Project CASE “Creating Access to Successful Employment”
Project CASE in Kentucky intends to increase participation in Career Pathways for individuals with disabilities. Under Project CASE, we will build and expand on the current Career Pathways program components that align to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board’s targeted sectors of Information Technology, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology, and Healthcare/Nursing & Allied Health, and examine what specific strategies or mix of strategies are most effective in serving individuals with disabilities.
The grant will provide direct services to individuals in the 7 counties of Metro Louisville (KentuckianaWorks) and more rural 23 counties of Eastern Kentucky (Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program- EKCEP). This project will address new levels of outreach, and flexible and innovative training and postsecondary approaches for both students and youth.
Kentucky Office for the Blind (OFB) and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) will establish and expand our partnerships with state agencies, which include our WIOA partners, to establish long-term relationships. This will lead to both an increase in the participation of people with disabilities in existing Career Pathways, and to long-term engagement with state partners and employers to ensure that these individuals remain at the front of policy decisions to support education and career outcomes.
Our approach is multi-pronged. We will build staff capacity of Career Center Staff and partners to offer critical workforce development services under the new WIOA definitions with a strong career pathways focus. Professional development activities will focus on financial literacy certification and comprehensive career counseling through a career pathway lens. In addition, interagency training opportunities will focus on building relationships among partners, understanding Career and Technical Education and Community and Technical College pathways, defining partnership roles and responsibilities, and enhancing soft skill and job readiness curriculums at our state rehabilitation centers. By adding six (6) dedicated Career Pathway Coordinators in the two workforce areas, we increase our capacity in reaching employers who can provide work experiences such as job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and, ultimately, job placement. These Coordinators will also serve as liaisons between OVR and OFB counseling and assistive technology staff and secondary and postsecondary education institutions by increasing provision of supportive services that enhance training completion and job acquisition in high demand, skilled professions.
American Institutes of Research (AIR) will provide program evaluation for the project. AIR will monitor implementation of the grant, as well as gather outcome data on the distinct number of career pathways accessed or created, the number of VR-eligible individuals who achieve employment within each of the project’s pathways, and the increase in weekly wages and benefits as compared to non-participating eligible individuals.