Kentucky Alignment of Employment Initiativess

Kentucky Alignment of Employment Initiative

The Kentucky Work Matters task force was created in 2017 by Executive Order and included representatives from every area of Kentucky’s state government related to workforce development along with representatives from the private sector. It has addressed barriers to employment and promoted workforce inclusion for people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, individuals with substance use issues, and individuals with criminal records. The Work Matters Final Report was delivered in May 2018 and led to the Employment First Executive Order.

The Kentucky Employment First Council was created by the Employment First Executive Order on May 15, 2018. The 27-member group consists of people with disabilities, family members, employers, state agency representatives, and provider agencies. Employment First is the principal that everyone, including people with significant disabilities, can work in competitive integrated employment. Kentucky’s Executive Order states “…competitive and integrated employment in the community shall be considered the first and primary option for persons with disabilities of working age who have communicated a desire to become employed.” Subcommittees of the Council are: Advocacy, Providers, Employer Engagement, and Transition. Click for more information on the first meeting of the Employment First Council.

The KentuckyWorks Collaborative was created in January, 2019 by Executive Order to guide the implementation of the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board’s (KWIB) strategic plan. The 18-member collaborative includes members from federal agencies, local workforce boards, and employers. The KentuckyWorks Collaborative will set a common strategic direction, prioritize implementation actions, increase communication among stakeholders, and identify challenges and opportunities in implementation. Click for more information about the KentuckyWorks Collaborative.

RETAIN Kentucky* is one of eight state federal Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) demonstration grants. The RETAINing Kentucky’s Workforce through Universal Design (RKW-UD) pilot will focus on using early, coordinated health and employment services to prevent long-term unemployment due to injury or illness caused by events off of a job. RETAIN is led by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in partnership with the department’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration. In the second phase, four of the pilots will be chosen to implement their models. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is the lead agency for the project. Phase 1 of the grant will start a 10 month pilot project in June 2019 in the KentuckianWorks area. Kentucky plans on applying for Phase 2 of the grant which would allow for projects to expand to other areas of the state.

KentuckyWorks* Partnerships in Employment State Systems Change Grant (PIE) is a 5 year grant that began in 2016. The goals of the PIE Grant are to improve employment outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to raise awareness and the expectation that people with significant disabilities can contribute to the workforce. PIE exists through interagency partnerships, collaborative professional development, and statewide information sharing to schools, professionals, students, families, and employers. Visit for more information.

Educate, Empower, Employ* (Project E3) – The Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Targeted Communities (VRTAC-TC) is designed to improve employment outcomes for persons with disabilities from traditionally marginalized communities. Kentucky is one of twelve partner states to receive intensive and focused technical assistance. In Kentucky, the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI) and partners will work with transition aged youth and adults with mental illness to improve access to vocational rehabilitation services within economically disadvantaged rural and remote communities in Breathitt, Jackson, Lee, Rockcastle and Wayne counties. Click for more information about Project E3 in Kentucky.

The Community Work Transition Program* (CWTP) provides targeted pre-employment transition services to students and promotes successful movement into competitive integrated employment. The CWTP helps students with disabilities gain skills and obtain resources to be career ready through services provided by an Employment Specialist and/or school personnel. The Kentucky Department of Education, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky partnered to create CWTP. Click for more information on the Community Work Transition Program (CWTP).

The Supported Employment Training Project* (SETP) conducts trainings and offers technical assistance for supported employment providers who assist people with significant disabilities obtain and maintain good jobs. A project of the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky, SETP collaborates with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Click to learn more about the Supported Employment Training Project (SETP).

The HB144 Employment Subcommittee is a subcommittee of the HB144 Commission, which advises the Governor and General Assembly about the service system that impacts the lives of people with developmental disabilities. The HB144 Employment Subcommittee seeks to address employment and employment related issues for persons with developmental disabilities. The subcommittee includes of members representing state agencies, service providers, advocacy agencies, lawmakers, and people with developmental disabilities. The subcommittee seeks to identify steps to create an efficient employment system that is supportive of people with developmental disabilities obtaining meaningful employment in the Commonwealth. Click for more information on the HB144 Employment Subcommittee.

The Individual Placement and Support Project* is an evidence-based practice that helps people with behavioral health conditions work at community jobs of their choosing. In Kentucky, the Individual Placement and Support Project is a partnership between the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky, the Division of Behavioral Health and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.  Click for more information on Individual Placement and Support Project.

The Coalitions for Workforce Diversity are alliances of companies, service providers and individuals working together in communities to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities. There are three Coalitions now with the Louisville Coalition for Workforce Diversity being the original and largest in the state.  There is also the Bluegrass Coalition for Workforce Diversity in Lexington and the Gateway Coalition for Workforce Diversity in Morehead.  Each coalition is guided by the need to match local employers to the local pool of job searchers with disabilities and to provide supports to both employers and employees to assist in job training and retention. Click here for more information on the Louisville Coalition for Workforce Diversity.

Project CASE* focuses on Manufacturing, Healthcare and Information Technology as three promising Career Pathways for Kentuckians seeking training and employment in jobs that are in-demand, pay family-sustaining wages, and have opportunities for advancement.  Project CASE was created to increase the numbers of individuals with disabilities who are training and working in these fields by finding and/or developing flexible and innovative training and postsecondary approaches to skill attainment. This effort is funded by a Rehabilitation Services Administration grant in the KentuckianaWorks and EKCEP regions of the state.

Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers* (ISAW) is a collaborative project by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Kentucky Office of Autism, administered by the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute. The purpose of the project is to support Business Service Teams and human resources managers across the state in their effort to assist employers in working with employees on the autism spectrum by providing in-person trainings, online modules, and ongoing technical assistance. Click for more information on ISAW.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) requires the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to spend at least 15% of their federal VR funds to provide Pre-Employment Training Services (Pre-ETS) to high school students ages 14-21 with an IEP, 504 plan, or documentation of a disability.  These services can include job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, workplace readiness training, post-secondary counseling and instruction in self-advocacy. OVR contracts with partners to ensure that these services are available to students statewide.  These partners include the regional education cooperatives, the Community Work Transition Program (CWTP), community rehabilitation providers, Jobs for Kentucky’s graduates (JAG KY), and the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS).

The Social Security Administration (SSA)’s voluntary “Ticket to Work” Program supports SSA beneficiaries who want to find, enter and retain employment. Ticket to Work participants select an employment services provider or Employment Network (EN) to provide a range of services to help in this endeavor.  ENs can be public or private, and contract with SSA to provide services and receive payments when Ticket holders reach certain milestones or outcomes related to employment goals. More ENs are needed to expand long term capacity for supports in Kentucky. In some states, local workforce boards have developed successful EN programs.

The Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation exists to help people with disabilities obtain employment and independence. Vocational Rehabilitation serves people in all 120 counties of the Commonwealth, and works across many of the employment initiatives in this list.

*Grant or contract funded

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