Maine's CHOICES CEO Project
Expanding opportunities for workers with disabilities requires the efforts of a variety of people and organizations. Those listed on this page have made significant contributions to the project.
Funding, Administration and Staffing
The CHOICES CEO project is funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and operates in a strategic partnership with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Department of Labor.
Partners in Maine
The Commission on Disability and Employment oversees the implementation of Maine's Strategic Plan to Maximize Employment for People with Disabilities, which is the plan that guides this project. The commission is a subcommittee of the Maine Jobs Council. It works with the executive and legislative branches of the state government on issues affecting the employment of people with disabilities. Mel Clarrage, of the Disability Rights Center, is chair of the Commission.
The Maine Jobs Council, as the Statewide Workforce Investment Board oversees the implementation of all workforce development programs in Maine. The Council helps to connect the CHOICES CEO project with other workforce initiatives, collaborates with this project and other project partners to educate policy-makers and the public, and gives recommendations to the governor and legislature. Phil Dionne, is chair of the Council.
Business and employer engagement is undertaken in partnershipship with Working Together: Maine's business-to-business network focussed on employment issues affecting wrokers with disabilities. Working Together is an affiliate member of the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN).
Additional partners include:
- Maine Medical Center's Department of Vocational Services, a program that helps people with disabilities secure and retain employment.
- Maine Transition Network, an organization improving the experiences of young people with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work.
Regional and National Partners
The National Consortium on Health Systems Development (NCHSD) facilitates information sharing among states that are improving opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work. NCHSD provides support and technical assistance to the CHOICES CEO project as well as other CMS-funded Medicaid Infrastructure grantees. It offers a variety of information exchange and technical assistance opportunities, including teleconferences and workshops. It also maintains a library of assessment and planning tools, outreach strategies, and best practices in areas related to disability and employment.
The Northeast Partnership is a collaborative of the six New England states. Participants in the partnership share information about program and policy improvements for workers with disabilities. The CHOICES CEO project is a member and active participant in this group.
Maine's Commission on Disability and Employment
Maine's Commission on Disability and Employment was created in 1997 as a subcommittee of the Maine Jobs Council. It replaced the former Governor's Committee on Employment of Peoplewith Disabilities. The move to the Jobs Council brought the committee's advisory function into the mainstream of the state's workforce development planning.
Its role, as established by state law, is:
- To advise, consult and assist the executive and legislative branches on activities of state government that affect the employment of people with disabilities; and
- To serve as an advocate on behalf of people with disabilities by promoting and assisting activities designed to further equal opportunity.
The law further defines the Commission's role in relation to advising, assisting, education, and advocacy on behalf of workers with disabilities, employers and the general public.
The Commission meets on the third Thursday of every month, usually in Augusta. It holds its annual meeting in the fall. Contact Karen Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Council has been a strong partner of the CHOICES CEO project. It helped with the roll-out of Working Together, the strategic plan guiding this project. It made disability issues an important focus of last fall's Future of Maine's Economy Conference. Currently, the Council is working with CHOICES CEO on implementing the strategic plan.
Commission members with Governor Baldacci, February 2006