About MNTAT Community Action Teams
Community Action Teams will be organized and trained to utilize flexible strategies and tactics to increase individualized employment opportunities for people with disabilities in their communities. MNTAT will establish up to five local Community Action Teams (CAT) over the next two years that represent systems, community organizations, schools, economic development, the employment community and job seekers that represent a cross section of disabilities. The CAT approach emphasizes that through collaborative efforts of a variety of interested stakeholders resources and strategies are better leveraged to support individual job seekers achieve their employment goals. The initial goal of each Community Action Team is to support five (5) individuals with varying disabilities to become employed*. In addition, the first sites will serve as living demonstrations of the CAT approach in Minnesota.
Project Description and Requirements
The Community Action Team will designate a lead organization or individual that will be responsible for managing the logistics connected with training, technical assistance and communication/correspondence. Lead organizations or individuals can be schools, counties, Workforce Investment Boards, Workforce Development Centers, advocacy groups, Centers for Independent Living, or providers. However, all Community Action Teams should include representation by the aforementioned stakeholder groups. CATs will be chosen to represent the diverse demographics of Minnesota and will include at least one urban, one rural and one tribal-based team.
The Community Action Teams will operate with a budget of $5000 in start up funds that can be used to aid in leveraging other local resources, underwrite tools and equipment, permits, training or other resources that help expedite individualized community based employment. The funds will be maintained by MNTAT and all expenses will be pre-approved. CATs will submit receipts or invoices for reimbursement.
The Community Action Teams will agree to hold monthly meetings that include on-line interactive sessions with MN TAT consultants. The monthly meetings will be used to provide updates on the project as well as problem solving and identifying training and technical assistance needs. In addition to the monthly on-line meetings, each CAT will work with MN TAT to develop an on-site training and technical assistance schedule. These will include 4-5 on-site visits by MN TAT consultants that consist of 1-day of classroom training and 2 days of field-based technical assistance to work directly with job seekers and their families and helping to coordinate local collaborations. Technical assistance will also assist with strategies to blend funding, assist with developing additional resources and do outreach to the local employment community.
The one-day classroom training will follow the ACRE (Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators) approved Customized Employment Training Curriculum that will be adapted to meet rules, procedures and conditions unique to Minnesota. Benefits analysis and planning will also be engaged to sustain income, protect health care and promote self-reliance.
Training and technical assistance will result in the creation of successful wage or self-employment for no fewer than 5 job seekers (representing a cross-section of disabilities) per site. Each successful employment outcome will demonstrate the use of replicable, evidence-based practices including: Discovery, Interest-based negotiation, strengths-based employment, blended funding and typical workplace supports.
Evaluation and Dissemination
Each CAT will report on progress during the monthly meetings. In addition a blog will be created for each CAT upon which a running dialogue will be posted that will include progress updates, new learning, and reports on effective practices as well as general sharing of information. Following each on-site training and technical assistance visit, the CAT will complete an evaluation of the processes, outcomes and learning that can be shared. The evaluations will be submitted to MN TAT to be compiled and shared quarterly and will be used to complete a final summary report at the conclusion of the project.
Community Action Teams will agree to become mentors to other developing CATs. They will also be required to submit a sustainability plan on how the practices and outcomes will continue in the future.
*For the purposes of this project employment will be defined as: “Regular or customized employment in the workforce on the payroll of a company (unless self-employed) at minimum or prevailing wages. Employment where integration and interaction with co-workers without disabilities and customers is assured.” the Minnesota Employment First Summit Consensus Report: www.mnapse.org/Employment-First-Report.pdf. Income targets for people becoming employed should be at or above SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity), which is $980 per month or $1,640 for people who are blind. More information on the SGA can be found at www.ssa.gov.