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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Update on the CareerACCESS Initiative: Our Careers Now!

CareerACCESS is a policy initiative with NCIL’s Subcommittee on Employment and Social Security, the World Institute on Disability, and PolicyWorks to eliminate barriers to employment for young adults with disabilities 18 to 30 years of age (PDF).

The effort seeks reforms in SSI and Medicaid to make it easier to receive necessary guidance and supports in finding employment while managing benefits. Since it involves a radical overhaul of a punishing means-tested system that is more complex than most know how to navigate, we propose that CareerACCESS start as pilot projects to be tested in 5 states. The core group pushing this initiative forward has been hard at work over the last several months, and it looks like things are slowly coming together.

CareerACCESS logo - Career ACCESSEverything great begins with solid conversations, and there has been quite a lot of conversation about CareerACCESS lately. Webinars are being organized in Tennessee, Maine, and Nebraska, where we will meet with leaders to understand the political climates of the states and to figure out if and how we might get pilot programs going. We have also begun talking to the vocational rehabilitation director in Massachusetts. The state of Vermont will be bringing representatives from our core group to come out in March to lead discussions on CareerACCESS towards a strategy for implementation. We are also presenting to the California Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities on March 10.

The immediate goal of all these conversations is to mobilize interest, dialog and political will for our initiative. A key part of the strategy involves leaders and stakeholders in the states where we are trying to set up pilot projects. We need states, along with the advocates in the state of Michigan, to ask Congress for an appropriation of money for FY2017 to set up pilot projects that include waiving asset limits and changing the current income rules in SSI and Medicaid.

Of course, the more people with disabilities who become involved in the conversation, the better, which is how you can help. If you know any legislative representatives from any of the states named above, please educate them about CareerACCESS. If you are a young adult, from anywhere in the United States, and this initiative speaks to you in some way, we want to get to know you. Contact us through the NCIL Subcommittee on Employment and Social Security, or at CareerACCESS; let’s grow the conversation.

For more information, contact Justin Harford at justinh@freed.org or Bryon MacDonald at bryon@wid.org.

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