Community-Based Organizations

Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that provide workforce development services to job seekers with disabilities can include American Job Centers. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs also provide services to help job seekers prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment. CBO staff can include Disability Resource Coordinators, case managers, or workforce counselors who guide job seekers, or help create an Integrated Resource Team (IRT).

The IRT strategy provides many benefits to community-based organizations who provide workforce services:

  • Fosters cross-agency collaboration among workforce agencies, Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, community-based organizations, schools, and social services.
  • Reduces duplication of services supporting youth with disabilities while reducing the workloads of case managers and agency expenses.
  • Presents an opportunity to braid funds and leverage the expertise of each service provider.
  • Organizations can have shared employment outcomes.

Workforce Goals of CBOs

The goal for community-based organizations is to help individuals with disabilities make progress along their career journey.

Outreach - Perform outreach on behalf of the local workforce system to bring job seekers with disabilities into the customer flow.

Programmatic Access - Ensure that job seekers with disabilities can access all available services. Once fully engaged, ensure that all outcomes are accessible to the job seekers as well.

Physical Access - Ensure the design of products, devices, services, or environments are usable by job seekers with disabilities. This could include assistive technology or access to benefits.

Support - Ensure that staff are trained to provide services to job seekers with disabilities. Support entails comprehensive onboarding, ongoing training, counseling, and mentorship required to succeed in their role.

Getting Started

Supporting the Job Seeker

  1. Create a welcoming and trusting environment. Develop a relationship based on agreements and mutual understanding.
  2. Ask the language preferences of the job-seeker. Some prefer “person-first” language, when you put the person first and the disability second. This helps focus on the individual rather than the disability. Another form of language is "identity-first" language, which is particularly important in the autism, blind, and deaf communities.
  3. Listen to the job seeker’s needs. Ask clarifying questions to ensure you and the IRT members are understanding the job seeker’s goals and challenges correctly.
  4. Provide coaching and support to the job seeker.
  5. Coordinating Services

  6. Foster collaboration among partners. Identify if there is any duplication of services and ensure efficiency among agencies.
  7. Consider blending funds. Questions to reflect upon include:
    1. Can I clearly articulate the scope of my project to relevant stakeholders and what I am trying to achieve?
    2. Have I identified stakeholders whose funding would be a more appropriate fit to the job seeker's needs?
    3. Have I verified that sufficient resources will be available to assist the job seeker accomplish what they want to achieve?
    4. Have I identified potential barriers or challenges to implementation and determined how different types of funding can assist the job seeker in overcoming them?
    5. Have I established how I will know whether the job seeker's goal has been achieved?
  8. Work with the job seeker and their team helper to identify other stakeholders that should be invited to the IRT.
  9. Use this action plan to ensure partners maintain frequent communication and are held accountable for deliverables.

Additional Information for CBOs