and voiced their commitment to our common goal of increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to find and keep good-paying, community jobs."