As part of the Wisconsin Employment First Initiative, four organizations received grant funding from WI BPDD to develop local Community Action Teams (CATS). The purpose of the CATS is to implement grassroots efforts to expand integrated employment options for people with disabilities in their local communities. The five CATs are located in Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Manitowoc and Hudson.
What is an Employment First Community Action Team (CAT)?
The purpose of the Employment First CATs is to is to implement practices around the state that support Employment First principles and practices, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people with disabilities in working in community jobs. CAT membership is diverse and includes: People with disabilities, family members, legislators, educators, employment providers, employers, People First members, and other community organizations. The CATs promote Employment First principles and practices to help achieve increased integrated employment outcomes on a regional or local level. Each of the CAT has specific responsibilities to advance the goals of Employment First. This includes the development of an annual Action Plan to achieve locally-determined goals and objectives to increase the number of people with disabilities who hold integrated jobs.
What have the CATs been doing?
Each CAT is taking a unique approach to supporting the Employment First goal of doubling the number of people in community jobs by 2016, in their local communities. Examples of team activities include:
- Educating local/regional business community on Employment First practices and their positive impact on the work place, business image, and bottom line through a series of employer events
- Conducting Employment First town hall meeting with legislators and other Employment First promotional events (e.g., to chambers, newspaper, and radio)
- Raising expectations of community by show casing success stories from the employer and employee perspectives
- Collecting data and assessing local employment of people with disabilities by surveying area businesses
- Launching an active Employer Council
- Recruiting, coaching and retaining a core group of 25 Movers and Shakers in the business community
- Obtaining commitments from local employers to increase diversity in their work force
- Providing training to local schools, students and families to raise expectations for students around employment
- Providing Employment First marketing/outreach materials and coordinate local Employment First events
- Building diverse local partnerships (including businesses, chambers of commerce, people with disabilities, families, schools, long-term care providers) to grow the influence of Employment First within the community
- Conducting community conversations/learning events that explain and promote Employment First principles and practices
- Sharing local successes and challenges and participating in discussions of best practices in the employment of people with disabilities
More information and updates can be found on the web pages for each CAT location.