Maine's CHOICES CEO Project
Working Together News
A newsletter about Maine's efforts to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities
"Future of Maine's Economy" Conference to be Held in Augusta
The Governor's Workforce Cabinet is holding its second "Future of Maine's Economy" conference on September 21-22, 2006, at the Augusta Civic Center. Last year's conference was attended by nearly 400 people interested in the future of Maine's economy and workforce.
It is important for people with disabilities and advocates to attend this conference to ensure workforce issues related to workers with disabilities receive strong attention.
There will be many prominent speakers. Of particular interest to workers with disabilities and advocates is Denise Bissonnette. On the second morning of the conference she will present "The Art of Creating Opportunity," which will include ideas on:
- Strategies for engaging employers and creating jobs suited to people's needs and interests;
- Assisting people who have barriers to employment to look beyond their limitations and to uncover their interest, values and unique gifts;
- Identifying opportunities in the "invisible job market" and assessing potential employers; and
- Resolving employer concerns about workers with disabilities.
There will be separate meeting with Ms. Bissonette (open to the public) on Friday, September 22 at 1:30 pm at the Ground Round/Holiday Inn adjacent to the Civic Center.
For more conference information and online registration, visit the conference web site: www.maineascd.org/futureme. For phone registration, call Maine ASCD at (207) 729-6652. There is a fee to attend. Limited scholarships are being offered by the CHOICES CEO Project; for scholarship information or information about the afternoon meeting with Denise Bissonnette contact Leslie Pohl: Voice (207) 228-8031; TTY (207) 780-5646; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Win-Win Opportunity! Disability Mentoring Day is October 18, 2006
Disability Mentoring Day is a great way for everyone to get involved in promoting employment for people with disabilities. On October 18, employers and job seekers with disabilities will come together for a day of job-shadowing and hands-on career exploration.
Since its inception in 1999, Disability Mentoring Day has been sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities. In Maine, this year's Disability Mentoring Day is slated to be the biggest and most successful to date. Activities are currently being planned! For updates, visit: http://choices.muskie.usm.maine.edu/dmd.
Employers will help young people with disabilities build confidence about their own employability. Additionally, employers will gain access to a new pool of emerging talent. Many employers have developed lasting relationships with those they mentor.
For more information, visit: http://choices.muskie.usm.maine.edu/dmd. Or, contact Rod MacInnes, email@example.com, TTY (877) 612-4800; Zahira Duvall, firstname.lastname@example.org, Voice (800) 640-7200; or Sadie Donnell, email@example.com, Voice (207) 772-5356.
State Employee Survey Underway
State employees are being surveyed about disability in the workplace. This survey is one of the first steps in implementing the executive order signed this past February by Governor Baldacci. The order sets into motion steps to make the Maine state government a model employer of workers with disabilities.
The survey results will determine: 1) the number of workers with disabilities who are employed by the state; 2) the degree to which the state is helping its workers with disabilities; and 3) ways in which the state could better support its workers with disabilities.
A random sample of current state employees are being contacted. Those surveyed do not have to have a disability to participate as there are questions pertaining to workers who support family members with a disability.
Survey responses will be collected and analyzed this fall, with a report on overall findings expected early next year.
Mental Health Vocational Plan Under Development
Over the past year, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hired two national consultants, Elizabeth Jones and Roberta Hurley, to recommend improvements to vocational and other services. The consultants' report on vocational services was received by DHHS in late May. It addressed action steps contained in a previous DHHS plan which were:
- Expand employment expertise in provider agencies.
- Expand employment support alternatives.
- Improve the long term vocational support program.
- Improve services by monitoring the vocational rehabilitation wait list.
Based on the consultants' recommendations, DHHS has revised the Vocational Plan. The revised plan includes proposals to fund two new benefit specialists and four new employment specialists; training for all community support workers on consumer engagement and the importance of employment to recovery; and an online module of the Maine Employment Curriculum (part of the training for mental health providers).
Please e-mail comments or questions to Jim Braddick, at Jim.Braddick@maine.gov.
New on the Web
Ideas for Stories
Please help us… we are seeking stories! Do you know of a worker or employer that we can feature in our newsletter? Please contact Leslie Pohl.
October is National People with Disabilities Employment Awareness Month!
In 1945, Congress enacted Public Law 176 establishing October as the month to recognize the contributions Americans with disabilities are making in the workplace. This year's theme is Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce.
For information on ordering a copy or copies of the national poster (shown here), contact Leslie Pohl Voice (207) 228-8031; TTY (207) 780-5646; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mainers Attend Two Conferences in California
In July, Carolyn Gray of the CHOICES CEO project attended the conference of the National Association of Governors' Committee on People with Disabilities. The association brings state-level committees together to discuss promoting equal access to employment for people with disabilities.
Maine's committee, the Commission on Disability and Employment, works for public-private collaboration on employment policy for people with disabilities. While many other state committees shared Maine's priorities, topics were wide-ranging. These included disability and employment policy, accessibility, and emergency preparedness.
Of note, were speakers from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), part of the Office of Disability Employment Policy. JAN offers free consulting to employers and people with disabilities about work solutions. Representatives spoke about their work with the University of Iowa, which is studying JAN data and employer experiences. Preliminary findings show the average cost of providing a job accommodation is $600. A similar 1999 analysis showed the average cost was $500.
CHOICES CEO project staff also attended a meeting of the California Health Incentives Improvement Project (CHIIP). It was exciting to meet with a group doing such similar work.
As in Maine, the CHIIP project works closely with the state to implement a strategic plan to maximize employment of people with disabilities. The priorities of the California strategic plan are similar to those of the Maine plan. CHIIP is focused on making the state government a model employer of people with disabilities and on better supporting youth transitioning from school to work.
Both California and Maine achieved an executive order proclaiming their state as a model employer for people with disabilities. Toward this end, California is developing a list of qualified people with disabilities for the state government to employ. In Maine, workgroups are implementing our state's executive order as well as related provisions of Public Law 570.
California is fortunate to have the help of the Disabled in State Service (DISS) organization, which has a list of hundreds of people with disabilities who are either already working in state government or who are interested in doing so. Moreover, every state department is required to have a disabled advisory committee. These committees discuss aspects of being an employee with a disability in state departments. Lastly, California will be holding trainings on attaining state employment.
Workgroups in Maine will be looking at the approaches of California and other states The opportunity for the California and Maine groups to discuss activities resulted in both states discovering new ideas and connections for future endeavors.
The Results Are In: Workers with disabilities share their experiences with Medicare's new prescription drug program
In March, people enrolled in the MaineCare's Workers with Disabilities Option who received both Medicaid and Medicare were contacted about their experiences with the new prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) which started in January 2006.
Eighty-five percent of those surveyed had tried to get their medications through a Part D plan. Of these:
- 19 percent had trouble initially filling their prescriptions. Twenty-seven percent of these respondents were still having problems at the time of the survey;
- 15 percent reported their new plan required them to switch a medication they had been taking before; and
- Four percent had to switch to a different pharmacy to get their medications.
Also, it was clear from the responses that more outreach is needed regarding when and how to change plans under Part D. This will be an ongoing goal for everyone involved. For more information, go to the full article.
CHOICES CEO to attend JAN Conference
Mark Richards, Research Analyst, will attend the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Conference in Boston on September 18 & 19, 2006. The theme is "Empowering Employers to build an Inclusive Workforce."
Mark Your Calendar
The Future of Maine's Economy II
September 21-22, 2006
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, ME
The Future of Maine's Economy II will focus on aligning workforce development with education and economic development in Maine.
Speaking Up for Us (SUFU) of Maine Regional Events
American Council for the Blind of Maine Annual Convention
October 27-29, 2006
Email Mel Clarrage, mclarrage1.maine.rr.com, for more information.