Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE): A Report

 December 15, 2016
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hello everyone and welcome back to our blog today! We appreciate you taking time out of busy schedules to visit our website.

At M&L, we recognize the importance of employment in emotional, financial and social success. A significant amount of time and money are spent in our efforts to secure and support employment for our self-advocates. In a recently published blog we examined Vocational Rehabilitation, a federal program dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities overcome employment barriers.

In today’s post, we would like to continue to focus on employment by taking a look at a report released in fall 2016 by the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (known hereafter as the Committee). The Committee, established in September 2014, was comprised of 18 non-governmental members, such as advocates, self-advocates, providers of employment services, representatives of national disability advocacy organizations, experts with a background in academia, employer representatives and others with related expertise on CIE, and seven federal official members. (The appendix of the Final Report contains a full accounting of the committee, how it was formed, and member biographies.)

As its title suggests, the Committee’s focus was on “ways to increase employment participation of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) and other individuals with significant disabilities through opportunities for competitive integrated employment (CIE).”

Competitive Integrated Employment: What is it?

Competitive integrated employment (CIE) is work performed by a person with an impairment or health-related disability within an integrated setting. Wages are set at least at minimum wage or higher, and at a rate comparable to non-disabled workers performing the same tasks. In other words (to borrow a phrase from NTACT), competitive integrated employment is “real work for real pay.”

According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended by Title IV of 2014’s Workforce Investment Opportunities Act) CIE exists if individuals with disabilities are:

* Compensated at or above minimum wage (i.e. receive a competitive wage) that is equivalent to a wage received by individuals without disabilities doing the same tasks;

* Eligible for the same level of benefits as other employees;

* At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities (i.e. is integrated);

* Presented with opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities.

To learn more about CIE, please visit National Technical Assistance Center on Transition’s (NTACT) website.

The Report: Findings

After collaboration, the Committee issued a Final Report, which represents the “final consensus” of all involved, and includes a number of recommendations, focusing on the common theme of “capacity building”. Highlights of their findings include the following recommendations:

Overall Capacity Building: Prioritize federal funding, collect and analyse data for recipients of this funding based on CIE definition, train professionals to facilitate CIE opportunities, and develop an interagency task force for CIE development.

Capacity Building for Youth: Focus on capacity building specifically for youth through early work experiences, involvement of personal support networks, professional development and training, and increased use of assistive technology.

Capacity Building through Changes in Use and Oversight of 14(c) Certificates: 14 (c) certificates refer to certificates that allow employers to pay individuals with disabilities subminimum wages. The Committee recommends that this be phased out, and that the US Dept. of Labor be involved in stronger oversight of this certificate. They also recommend that the federal government assist states with providing CIE services as alternatives to those provided under programs using a 14 (c) certificate.

Building Capacity in the Marketplace: The Committee suggests that CIE opportunities can be cultivated in the marketplace through the following: outreach and communication, business oriented CIE professional development, developing incentives for providing work experiences as a prelude to employment, providing accessible transportation, developing hiring initiatives, and through revisions to tax initiatives and credits for CIE participating employers, facilitated by the interagency CIE task forces.

The Committee also recommended that by involving specific federal agencies in partnerships and complementary actions among multiple agencies, as well as reforming the AbilityOne® program, CIE opportunities will be greatly increased.

For more information on the above recommendations, as well as the comprehensive findings of the committee, the full Final Report is available.

The Report’s Significance

Although this report may not provide immediate, step-by-step assistance in helping individuals with disabilities find Competitive Integrated Employment, at M&L we feel that it is incredibly important to stay abreast of federal policy in regards to issues that are of importance to the disability community. By staying informed of policies, as well as remaining up to date on policy changes, we are able to identify and advocate for new policies that are of benefit to individuals with disabilities and fight against those that aren’t.

As written in the report, bringing the concept of CIE into policies affecting the marketplace, service providers, and agencies, will help “create a critical pathway to better economic futures and increased economic self-sufficiency for youth and adults with disabilities.” That, in a nutshell, is why this report and all activities related to increasing CIE opportunities are so crucial. Here at ILO, we will monitor the effect that this report has on any existing CIE policies, and keep you updated as to any policy changes that may result.

As always, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know how to access CIE opportunities for your family members with disabilities.

Taking Actions

The Final Report suggestions will involve a lot of work if they are to be even partially realized. As activists in the caregiving field, we realize we cannot rely solely on the federal government to fill all of the needs for change. Much will rely on state and local governments, as well as partnerships with local agencies, religious institutions, businesses, schools and individuals. There are many branches to this tree. Here are some possible ways to become active in bringing the Committee’s recommendations into your community. You can’t do it all. But if you act on one, that can make a difference.

  1. Overall Capacity Building. This category seems aimed at professionals, such as those in agencies, schools or licensed health care professionals, who should include CIE as an option in their training and services.
  1. Capacity Building for Youth: As parents and caregivers of individuals with disabilities, a proactive approach to CIE can begin when we start to plan for transitioning; bringing this report to schools can help to encourage more workplace experiences, internships, and career training programs.
  1. Change 14c certificates. Consider contacting the contact the US Labor Department and advocate for stronger oversight of this certificate program. Investigate your state’s use of 14c certificates and encourage moving to CIE instead. Our role as advocates for our family members with disabilities can and should include ensuring that the marketplace is more aware of CIE than of the 14c certificates.
  1. Building Incentives in the Marketplace. What are the incentives for businesses to develop CIE practices? What are the realities of employment for individuals with disabilities in your community? Is there a company that stands out? Help to recognize and support that business. Bring information about CIE to your own workplace or any businesses you use frequently. Become the outreach coordinator!

Would you Like More Information?

Again, on behalf of everyone at M&L, we thank you for taking the time to visit our website and learn about the importance of creating and advocating for competitive, integrated employment opportunities for all individuals with disabilities. Again, to borrow a phrase from NTACT, competitive integrated employment is a realistic and desirable expectation for ALL – including individuals with disabilities.To learn more about CIE, please contact us.

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