Tags Posts tagged with "L&I"


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The PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has developed a draft of the Employment Supports Policy. The draft will be posted on OVR’s website for public review beginning March 13, 2023. Virtual meetings will also be held via Zoom at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, to provide an overview of the policy and take questions and comments (content will be the same in both meetings).

The public is invited to comment on the draft policy for 30 days. Comments may be directed via email through April 11, 2023.

Meeting information:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. CART and sign language interpreters will be available for these meetings via the Zoom link. Additional auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Please send your request electronically.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has the following grant opportunities that are currently available:

Pennsylvania Industry Partnership Program (IP) Grant:

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) announces the availability of approximately $4,000,000 in funding for the Pennsylvania Industry Partnership (IP) Program Grant awards. L&I will be supporting Industry Partnership Programming through the competitive award of grants of up to $250,000 to support Industry Partnerships across the commonwealth to improve economic growth, while preparing workers with training for their current positions and future advancement. Projects funded through Industry Partnership grants should identify workforce, education and training, and economic development gaps; coordinate regional needs to support industry needs; identify public and community resources to address industry-identified needs; and increase collaboration among businesses within a targeted industry sector. Eligible applicants include local workforce development boards, non-profit and non-governmental entities, community-based organizations, educational and post-secondary educational organizations, labor organizations, business associations, and economic development entities.

More information can be found here, including info on an upcoming bidder webinar on 10/6/22. The IP grants close on 10/28/22. If you have questions or concerns regarding this grant opportunity, please email L&I.

Schools-to-Work Program (STWP) Grant — Round 3:

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) announces the availability of approximately $2,500,000.00 of funding for the Schools-to-Work Program (STWP) Grant award(s). L&I will be establishing a STW Program through the competitive award of a grant(s) to a sponsor(s) in partnership with schools in the commonwealth to support the establishment or enhancement of a workforce development partnership between schools, employers, organizations, or associations to create pre-apprenticeship apprenticeship pathways. This NGA seeks applications to support this statewide initiative. Grant awards may not exceed $250,000.00.

L&I also has funding currently available for school-to-work program grants. The STWP grant closes on 10/12/22. If you have questions or concerns regarding this grant opportunity, please email L&I.

If you have further questions, please contact your RCPA Policy Director.

Message from the Department of Human Services (DHS):

Harrisburg, PA — Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier and Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead today announced the Wolf Administration’s goal of using a $14 million federal grant to help Pennsylvanians with disabilities earning subminimum wage transition to competitive, integrated employment.

“Individuals with disabilities contribute their valuable skills, talents, time, energy and perspectives to Pennsylvania’s dynamic economy every day in professions and industries as diverse as our population. They deserve the same protections as all other workers, including the right to earn at least minimum wage for their work,” Secretary Berrier said. “The Wolf Administration will use this funding to help individuals with disabilities and their families learn about and take advantage of opportunities in competitive, integrated employment. There can and should be a role for everyone who wants to and is able to work, and we are grateful to those employers who have already committed to providing competitive, integrated employment.”

Pennsylvania is one of 14 states to receive grant awards from the federal Department of Education for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project. L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and DHS’s Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) will use the funding to develop a five-year plan to support Pennsylvanians with disabilities in transitioning out of subminimum-wage employment — including more than 5,400 people who currently work in “sheltered workshops,” most of whom have intellectual disabilities or autism — as well as students and youth with disabilities seeking to enter competitive, integrated employment (CIE).

“There can be an end to the subminimum wage exception for individuals with disabilities, but it is incumbent on all of us to make that happen. Workplaces should examine their policies to see which ones are outdated or intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against individuals with disabilities,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism are vital members of our society and of our workforces, and DHS is proud to support opportunities to help them find gainful competitive integrated employment. We are grateful to the federal government for this grant so we can continue this work.”

The practice of paying individuals with disabilities subminimum wage is legal under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, a federal law. In September 2020, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for an end to subminimum wage in a report, saying that the program has been “inconsistent with the civil rights protections to which people with disabilities are entitled.” To date, several states have, or are in the process of, ending subminimum wage for people with disabilities or are in the process of phasing it out.

The federal grant will fund Pennsylvania’s Integrated Vocational Engagement and Supports Team (InVEST) Project, a wraparound model for assisting individuals with disabilities — including those considering or currently engaged in employment at subminimum wage — their families and employers, to move from subminimum wage employment to competitive, integrated employment.

