San Diego Workforce Partnership:
Partnership and Collaborative Efforts
Grant number, name and location: Customized Employment - 01, San Diego, CA, E-9-4-1-0081
Grant recipient: San Diego Workforce Partnership, Inc.
Project Lead: San Diego Workforce Partnership, Inc.
Subcontractors: Five One-Stop Centers (Escondido , San Diego , and El Cajon ); Access Center (an assistive technology technical assistance resource center); and the University Center on Excellence on Disabilities (UCED) at San Diego University. Early on, the grantee subcontracted most of its activities to Community Service Providers (Goodwill and Able/Disabled primarily), but radically changed its structure after two years to internalize the activities of the grant in its own system.
- Partnerships allow for expansion of WIA services
- Co-location at One-Stops was seen as inherently beneficial to community providers
- Types and styles of effective collaboration vary by size of community
- Knowledge of partner systems and policies contributes to strong collaboration
As the San Diego Customized Employment Project has been implemented across a number of One-Stops, the layout of local partnerships is different at each facility. However, all facilities have strengthened existing partnerships and built new ones as a result of the grant.
Overall Community Resources
The San Diego project has partners with a number of community rehabilitation providers, including Goodwill, Able/Disabled, the Workability Project, and the Access Center. The grant project has given One-Stop staff the need and the opportunity to learn about these resources. For example, as staff in each center has been responsible for direct case management, they have been called upon to work with community resources like the Access Center. One-Stop staff has learned the most expedient way to gather information and what type of issues each resource is best equipped to handle (click here for more information). Had the centers not been called on to take direct (as opposed to subcontracted) responsibility for their customers, the staff would never have learned to navigate these resources.
This same principle applies to the system's overall relationship to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). Though each center has developed its own particular relationship with VR, each system as a whole is generally more aware and knowledgeable of the other than before.
In addition, an increased association between the One-Stop centers and the regional centers, the local case-management arm of the Development Disabilities Systems, through State Health and Human Services, has developed. The two are typically distinct throughout the state and have had little previous cause to interact. However, numerous statewide information sessions have begun to bring the two together.
The importance of these relationships is the degree to which they augment the innate ability of One-Stops to deliver services to a wide range of individuals. By partnering with community rehabilitation providers, the One-Stop's own capacity is increased. While grant funding served as a catalyst for this collaboration, the funding will not be necessary to perpetuate it nor to replicate it elsewhere in the state.
The following are examples of partnership that have occurred in local areas throughout the course of the grant's operation:
North County (Escondido, CA)
The One-Stop in Escondido, the northernmost outpost of the San Diego system, is a small office that will shortly be merging with the local Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) system, known as CalWORKS. This merger should drastically increase both the size of the center and the number of customers with significant needs making use of its services.
In addition to building a strong relationship with Vocational Rehabilitation, the Escondido office has strengthened its ties with the Workability Project. Workability is a progressive transition project operated through the public school system that uses both school and VR dollars. It operates on multiple levels, assisting students in their transition to work or to technical or secondary education.
Through the course of the grant, Workability has chosen to station an employment specialist in the One-Stop office. While the grant was an important factor in Workability's choice to do so, the grant is not the reason it is choosing to stay. Since moving to the One-Stop, Workability's specialist reports that it is far easier for her to disseminate information to the community, interact with other agencies, and work with her current customers than before. Furthermore, she states that the resources available at the One-Stop are indispensable to staging effective job searches. Both she and her customers take advantage of the job boards, the computer lab, and the various classes occurring within the system. As an employment specialist, she says that what was once a burdensome effort to both manage cases and build employer relationships is now far simpler - and far more effective for her clients.
The Escondido One-Stop, which has a part-time Disability Program Navigator, is also glad to have Workability on site as a partner who is open to informal requests for assistance and guidance.
East County (El Cajon, CA)
El Cajon is a suburb to the east of San Diego and, like Escondido, a largely independent community. Whereas many One-Stops are linked to the larger City of San Diego workforce system, these One-Stops are bound to their own smaller communities.
Staff at the El Cajon One-Stop report that they have been a "One-Stop" longer than the term has existed. Founded more than 25 years ago under the CETA legislation, the El Cajon center reports having been a collaborative entity partnering with multiple systems throughout its history. Nevertheless, the Customized Employment Grant has both strengthened its relationship with Vocational Rehabilitation and provided staff with helpful training and experience in providing direct services.
Services are provided primarily by a One-Stop staff person, but in collaboration with other staff, community partners, and partners in Vocational Rehabilitation. Trainings offered by the University of San Diego have assisted all staff to establish a useful baseline of service in both Core and Intensive Services delivery.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of the grant has been how it has strengthened the working relationship between Vocational Rehabilitation counselors and One-Stop staff. Now both have had experience jointly managing cases and have a better sense of each other's mandates. Each system, nationally, often views the other suspiciously, due to misunderstandings of each other's rules, regulations, and procedures. But in East County, staff from both worlds report having a better sense of the other's system and of why and under what circumstances each would call for assistance or make a referral. Vocational Rehabilitation staff have also been stationed at the El Cajon One-Stop and provide services, trainings, and assistance there.