Customized Self Employment Part II

DOL / VETS

Competitive Grantees Conference
Denver, Colorado – August, 7 2007
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Rich Toscano

National consultant to the Northeast Program Evaluation Center at Yale / New Haven on Evidence-based research initiatives for veterans with mental illness, substance abuse issues and spinal cord injuries Currently servicing as a Public Service Adjunct Faculty capacity at the University of Georgia – Institute on Human Development and Disability where he oversees the implementation of Olmstead related initiatives for Customized Employment, an ODEP/Workforce Action Grant sponsored by the Statewide Independent Living Center.

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Daria Pampaloni

PsychoSocial Rehabilitation Fellow at Yale School of Medicine currently working for the VA West Haven, CT campus as a Compensated Work Therapy/Supported Employment Specialist

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Resources / Services / Trends

Self-employment is a highly regarded and increasingly recognized CUSTOMIZED EMPLOYMENT option for persons who are disenfranchised and/or living with disabilities. DOL/ODEP has invested significant resources testing the viability of self employment for persons who have been on the margins of mainstream employment in urban and rural communities over the past five plus years.
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Elements of Customized (Self) Employment

Person-centered approach to the individual’s skills, preferences, unique contributions and motivations Analysis of the potential market or a creative “eye” for a unique service or product need Support network (Customized Employment Team) to:
   

Critique ideas Provide feedback and analysis Identify resources Run interference with “nay sayers”

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Stories from Veterans Business Owners Association West Haven, Connecticut
  

Discovery phase / exploration Design/consulting firm Ebay business

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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks

DOL/VETS working collaboratively with DOL/ODEP to expand VHA and VBA’s understanding and use of CE techniques:
 Self

Employment  Micro Enterprises  Entrepreneurial Ventures

Breakdown the silos
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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks

Better Utilization of Resources
 162

VAMCs currently operate CWT (compensated work therapy) programs with a focus on supported and/or customized employment  CWT provides protection of VA pensions; service connected and non-service connected pension while under the umbrella of CWT
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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks

For a Veteran with a Spinal Cord or Polytrauma Injury who might be receiving a service connected pension, that represents upwards of $6000/month that will not be reduced due to employment or entrepreneurial pursuit The same protection exists for Veterans with PTSD, BiPolar Disorder or Schizophrenia, although the SC and NSC percentages and amounts will vary widely
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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks…..
Tommy is a Desert Storm Veteran with a Spinal Cord Injury living in the Dallas area  Tommy and his family recently bought a house in a new development, having to negotiate accessibility with the builder to accommodate his wheelchair

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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks…..

During the voc assessment / discovery process, the Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist met a veteran in his community with an interest in accessible housing A well established real estate developer, known to one of the staff in the Spinal Cord Unit, was asked to join his employment planning team to discuss the viability of starting a consulting business on accessibility issues with local builders and developers

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Building Partnerships and Expanding the Networks …..

Tommy receives a service connected pension of $6500/month. He needs assistance in formalizing his customized / self employment idea. DOL/VETS, Disabled American Vets, could be poised to join this customized planning team to maximize resources, contacts and outcomes.

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Summary of Self Employment Process
       

Discovery of the Person Employment Plan resulting in potential Business Concepts Business Team Formed Research & Feasibility Benefit Planning Business Plan Initial Implementation Review, Revise, and Implement
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Understandings
Beginning and ending ideas  Owner issues vs. business issues  Financial package includes government supports  Long term supports vs. long term planning