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February 02, 2023

MDHEWD joins national push to create jobs for people with disabilities

Missouri has been selected to participate in a national initiative aimed at increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) tapped Missouri, along with nine other states and Washington, D.C., to take part in the National Expansion Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative with the goal of increasing competitive integrated employment (CIE) for those with disabilities.

As a core state for the NEON initiative, Missouri was awarded 300 technical assistance hours that will include policy consulting and capacity building assistance.

“Being part of the NEON initiative will allow the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD), as well as other state agencies, to establish better policies for CIE and develop a plan for sustaining these efforts to ensure those with disabilities have equal employment opportunities,” said Julie Carter, interim director of the Office of Workforce Development.

Other states selected include California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

NEON launched in 2019 with the primary vision of providing technical assistance to national organizations. By expanding participation to state departments, NEON will be able to make advances at the state level. 

“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,” said Taryn Williams, assistant secretary for the USDOL Office of Disability Employment Policy. “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.”