by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has selected ten states and the District of Columbia to “participate as core states” in its National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative, which launched in 2019. Government agencies in these areas will be connected to “consulting, capacity-building support and ongoing mentoring” as they look to expand competitive employment outcomes for workers with disabilities. The ten states are California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. The DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which administers NEON, hopes that the initiative underway in these ten states will expand NEON’s focus to “state-level policies and systems,” in conjunction with its existing contracts with national provider organizations and subject matter experts, to increase employment on a national scale. Taren Williams, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, explained that, “‘The addition of 10 core states and the District of Columbia to the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network will help support policymaking and other efforts to make Competitive Integrated Employment a reality for more people with disabilities. Now, effective practices used by service providers can support strategies such as blending, braiding and sequencing of funding, strategic planning, benefits counseling, and effective data collection and analysis to promote greater workplace equity.’” You can read more in this press release from ODEP.