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help-wantedCounty Boards of DD and CMS Guidelines

Over the past few months I have read article after article raising concerns regarding the public announcement of county board ran workshops ‘closing’. This news is in response to new guidelines from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) that include clearer parameters regarding Conflict of Interest prohibiting the Local County Boards from being both the provider and the case manager responsible for oversight. This effort is definitely pushing Ohio closer and closer to the Employment First vision, stating that all individuals with a disability are capable of work and should be actively engaged in their communities. As I reflect on the words of the news articles, the constant theme I hear is concern of the future, how do we move toward Employment First and fully integrated settings. On the flip side I have read about many resources being made available to help the average professional, county board and private provider alike, to help with the next steps of transformation. For this article specifically I am going to highlight a few such resources.

2016 Systems Transformation Conference

The Employment First Initiative will be hosting the 2016 Systems Transformation Conference on March 6, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza North in Columbus, Ohio. This is a one day event that will offer a variety of sessions regarding system transformation.

The conference will offer quality sessions and networking opportunities focused on meeting the needs of Ohio provider organizations and helping to address the challenges they face as they shift their service delivery models

National subject matter experts and local leaders will be available to answer questions and guide conversation regarding transformation in Ohio. The cost per individual is $60. Some of the topics on the days agenda include:

  • Elements of High Performing Organizations in Ohio
  • Best Practices in Systems Transformation
  • Stakeholder Engagement Strategies
  • Staff Development to Improve Employer Engagement
  • Networking sessions with local and national Subject Matter Experts
  • Steps to Organizational Redesign
  • Organizational Change Management

Head to the Ohio’s Employment First website to register. I am sure this will fill up soon and absolutely looks like a great opportunity for professionals to network, collaborate and vision Ohio’s future.

LEAD Center

LEAD Center, County Boards

The LEAD center is a collaborative of disability organizations dedicated with the same mission of:

advancing sustainable individual and systems level change to improve competitive, integrated employment and economic self-sufficiency for all people across the spectrum of disability.

They are led by the National Disability Institute and receive funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. The LEAD Center is integral in policy review as well as offering resources for organizations pursuing employment for individuals with any type of disability. You can download a two-page overview of their organization from their website.

In December of 2015, the LEAD Center and Office of Disability Employment Policy released a set of three Employment First  Technical Briefs.  These briefs can be used for states, regions or even agencies pursing transformation. Below are the three briefs and short description of their content. Browse the LEAD Center’s website for even further resources.

  • Technical Brief #1:
    Connecting the Dots: Using Federal policy to promote Employment First Systems – Change Effort

provides a robust summary and overview of public policy, regulations, rules and informational bulletins that support employment outcomes and employment first for youth and adults with disabilities.

  • Technical Brief #2:
    Federal Legal Framework that Supports Competitive, Integrated Employment Outcomes of Youth and Adults with Significant Disabilities

highlights various legal actions by Federal enforcement agencies that have significant implications for how states prioritize and deliver services for individuals with disabilities.

  • Technical Brief #3:
    Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation

provides guidance to states that are involved in systems change efforts aimed at improving competitive, integrated employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion I recognize there is push back and concern regarding this shift of how services are provided. It will be interesting how the next year will play out. Ohio has until 2024 to come into full compliance with the Conflict of Interest Rule. I remain of the belief,  that opportunities for change, collaboration and simply providing services differently is completely possible. We must remove our preconceived notion of how it’s been done in the past and allow for the path to shift. Not only should Ohio be looking to provide ‘safety’ to individuals with disabilities we should be looking for ways for them to live life, naturally, as any average citizen is allowed. Resources are available, it’s up to us as professionals, individuals and parents to put the system to the test!

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