Nine federal agencies are coming together to encourage state and local governments to do more to ensure that people with disabilities can access and succeed in competitive integrated employment.

In a jointly issued “Dear Colleague” letter and an associated frequently asked questions document, the agencies are laying out what they say are best practices that localities can use to maximize funding and resources and ensure successful outcomes.

“With limited resources, a single government agency may find it difficult to provide the full range of services that meet all the needs of jobseekers with significant disabilities,” said Taryn M. Williams, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. “This joint communication helps state and local agencies understand that resources can and should be leveraged and used as an effective strategy in making competitive integrated employment a reality for those facing multiple barriers to employment.”

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The communications focus on three main strategies — blending, braiding and sequencing.

Blending brings money together from multiple sources that goes into one pot for a particular service or initiative. With braiding, funds from different places are kept separate, but used for a specific service. And sequencing is a strategy whereby multiple types of funds are used in a set order to help a person with a disability pursue, obtain or keep competitive integrated employment.

“Through blending, braiding and sequencing resources, all partners can share in the achievement of successful employment outcomes, while ensuring a seamless experience for the job seekers receiving services,” reads the five-page correspondence.

The letter is signed by officials from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Employment and Training Administration; the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration and Office of Special Education Programs; and the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy.

“Coordinating federal resources will help address the challenges youth with disabilities too often face as they transition from education to employment and reverse the historically low labor force participation rate of adults with disabilities that limits their opportunities to fully contribute as colleagues, business owners and taxpayers,” said Alison Barkoff, acting administrator at the Administration for Community Living and acting assistant secretary for aging.

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