The project aligns with the commonwealth’s Employment First philosophical approach that CIE be the first and preferred option and will enhance the commonwealth’s existing network of community rehabilitation service providers by allocating additional resources for staff who will work directly with CIE employers proactively engaged in supporting employees with disabilities and creating a culture of accommodation for all employees. These employer liaisons and employment specialists will be embedded with CIE employers to support employees with disabilities, facilitate communication, create a smooth hiring process, and provide on-the-job supports to ensure success. An interdisciplinary and collaborative resource team will anticipate and respond to the SWTCIE participants’ employment-related needs.

The Wolf Administration encourages all employers to consider learning more about this topic and becoming involved in Employment First, which requires any group receiving public funding to ensure that employment is the main focus for education, training, or support services for anyone with a disability who is eligible to work. Employers can explore opportunities to enhance their workforce by hiring people with disabilities who are invaluable members of our communities, workforce, and economy.

Harrisburg, PA — For the first time since 1994, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) will reopen the order of selection (OOS) to significantly disabled (SD) and non-significantly disabled (NSD) individuals, terminating the waitlist for all SD and NSD applicants seeking vocational rehabilitation services. The change goes into effect today, August 8.

L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) assists Pennsylvanians with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment while keeping their independence. Since 2016, nearly 370,000 individuals have received services from OVR, including vocational counseling, evaluations, medical diagnostic services, medical restoration services, employment training, placement services, and career support services.

Under federal law, the OOS occurs when there are limited resources to provide vocational rehabilitation services. The OOS allows state vocational rehabilitation programs without adequate funding or staff to provide services to customers who qualify on a priority basis, by category. By law, the highest priority must be given to customers with the most significant disabilities.

“Every individual should have the opportunity to pursue their passion, earn a living wage and build wealth in Pennsylvania,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “OVR makes this possible for individuals with disabilities by connecting them to employers who wisely recognize the value of employing people with different backgrounds and experiences — and who make their workplace open to all through reasonable accommodation.”

Due to the decrease in economic activity during the pandemic, OVR has a surplus of federal funding available to remove the waitlist and use those unspent resources to serve more Pennsylvanians.

The removal of the waitlist for services expands participation in OVR services, along with more in-demand services, such as counseling and training. Over the last year, almost 55,000 individuals benefitted from those services.

“Our goal with this process has always been to serve people with disabilities by giving them the tools they need to obtain and maintain employment,” said OVR Acting Executive Director Ryan Hyde. “Removing the OOS allows us to serve more Pennsylvanians with disabilities, aiding them on their journey to be successfully and gainfully employed.”

Individuals currently on the waitlist for groups SD and NSD will be notified by their vocational rehabilitation counselors that they will be able to access services as of August 8. New, eligible customers seeking services in groups SD and NSD will be able to receive services without waiting. This change is effective through June 30, 2023, when OVR will review the fiscal outlook and decide whether the services to all groups can remain open, without the waitlist, beyond this date. On July 1, 2021, OVR reopened the OOS for individuals with a Most Significant Disability (MSD), eliminating the waitlist for any MSD applicants.

Determination of MSD, SD, or NSD is by the following criteria:

  • An individual with a most significant disability has a disability that results in serious functional limitations in three or more functional capacity areas.
  • An individual with a significant disability has a disability that results in serious functional limitations in at least one functional capacity area.
  • An individual with a non-significant disability is determined eligible for the OVR program but does not meet the MSD or SD requirements.

For more information on OVR services, visit your local OVR office or apply for OVR services online via PA CareerLink®.

Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay

Solicitation of Public Comment on the Pennsylvania Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Combined State Plan for 2020—2024

[51 Pa.B. 7805]
[Saturday, December 11, 2021]

PA L&I WIOA 2022 Update Link & Information to Offer Comments From December 20, 2021 Through January 18, 2022

Some disability areas for possible commentary include:

  • OVR: District Offices, Pre Employment Transition, Services, under/un served populations (specific disabilities of groups; ESL issues (Spanish, Chinese, Russian languages, etc.), collaboration with other state agencies (PA DHS for OLTL, OMHSAS and ODP populations; PDE-Bureau of Special Education);
  • PA Career Links (including physical & programmatic accessibility, which are required under the Federal WIOA passed in 2014 with 2016 regulations put forth);
  • Home or vehicle modifications (policies, process, and waiting lists);
  • Deaf Blind Services (SSP), which are state funds only at this time (no federal funding); and
  • Movement away from sheltered workshops and segregated employment settings towards competitive employment per Federal guidance put forth earlier this year.

You can also see more from the Federal Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) on what they are looking for from states.