WorkFORCE Action Grant in Vancouver, WA:
Partnership and Collaborative Efforts
Grant number, name, and location: WorkFORCE Action Grant 03, Vancouver, WA, #E-9-4-3-0074
Grant recipient: Columbia River Mental Health Services
Project lead: Gregory Robinson/Melodie Pazolt, Columbia River Mental Health Services
Subcontractors: Southern Washington Workforce Development Council (SWWDC), Keys to Advancement, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Service Master, Community Empowerment Project, and the Wakiukum Project.
- Previous collaborative efforts and partnership contributed to a strong basis for the joint work of Clearview and Southern Washington Workforce Development Council (SWDDC) and led to the co-location of Clearview direct service staff at the One-Stop.
- While originally partnerships were informal, as Clearview's relationship with SWWDC developed, formal resource sharing agreements were established.
- The SWDDC created an Investment Grid to use as a conceptual tool to communicate valued outcomes with the One-stop staff and the board. This included serving individuals with barriers to employment such as disabilities.
Clearview Employment Services of Columbia River Mental Health (a community rehabilitation provider - herein referred to as "Clearview") and the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council (the LWIB) and its One-Stop, are the primary partnership. In addition, the subcontract with Keys to Advancement was established for the recruitment of persons with developmental disabilities to the project. The partnership with the Wakiukum project was established in order to support the employment needs of persons in rural areas. The Community Empowerment Project provided training and focus group services. Evaluation and to some extent training for the project was provided by UMDNJ. Service Master was originally brought in for small business development.
Although sub-contractors were clearly chosen because of their expertise, the key collaborative partnership that has contributed most significantly to the progress of the grant is that between Clearview and the SWWDC and its One-Stop (WorkSource). Clearview is the lead agency in the grant, coordinator of the entire effort, and lends its expertise on employment services for persons with serious mental illnesses. The partnership originated primarily with this grant, although a relationship existed previously. It has both formal and informal aspects including shared or co-located staff on a part-time or full-time basis at the WorkSource.
The cohesive relationship between SWDDC and Clearview was built on a series of specific collaborative activities. Initially, they jointly attended meetings around a variety of initiatives. One example was the Healthcare Initiative (addressing the shortage of jobs in healthcare and social services), which coincided with Clearview's OHSU DOL project to promote individuals with disabilities accessing Social Service and Health care jobs. Regular WorkSource Partnership meetings allowed the two entities the opportunity to discuss methods for implementing integrated One-Stop services and the ability to pursue additional funding in order to bring more resources into the system. Furthermore, a strategic planning event for the Olmstead ODEP grant allowed all project and community partners the opportunity to have input on project design, overall goals, and the creation of a management team. The project management meetings have been held monthly (which both collaborators attend) and act as an ongoing mechanism for communication and relationship-building.
Other collaborative efforts include several gatherings of front-line staff from both Clearview staff and the WorkSource in an effort to coordinate services for individuals with disabilities being served at the one-stop. The Disability Marketing specialist from WorkSource attended Clearview job developers monthly meeting and job developers at Clearview work closely with the Business Service Unit (BSU) account reps at the One-Stop to coordinate services. A business consultant under the project and a small business owner who had experience hiring individuals with disabilities worked with the One-stop staff as well. This employer consultant also helped develop marketing materials and conducted training for Business Service Representatives on approaching employers.
As the partnership between Clearview and the One-stop developed, they have impacted communications systems and the manner in which staff interact. Cross-functional teams have been created and serve as task forces to work on specific issues, such as customer flow. These teams have been instrumental in connecting staff to others "outside of their own cubicles." One administrator said, "You felt the walls coming down." Within this team structure, a disability committee reviewed One-Stop processes from a disability perspective. One issue that arose was data entry around disability status. Some staff recorded disability status for customers; others did not. The committee found confusion about disclosure at the root of this problem. As a result, staff was trained in how to handle disclosure issues, and data collection in their data system has improved.
In addition to cross-functional teams, Vancouver implemented "Jamboree" sessions, another method for team- and leadership-building. "Jamboree" sessions involved all levels of staff across multiple partners. A "jamboree" provides the opportunity for One-Stop partners to identify key issues that impact system design and delivery of services around a specific issue, with all participants having equal say in the development of creative solutions to challenges. To date there have been three jamborees; each session focused on a different aspect of service delivery: business services; services for adults; and services for older youth.
- The business services session resulted in the design of the integrated business services team and the development of common operating standards and principles.
- The adult services session resulted in a better understanding among staff that performance is more than numbers and that system resources need to focus on results for the target populations (especially training, placement and retention of individuals with disabilities). There was also a focus on connecting employer services with job seekers services to facilitate better planning and stronger relationships.
- The services for older youth session explored the integration of services for youth aged 18-21 into the adult system. Facilitated by an outside consultant, the sessions included activities such as staff and partner presentations, brainstorming, and developing action plans.
All three jamborees have been extremely successful and have resulted in a common understanding of the issue(s), rationale for changes, and subsequent development of new programs and/or processes. This common language and understanding has allowed significant system change. The idea for cross-functional teams developed as a result of these sessions.
The partnership between SWWDDC and Clearview rests on both formal and informal agreements. As Clearview's relationship developed with SWWDC, they developed MOU's. As Clearview's relationship and funding intertwined with the One-Stop Center, together they created a formal Resource Sharing Agreement. The SWWDC also wanted to retain the disability consultation for policy and procedural issues and contracted with Columbia River Mental Health Services for 10% of the Vocational Director's time.
In addition, human resources are also shared. Through the Olmstead grant, for example, the Disability Marketing Specialist is a One-Stop service provider staff. The Disability Navigator at the One-Stop is a Clearview employee and Columbia River Mental Health employees are trained in providing services in the Resource Room within the One-Stop. Columbia River Mental Health Services contracts with the One-Stop provider for consultation on eligibility for a dislocated worker project.
Challenges and strategies to counteract challenges
Clearview and the One-Stop struggled with a mechanism that incorporated staff performance with outcome measurement. Yet, this is being overcome through the development of a performance monitoring system to reward staff for certain desired outcomes. It is known as "The Investment Grid". Development of the investment grid was a collaborative effort between the SWWDC, the One-Stop, and Clearview.
The grid has two axes: one for job seekers and another one for job orders/employers (see Table 1). Theoretical point values were attached to different types of job orders and the different types of job seekers. High point values were attached to customers who had received the most support. Placing a job seeker from a special population (e.g., an individual with a disability) into a job with a priority status (e.g. health care or information technology) received the highest point value. The details of implementing this concept are still being ironed out.
|Employers/Job Orders (horizontal)
Job Seekers (vertical)
|Self-Service (10)**||Staff-assisted service (40)***||Intensive service/ Priority (75) ****|
|WIA-trained, special populations (75)||85||115||150|
Source: Printed with permission from SWWDC.
* The numbers in the table represent fictional point values that are attached to different types of job orders (i.e. employers) and the different types of job seekers. Job placements of job seekers from special populations, including individuals with disabilities, receive the highest point values.
** Self-service includes web-based systems that employers can use to access a pool of workers, critical labor market information, employment regulations and tools to help employers self-manage their workforce needs. Employers can access this information without staff intervention or assistance.
*** Staff-assisted service includes access to staff in the One-Stop who can assist employers to post job opportunities/job orders, recruit candidates for employment, pre-screen job candidates, etc.
**** Intensive services include responding to individual employer business needs, especially those that operate in "priority" employment areas.