Our work in the area of young adulthood focuses on the transition from secondary education to adult life, which includes accessing and navigating services, benefits, employment, person-centered planning, and community inclusion. We're also engaged in systems and policy analysis.
Family and Social Services Administration Grant
The Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) of the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) awarded the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC) a training grant for the years 2022-2024. In collaboration with leadership from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services and the Bureau of Disabilities Services (BDS), the IIDC team provides training to VR staff and is working to revise and develop new courses for case managers as well as organize a large-scale, state-wide conference for DDRS staff.
The Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) leads the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Staff Training component. As part of this grant, the Center meets regularly with VR leadership, has conducted a needs assessment for VR staff, and has provided training on several topics, including motivational interviewing, career pathways, social security benefits and work incentives, implicit bias, and autism. CCLC has delivered this training in person and virtually, with an average of 150 participants per topic. Looking ahead to the professional development schedule for 2023-24, the Center plans to include training for VR staff that focuses on working with individuals with anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and neurological disorders. This continued emphasis on professional development underscores a commitment to providing the most comprehensive and effective support for individuals with disabilities.
A five-phase strategic training plan guides the case manager training initiative which is rooted in reflections of strengths, gaps, and observations accumulated over the past years. IIDC staff meet regularly with leadership from BDS to ensure the plan’s effectiveness and relevance. Plans for case manager online training modules will include a focus on the implementation of the LifeCourse Framework tools in person-centered planning with Medicaid recipients.
As part of the deliverables for this grant, the team will assist in orchestrating two large-scale conferences, one in September 2023 and one in 2024. The 2024 conference is a statewide conference for all of Indiana’s DDRS’ 500+ employees to focus on one vision and one message – Building an Inclusive Workforce. The Center’s experience in developing training materials will be leveraged for the conference. This includes resources such as the IIDC’s Indiana Disability History Project, Supported Decision-Making webinars, and resources on Charting the LifeCourse from our partner, the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
National Fee-Based Courses
In April 2023, the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) introduced the National Learning Academy (NLA), a virtual education platform for social services professionals. The NLA offers self-paced training for professionals assisting individuals with disabilities in employment. Courses provide education on working with key disability populations along with evidence-based strategies to support individuals with disabilities in employment or postsecondary education. The NLA launched with four courses on mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. Other nationally offered online courses, including Employment Consultant Training, Discovery, and Natural Supports, will soon be part of the NLA offerings. As a member of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) network, the NLA provides credentials, including certificates, Continuing Education credit, and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Hours. For these and many other reasons, the NLA is an attractive choice to social services professionals.
FEAT Expands to Statewide Level
Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) is an adaptable, evidence-based program designed to help transition-age students (ages 14-22) with disabilities, their families, and professionals understand customized, competitive employment. With Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) authorized funds from Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services, the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) expanded Indiana FEAT activities statewide. To best reach stakeholders statewide, FEAT is offered in a different community annually and in three regions (northern, central, and southern), covering urban, suburban, and rural communities and is offered in an online format each winter. FEAT trainers provide individual and group support to participants to enhance follow-through. The trainings average 27 attendees per session (in-person and online) with projections expected to reach at least 100 participants annually. In 2024, the online FEAT training will be available in Spanish to reach a more diverse audience.
Department of Corrections
The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC), under the Center for Community Living and Careers (CCLC), has a history of improving Individualized Education Program (IEP) quality and compliance, leading to better transition services and outcomes for Indiana students. INSTRC is collaborating with the Indiana Department of Correction (IDoC) to address the unique transition needs of students with disabilities involved in the juvenile justice system. Funded by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, this initiative trains special education professionals to enhance transition-focused IEPs and teaching practices, preparing students for adulthood, and achieving postsecondary goals in education, employment, and independent living. This initiative, bridging incarceration and community integration, seeks to reduce recidivism and improve life success. Key activities in the partnership include IEP training, online webinars, virtual office hours, technical assistance, disability awareness and special education training for IDoC staff, evaluation of training effectiveness, and resource provision.
Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) Model Demonstration Project
In 2022, Indiana was one of 14 states whose vocational rehabilitation agency received a grant to decrease the use of sub-minimum wages for people with disabilities and increase access to competitive integrated employment. The grant funds the SWTCIE Model Demonstration Project, called Supported Employment +. The project expands competitive, integrated employment by implementing and evaluating a comprehensive employment service package with 4 organizations and 7 sites across Indiana. Key components of SE+ include fidelity of implementation of the supported employment process, peer supports, expanded benefits information counseling, Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT), coaching to build local capacity, training and technical assistance, and an Integrated Resource Team approach. The IIDC’s Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) provides expanded benefits information counseling and FEAT training.