Since 2010, the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy has jointly funded and administered the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI). DEI is designed to help states implement strategic approaches for exemplary employment services to individuals with disabilities in the public workforce system. DEI projects are intended to support extensive partnerships, collaboration and service coordination across multiple workforces, education, and disability systems in each state. As part of their commitment to assist individuals with disabilities in reaching their career, employment, and training goals, The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (Commerce) executes DEI through coordination with and support of the state, regional, and local partners. In Illinois, DEI aims to improve education, training and employment opportunities and outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits.
Commerce hosted 2 DEI Summits serving different areas of the state, Northern & Southern. Illinois’ DEI summits were used to bring together WIOA Title I and Vocational Rehabilitation providers and stakeholders to explore best practices for system alignment. The summits focused on strategies for engaging individuals with disabilities through integrated, cooperative approaches between staff within the American Job Center (Illinois WorkNet Center) System.