The Disability:IN NC Employment Collaborative  was funded by the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) in 2019 as an initiative to bring partner agencies and stakeholders together to  focus on statewide strategies to expand the participation of job seekers with disabilities with  the NCWorks Career Centers.

The North Carolina Unified State Plan mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was created to focus on areas of the Unified State Plan that have significant impact on the competitive integrated employment opportunities for individuals with I/DD and other disabilities.

High unemployment rates among people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are caused by complex, deeply entrenched social problems that cannot be solved by government agencies, service providers, businesses or individuals acting in isolation.

Partner agencies and stakeholders in this initiative include the  NC Department of Commerce,  the  NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC Community College System and local Workforce Development Boards, businesses leaders, community employment agencies and stakeholders with disabilities. Using a Collective Impact *approach, the partner agencies  align their joint employment support and capacity development strategies to expand employment opportunities for citizens with disabilities in all regions of the state.

Disability:IN North Carolina, was the lead agency for this initiative during  the three- year funding cycle with the NCCDD. Going forward DI-NC continues to lead quarterly meetings of the collaborative partners, known as the NC Employment Collaborative Council following the sunset of the NCCDD grant. The Disability:IN NC ( DI-NC) Employment Collaborative focuses on expanding disability employment and inclusion through improving:

  • disability accessibility and accommodations,
  • education & awareness training,
  • business and stakeholder engagement,
  • accountability measures and;
  • systems change issues.

Implementation Strategies

DI-NCEC uses  several strategies to expand disability inclusion and employment including:

  • Hosting NCWorks training presentations as part of the annual DI-NC Fall Conference.
  • Conducting special training events (virtually and in person) for NCWorks Career Center staff, business leaders, employment provider agencies and other stakeholders on disability employment strategies.
  • Creating and managing a Disability & Inclusion Toolkit on the DI-NC website (as described below).

*Collective Impact Approach:  The collective impact approach hinges on the idea that for organizations to create lasting solutions to social problems on a large-scale, they need to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal. The approach of collective impact is placed in contrast to “isolated impact,” where organizations primarily work alone to solve social problems and draws on earlier works on collaborative leadership, focused on collective goals, strategic partnerships, collective and independent action aligned with those goals, shared accountability, and a backbone organization. Collective impact is based on organizations forming cross-sector coalitions to make meaningful and sustainable progress on social issues. (Wikipedia, 2019).

Introduction to the Toolkit on Disability Employment & Inclusion

The toolkit was created to encourage job seekers with disabilities to seek assistance from their local NCWorks Center. The toolkit focuses on resources, articles and information about employment related topics and strategies. The core audience for the toolkit includes:

  • NC Works Career Center Staff
  • Employers and Businesses seeking talent among job seekers with disabilities
  • Job Seekers with disabilities who are not eligible or do not choose to use vocational rehabilitation services
  • Job Seekers who are eligible for or use vocational rehabilitation services and want to expand their job search via NC Works Career Centers or other job search strategies.
  • Employment agencies and services seeking information to expand their disability employment outcomes.

The toolkit focuses primarily on  job seeking strategies and resources that may be of benefit to the core audience that are available at no cost. DI-NC will continue to update the site with more current information and resources. DI-NC  welcomes ideas  from readers to keep the toolkit current.