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Home : Customized Employment : Grantee Accomplishments and Findings :

Alaska Customized Employment Project:
Service Integration

07/2007

Project Overview

Grant number, name, and location: Alaska Customized Employment Project, Juneau, AK, E-9-4-2-0090

Grant Recipient: Alaska Workforce Investment Board

Project Lead: Alaska Vocational Rehabilitation

Subcontractors: The University of Alaska (Evaluator), Employment for All, and Marc Gold and Associates (Training and Technical Assistance)

Key Lessons/Accomplishments

The Alaska Customized Employment Grant (CEG) based its practices in One-Stops, particularly the best practices of customized employment. In each of the five sites the grant was implemented in (Anchorage, Kenai, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Wassilla), there was a staff person whose duties revolved entirely around the CEG. He or she would coordinate customer customized employment services (Discovery, job search and negotiation, etc.) as well as the meetings and systems work that took place as a result of the grant. To better establish the principles of customized employment into One-Stops as a permanent feature, activities were channeled primarily through these individuals resulting in policy and systems changes. Without these important junctures, neither aspect of the project would have been as successful as it has been.

The Role of Project Staff

Alaska CEG project staff bear primary local responsibility for coordinating outreach, discovery, job search, and negotiation of employment conditions for project customers. They coordinate with Vocational Rehabilitation, other Workforce Investment Act and One-Stop services, and community providers, and they also work directly with customers.

As the key juncture between policy and practice, these individuals have been important to the local Redesign and Sustainability teams. CEG staff have helped to define the goals of the committees as well as the systems changes necessary to attain those goals. As such, they have had to occupy the dual roles of service providers and systems navigators.

Customized Employment Provision

A key strength of the Alaska Customized Employment Grant has been the ease with which systemic and policy work has been combined with effective and progressive customized services for individual job seekers. The success of the project's policy work has been due in large part to both the effectiveness of its work with individuals and the degree to which lessons learned from practice have been allowed to influence policy. The project has been particularly adept in its use of the following:

One-Stop Center Redesign Teams

In addition to providing or coordinating direct services, staff have played an essential role on the Center Redesign teams. In each project area, the redesign teams chose managers to assess the architecture of the One-Stop Career Center services. At some centers, major physical alterations to the facilities themselves were contemplated and, in some cases, implemented. At other centers, the methods and chronology of service were analyzed and then optimized to best meet the needs of each partner and its customers (click here for examples).

In Anchorage, the redesign team oversaw the expansion of the center into additional space within the same facility, including the relocation of various customer service staff and a redesign of the layout for customer intake (click here for more information). The team repositioned staff, facilities, and resources to suit customer patterns of movement and center usage rather than simply assigning the new space to a single group or going with the easiest staff re-arrangement.

And, following an examination of customer service in Wasilla, the team reassigned some greeting and frontline staff to identify customers' needs early in the One-Stop process. This initial assessment of needs, known to the project as triage, is of great value in routing customers to the appropriate services and ensuring that individuals in need of extra assistance do not 'slip through the cracks' of self-directed and Core services.

Coordinating with Local Community Providers

In Juneau, the project coordinator has been developing the One-Stop's relationship to small to mid-size community providers to ensure that the customized services they deliver continue to be an integral part of the One-Stop service system. By training and coordinating with these providers, this One-Stop, with funding from Vocational Rehabilitation, will continue to offer customized employment practices through its overall network of resources. Leads and relationships with employers are also shared between the center and community providers (also done in Anchorage under a similar arrangement), and plans are in place to allow employers a single point of contact with the system.

The Juneau model represents an important finding for One-Stops nationwide who struggle to incorporate the work of community groups into their efforts. The community service providers in Juneau contributed the following to the overall system:

The success of the model depends on a handful of features that, while not unique, are also not universally present in other systems. For this model to be replicable, the following foundational aspects, or their equivalents, need to be in place:

It is worth noting that none of this grant's accomplishments would have been possible without the center redesign and sustainability working groups' meeting regularly. It was at these meetings, more than anywhere else, that knowledge gained through direct experience in the field was effectively integrated with local and state policy concerns, bridging the gap that often exists between the two.

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