Social Dynamics (SD) is positioned at the nexus of a number of current national initiatives addressing the employment needs of individuals with disabilities and/or complex employment situations, including veterans. We have senior staff with extensive experience in research, evaluation and the development and implementation of national training, technical assistance (T/TA) and systems, organizational and program capacity building. Our team’s state, national, and international projects focus upon increasing employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities and those that are experiencing significant return to work barriers, including TANF recipients and people who are homeless. Our experience working with state disability services agencies, and Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Administration and Department of Labor-VETS programs, state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, and American Job Centers (AJCs), the Small Business Administration, Office of Disability Employment Policy and Employment and Training Administration as well as other federal agencies provides us with a unique perspective on effective, sustainable methods to increase the capacities of services systems and the employment capabilities of the people they serve.
We also develop and deliver training curricula in multi-modal formats including direct skills training in group sessions; on-line Communities of Practice; Webinars and on-line discussion forums; supplemented by guidebooks and topic-specific training tools and follow-along support. Training topics have included, but have not been limited to: entrepreneurship and self-employment for veterans and others; workforce flexibility for job seekers with disabilities, employer engagement, employment retention, customized employment and its components, supported, integrated employment evidence-based practices, aging into disability, workplace flexibility, workforce investment system programs and services, and the components of Ticket to Work (TTW) and its implementation in the American Job Centers (AJCs). Our team has worked internationally to address employment issues; managing projects and delivering training sessions in the Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, Bermuda, St. Maartens and the U.S. Pacific Territories. Representative capacity building and T/TA projects are listed below:
Focus: Addressing the Needs of Female Veterans who are Homeless. Senior SD staff were responsible for developing and delivering the first National Summit on Women Veterans who are Homeless, held over two days in 2013 in Chicago, Il. Using a dynamic combination of facilitated panel discussions, presentations, and ‘World Café’ topical working sessions, the 100+ audience of women veterans with lived experience of homelessness, federal DOL-VETS, VA, Labor and other representatives and field staff from these agencies and community based providers identified challenges and solutions for addressing women veteran homelessness. The results were compiled and disseminated in a national report; its findings referenced in a George Bush Institute report on veteran homelessness, and elements of the work were adapted to curricula used in training sessions given at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Conference and delivered in the field or virtually through webinar training through the National Veterans Technical Assistance Center (NVTAC). Consistent with developing training/TA using diverse methods, the Summit lessons were incorporated into a Women Veterans Community of Practice facilitated by NVTAC that convened DOL-VETS Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families (HFVVF) provider staff to exchange information
Focus: Customized Employment Tools for AJCs: Social Dynamics managed a comprehensive national policy and practice gaps analysis and developed training and technical assistance (T/TA) materials under contract to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on the use of Customized Employment (CE) by American Job Center (AJC) staff working with job-seekers with employment barriers. Social Dynamics was responsible for deploying its own subject matter experts (SMEs) and engaging other nationally recognized SMEs under sub-contract to develop over 30 separate training and technical assistance products that help AJC staff and partners to assist people with employment barriers to secure jobs through use of CE. Customized Employment is a validated method for helping people with significant employment barriers, including but not limited to disabilities, to develop work and career goals; identify personal barriers and facilitators to work; develop or strengthen supports services for employment; and obtain jobs. These products are intended to be used by AJC staff and partners operating within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) environment and also with employers as part of their employer engagement strategy. CE knowledge is critical for AJC partners given its specific reference within WIOA as an evidence-based practice for use with job seekers with barriers to employment. Our work also included creating a web-based repository of all publicly available CE policy and practice materials for dissemination to AJCs and their partners.
Focus: Employment and Entrepreneurship for Low-Income Individuals. Examples of our team’s direct experience working with individuals receiving TANF includes leading a partnership of the Department of Social Services, Public Housing Administration, the Department of Labor American Job Center, and the central agency for homeless assistance in the Capital Region of New York State to develop a Pathways to Employment Program and an Individual and Family Career Center located within the Albany Public Housing Authority. Through a three-year US Small Business Administration (SBA) PRIME project, individuals receiving public assistance, including those with disabilities, were provided with training, coaching and support to start their own businesses. This initiative was modeled after the US Department of Labor/Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)-funded ‘StartUP NY’ initiative that was proven successful in assisting people with diverse disabilities to become self-employed.
Focus: Improving Employment for People with Disabilities through Systems Change: Senior Social Dynamics staff co-directed New York State’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG) – “New York Makes Work Pay” from 2009-2012. The MIG was a comprehensive, statewide initiative to improve employment and economic stability for New Yorkers with disabilities. It worked at the systems level with multiple state agencies and produced a comprehensive Supported Employment shared data system; initiated dozens of regional and statewide Communities of Practice and Regional Forums; implemented a website http://www.nymakesworkpay.org/ that still features numerous toolkits, guidebooks and policy to practice briefs on evidence – based and promising employment practices, entrepreneurship, benefits planning, financial literacy and systems change, and provided T/TA to provider agency staff across the state on competitive, integrated employment practices.
If you are interested and want to know more about our Capacity Building and TA capabilities, Contact Gary Shaheen, MPA, ABD, Senior Director for Innovation and Applied Research: