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  • January 20, 2021 6:32 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Sarah Lyngdal, NENA Secretary
    Ticket to Work Program Manager, Employment Resources, Inc.

    When Social Security disability beneficiaries start to consider a return to work, their biggest question is: How much can I earn without impacting my benefits? For many it is the deciding factor about how much they will work and earn when they find a job. But there is a lot of misinformation out there and beneficiaries are sometimes clinging to the wrong numbers without realizing it.

    I am a big believer that all ticketholders considering work should begin by getting work incentives benefits counseling from a trained and reputable source. The key to a successful return to work journey is being able to prepare for benefit changes before they happen. A work incentives benefits counselor can verify benefits, explain how earnings will impact state and federal benefits, and outline action items when there are changes to the ticketholder’s situation - including finding a job.

    Benefits counseling services can be provided in a variety of forms. Initially benefits counseling can include information and referral, or more in-depth services like a report about benefits, work incentives, income limits and timelines. The information in the report is specific to the ticketholder. An important part of the report explains when and how to report earnings to Social Security. Ongoing benefits counseling can include assistance with reporting work, filling out necessary paperwork, interpreting correspondence from both Social Security and state agencies that provide benefits, and resolving benefits issues. Employment Networks can also help the ticketholder monitor work incentives and timelines and ensure that paperwork is submitted promptly to have a greater chance of avoiding overpayments.

    The decision to return to work, begin working for the first time, or increase work can be a difficult one for the ticketholders we serve. Understanding how income-sensitive benefits can be affected by work earnings and managing those benefits can add even more stress and fear to the decision. As Ticket to Work providers, we can use benefits counseling services to educate ticketholders about their benefits, discuss options to maintain needed health insurance coverage, and hopefully alleviate some of the concerns around budgeting.

    Unfortunately, not all return-to-work efforts are seamless. If a ticketholder’s job ends or their hours are reduced, this can affect eligibility for benefits. A benefits counselor can help the ticketholder explore their options and assist with the process of getting cash benefits and health coverage reinstated, allowing the ticketholder to focus on the things that will help them get back to work or increase their hours.

    Furthermore, the support provided through benefits counseling can help ticketholders focus more on their job and career goals and abate some of their fears about benefits when working.
    Benefits counseling helps ticketholders make informed decisions about work and offers peace of mind in knowing the options and safety nets available with Social Security work incentives. In my opinion, it is the most important service we can offer our ticketholders.

    The Ticket to Work program published a great Fact Sheet about Benefits Counseling and the Path to Employment. You can find it here:

    Looking for Benefits Counseling Training?

    Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) CWIC and Community Partner Initial Training and Certification:
    Cost: Free
    Offered virtually

    Cornell Work Incentives Planning and Utilization for Benefit Practitioners:  
    Cost: Fees vary
    Offered virtually

  • November 20, 2020 12:46 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Peter Travisano, NENA Director
    Work Without Limits, UMass Medical School

    As Employment Network, Workforce and State VR Staff engaged in the Ticket to Work, we are often faced with difficult day-to-day questions regarding program operations.

    One important resource that we should be making regular use of is the Ticket to Work Provider Support Help Desk, operated by the Ticket Program Manager (TPM) Maximus. Staff are knowledgeable and take the time to provide detailed information.  When needed, they will research questions and follow up with more information.   We keep their number on our speed dial and use it often!

    We have found the Help Desk to be an invaluable source of information and guidance regarding complex payment requests. 

    Phase 1 payments can be especially challenging for Employment Networks.  One of the more difficult problems that the Help Desk assists us with is determining where a Ticketholder falls with look back earnings.  Help Desk staff can confirm recorded Trial Work earnings using information already in the system but not available through the Ticket to Work portal.  This allows the EN to know which months and which Milestone numbers to bill for, thus eliminating unnecessary denials and delays.  The Help Desk can also walk the EN through the payment request process.  This can be especially helpful in submitting Proof of Contact documentation should the EN be missing beneficiary pay stubs.

    The Help Desk can provide information in determining eligibility for Phase 2 and Milestone payments and may be able to provide more information than can be found in the portal.

    They can also be helpful in determining the reasons for payment denials and offer assistance in resolving them.  This is often a matter of determining which payment to request for the individual.

    The Help Desk also provides information related to Ticket assignment and important “how-to’s” regarding managing the Ticket portal, and the service provider website.

    To contact the Help Desk, call (866) 949-3687 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. The Help Desk also provides after-hours service via voicemail; simultaneous service to multiple callers; Spanish language service; Text Telephone Communication Service for the hearing- and speech-impaired. Their fax number is (703) 893-4020.

    You may also email the Help Desk at: for payment questions. for questions and issues related to Ticket assignment, the service provider website, and the Ticket Portal.

  • October 22, 2020 10:00 AM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Amy Wallish, NENA Vice President

    CEO, Full Circle Employment Solutions LLC

    Paper notes set with positive words

    ‘Tis the season for strategic planning, reflections on 2020, holiday music, Black Friday sales, Services and Supports audits, lots of food, DOL RFI responses, Ticketholder successes and busyness. It can also be a time of uneasiness about the unknown. How can we shape our thoughts and attitude into one of gratefulness and thanksgiving each day? I invite you to reflect on a few steps we can each take to bring more gratitude and joy into our lives and those around us.

    Smile more. A smile can make you feel better. A shared smile can warm someone else. I’m sure you can all think of a time when someone gave you that unexpected welcoming smile that just made your day. In our current times with masks, we need to smile more with our eyes. I challenge you to Google how to smile with your eyes. You’ll find lots of sites that talk about it. Take intentional time each day to smile to yourself, coworkers, clients, or strangers.

    Send a handwritten note. Share your gratitude for someone with a handwritten note. Be specific and personalize the note with details that you learned by listening and knowing the person. The act of writing out your thanks and physical mailing it will brighten your day and someone else’s.

    Gratitude time. Set aside a specific time each day to reflect on 3 things or 3 people that you are grateful for that day. Visualize them and give thanks again.

    Help someone else. The simple act of helping someone else can be life changing and joy giving. So take time to ask, “How are you?” or “How can I help you?” and act.

    Say Hello. Say hello to strangers. The act of acknowledging someone with a smile and a hello will allow you to express gratitude to those around you.

    Dance. Take 5 minutes each day to get your body moving. Ask Alexa to play a song and turn it up. Stand up from your desk and just dance! How can you not have joy while dancing to… Fill in the blank and give it your best shot, baby.

    Self-Examination. Take time to do a self-check-in. How were my words today? Did I leave someone in a better place? Did I leave a kind word? Did I pay attention to those I encountered today? Did I make time? Did I make peace? Did I say, “I’m here for you”? With self-examination comes understanding and self-compassion and in turn a spirit of inward joy and outward gratefulness to others.

    Let’s pause here. Go back and re-read these ideas. Let’s challenge ourselves to do as many as we can in the next 30 days. Take note of it. How did it make you feel? Did anything surprise you? Did you surprise anyone? How did others react? I’d love to do a follow-up article in a future newsletter with feedback from this challenge, so please email me your feedback, stories, and responses on how it went.

  • September 30, 2020 10:30 AM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Amy Wallish

    NENA Vice President

    NENA Conference in Review

    By now, you are hopefully caught up on emails and back into your regular routine which likely does NOT include taking random pictures to upload to the “Game” or “Photo Scavenger Hunt.”

    That’s a Wrap! NENA’s 10th Annual National Training Conference

    By now, you have used the items in your goodie bag and double-checked your raffle ticket numbers. We are still looking for some of the WINNERS to give out your PRIZE. All the numbers are in the notifications section on the app. Please double check to see if you are a winner.

    By now, you have had time to reflect on last week’s wonderful conference and have provided feedback on ALL your AWESOME sessions. If not, please be sure to take time to complete this. The NENA board will use the evaluations as we plan 2021 trainings and events.

    By now, you have hopefully checked out the ON-DEMAND sessions, such as Ask the Expert! Re-Entry Q&A, which is located on the app. More will be coming shortly so keep checking back.

    By now, you may have gone back into the app to REVIEW some of the recordings or download presentations on sessions such as Work Smart, Contractor Compliance & Connecting, PII, Interviewing 101, Client Engagement Strategies, Wage Reporting and Marketing. 

    By now, you have made some new NENA connections and sent out those follow up emails. Perhaps you have even made one of the recipes from the After-Hours Cocktail Shake Up NETWORKING event.

    By now, your head may be swimming with so many IDEAS and great takeaways from the conference. But before I lose you, take one more look at the conference Welcome Session to relive the moment it all began! Click here to watch the session.

    By now, if you missed NENA’s 10th annual training conference, we hope you can see the VALUE of attending a future conference. If not, talk to anyone who attended for feedback.

    By now, you are probably sick of my “by nows” about the conference. So now it is time to move on. Make sure to review your NEW TPA as there are more changes than just those highlighted. Be sure to sign and return it by October 28,2020.

  • August 21, 2020 1:36 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    by Judy Sanderson, NENA Director

    Director, Vocational Services

    Granite State Independent Living

    Computer Scam Representing Rip Off And Scams

    With the millions of people who receive Social Security benefits, it’s probably not surprising that a lot of scam artists use the program in fraudulent phone calls, emails, and letters. The schemes typically involve criminals impersonating the Social Security Administration in order to obtain, and then misuse, social security numbers and other personal information. They are even using Covid-19 in their attempts to defraud beneficiaries. Here are some ways scammers are using social security:

    • Scammers use phone calls and email messages to impersonate Social Security personnel and trick people into giving up money and personal information.
    • Common tactics include threatening the suspension of Social Security benefits or charging for services the Social Security Administration provides for free.
    • Scams should be reported to your local authorities, the SSA Office of the Inspector General, or the Federal Trade Commission.

    Scammers are aware that people are catching on to their attempts, so they’re coming up with new ways to convince Social Security beneficiaries that their frauds are legitimate. Here’s what to tell your ticket holders to watch for so they can protect themselves and others from Social Security scams.

    1. Threatening arrest or legal action: If you receive a threatening phone call claiming that there is an issue with your Social Security number or benefits, it’s a scam. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action if you don’t immediately pay a fine or fee.

    2. Emails or texts with personally identifiable information: If there’s a legitimate problem with your Social Security number or record, the SSA will mail you a letter to notify you of any issues.

    3. Misspellings and grammar mistakes: If the caller follows up with emails containing falsified letters or reports that appear to be from the SSA or SSA’s OIG, look closely. The letters may use government “jargon” or letterhead that appears official in order to help convince victims, but they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes.

    4. Requests for payment by gift or pre-paid card, cash, or wire transfer: If you do need to submit payments to the SSA, the agency will mail a letter with payment instructions and options through U.S. mail. You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards. Scammers ask for payment this way because it’s difficult to trace and recover.

    5. Offers to increase benefits in exchange for payment: Similarly, SSA employees will never promise to increase your Social Security benefits, or offer other assistance, in exchange for payment.

    6. Supposedly friendly service phone calls: One type of scam call attempts to sell to the recipient services the SSA readily provides at no charge. The caller might, for example, offer to provide a new Social Security card, enroll a new family member in the program, or provide a record of Social Security contributions to date, along with the expected future income they will yield. Note: more recently there have been scams where the callers have offered Covid-19 testing kits for around $20. Of course, no kit ever arrives, and the scammers have gathered significant personal information in the process.

    7. Fake emails: Seniors may also be reeled in by so-called “phishing” emails designed to emulate messages from the SSA. The emails typically resemble actual agency communication, including duplicate mastheads and font styles. The messages may also direct readers to a fake page designed to look like one from the SSA website. The efforts invariably seek to obtain personal information from you, which should never be provided. The same clues of fraudulent intent as with the phone calls apply here.

    Note: both the SSA and the Office of the Inspector General say that legitimate emails from the agency never seek personal information and do not adopt an alarmist or threatening tone.

    Reporting a scam:

    If you think you’ve been the victim of a Social Security scam, report it immediately. Make sure you document anything you can to add to your report, such as a telephone number or website, the name of the caller, the time and date of the call or email, what information was requested, and anything else that may identify the person who made the call.

    There are a number of ways to report a scam:

  • July 23, 2020 7:47 PM | Anonymous

    By David Leon, NENA Director

    Deputy Director, Workforce Programs

    Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services

    Covid-19 has created problems and opportunities within the service delivery system when it comes to the Ticket to Work program. For many ENs and VR agencies, this has meant a switch to more virtual services, endless Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft team or Google hangout meetings. It has meant working with beneficiaries in new ways and addressing different issues. More time has been spent on calculating hours and navigating both work incentives and, in some cases, unemployment benefits. Addressing workplace safety related to helping some decide if now is the best time to begin that new job or increase hours due to workplace demands has been another new area of work with our customers. The uncertainty of when things will return to normal looms over most of us as we try to plan for future activities and opportunities.

    Young man using a laptop at work 

    The ability to connect with beneficiaries’ virtually is not new, and many Employment Networks have very successful business models based on this type of service delivery. It is a great time to use this success to grow in other ways. Perhaps it is through identifying resources that would help current ticket holders you are serving prepare for the next career step through the identification of free online training. Maybe it is a renewed focus on increasing partnership opportunities with VR agencies as they move towards remote service delivery. The time is ripe to provide added value to both internal and external customers due to the changing landscape. Many positions and companies that were not designed for a remote worker have been moving in this direction, opening new opportunities for the clients we serve.

    A personal area of interest for me has been the addition of financial empowerment services to the VR process in Virginia. This has included the use of financial health assessments, tools from the CFPB, NDI and NextGen Personal Finance as well as referring some of our VR clients to virtual financial coaching. Financial coaching may include working to manage immediate expenses and figuring out which bills to be paid first, developing a spending plan to pay off debt and build an emergency fund. This type of service often helps to build hope and may be provided at no cost through nonprofits or financial institutions in the community. Adding this type of service for your clients not only provides additional expertise to help with critical aspects of managing increased income but may also strengthen the relationship between your EN and the client.

  • June 16, 2020 1:19 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)
    By Sarah Lyngdal, NENA Director
    Ticket to Work Program Manager
    Employment Resources, Inc.

    In COVID-19 times, many of us dramatically changed the way in which we do our work; namely going from a physical office space to providing services remotely/virtually from our homes. This change seems to have freed up some staff time to work on professional development and continuing education.  Not only that, but some of the consumers we serve are looking for ways to revamp their skills and productively occupy their time. I’d like to share some great free resources for training to expand our knowledge and skills. 

    Colleagues & Clients: GCF LearnFree, created by the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina, offers free training and tutorials on more than 200 topics. Training offerings include computer programs like Microsoft office, graphic design, job search/career, and starting from scratch with basic computer skills.

    Colleagues & Clients: is one of the biggest free online education and skills training. Offers 1,000 free online courses with a range of topics from IT, Language, Health, Business, Marketing and Lifestyle.

    Colleagues & ClientsLinkedIn Learning acquired back in 2015. It offers all the training content previously available on with topics like customer service, leadership, time management and a range of software programs. LinkedIn Learning offers a free month trial for their online training. Also, LinkedIn Learning might be free through your public library:

    Colleagues & Clients:  Consumer Finance Protection Bureau- Your Money Your Goals, financial empowerment training to help consumers meet their financial goals. Free toolkits and consumer guides available which cover a range of financial topics including budgeting, debt, paying bills, and understanding credit reports. CFPB is hosting weekly webinars on Wednesdays, June 10, 2020 to July 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm EST. The one and one-half hour webinars will showcase the CFPB’s Your Money, Your Goals financial resources for frontline staff and those who work with economically vulnerable populations.

    Colleagues: VCU has an upcoming introductory class: Introduction to Social Security Disability Benefits, Work Incentives, and Employment Support Programs Web Course (June 2020)

    Clients: Building IT Fundamentals

    Interested in Podcasts?

    • TED offers a Work Life podcast by Organizational Psychologist, Adam Grant.  A few episode topics include burnout, procrastination, and reinventing job interviews. 
    • The Happiness Lab by Dr. Laurie Santos sharing scientific research and stories about happiness. Dr. Santos has done a few episodes talking about COVID-19. 

    New to Online Learning? Check out these 8 Tips for Effective Online Learning.

  • May 31, 2020 1:46 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    by Lauren Parker, NENA Director
    Senior Director, Ticket to Work Program
    The SkillSource Group, Inc. | Virginia Career Works – Northern Region

    We are full swing into NENA’s annual membership drive, and I thought this would be a perfect time to reflect on what my NENA membership means to me. I immediately thought of the first Annual National Training Conference I attended. It was 2016 and that year we were in New Orleans. It was my first time to the city. As you can imagine, I was blown away by the amazing food and incredible musicians. I was also amazed at the Ticket camaraderie I found at the conference. I remember being struck by how wonderful it felt to have so many people I could talk Ticket with, and they understood! Up until that year, I had been left relatively on my own to run a Ticket program for our local Workforce Development Board. And while I had (and still have) a great group of colleagues who supported me and believed in the goals and mission of Ticket to Work, it was hard sometimes.

    Since then, our Ticket program has grown, and I work alongside three other dedicated Ticket staff. I’ve had the opportunity to attend additional conferences and the current honor of serving on the NENA Board. But so often our Ticket programs are but one line of business among several other programs and priorities our companies and agencies tackle. Often the person overseeing Ticket is doing so on their own or juggling it, among other duties. What I took away that first year at the conference was more than the great tools and best practices for running an Employment Network (EN). It was the new network of individuals who work in this field and believe in its purpose. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had a community!

    NENA strives to help Employment Networks, and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies (VRs) succeed and grow their Ticket programs through training, technical assistance, advocacy, and networking opportunities. As a member, you have access to an exclusive network of over 200 professionals representing ENs, VRs and other Ticket stakeholders across the country. There are so many reasons to join, renew, and stay active in your NENA community! Learn about new ways to engage your clients, grow your Ticket program and revenue, streamline your payment processes, and get paid quicker. If you work for a VR agency, learn about new tools and resources to manage and streamline your Ticket services, connect your consumers with pre-enrollment and post-closure employment services, and stay in touch with Ticket rule changes.

    Not a member? NENA offers different membership options, allowing for the wider Ticket community to engage. All memberships are based on the individual, and the type of membership available to you will depend on your organization’s connection to Ticket to Work. Full Memberships are available to individuals who work for organizations currently serving as ENs. VRs and American Job Centers (AJCs) serving as ENs are also included in this group. Each organization is limited to one full membership. If you are exploring or taking steps to become an EN, a Provisional Membership can provide access to information and resources to help you navigate the process. A final category of membership, Ticket Partner, is for non-Ticket providers considered stakeholders in Social Security Disability programs. Associate memberships are available to individuals within any organization who already has either a Full, Provisional, or Ticket Partner member within their organization.

    Not sure if you can join? Here are some commonly asked membership questions:

    • I work for a State VR operating through Ticket to Work and cost-reimbursement. Can I join? Yes! Once your agency has a Full Member, you can join as an Associate Member.
    • I work for a State VR that only participates in cost-reimbursement. Can I join? Yes! Ticket Partner Membership is available to you as a stakeholder in Social Security Disability programs. Once your agency has a Ticket Partner Member, you can join as an Associate Member.
    • The organization I work for is in the process of becoming an Employment Network. Can I join? Yes! With a Provisional Membership, you’ll have access to information and resources to help navigate the steps to becoming an Employment Network. Provisional Memberships convert to Full Memberships upon Ticket Program Agreement (TPA) award.
    • I work for an American Job Center that is also a Workforce Employment Network. Can I join? Yes! Once your agency has a Full Member, you can join as an Associate Member.
    • I work for a Workforce Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project. Can I join? Yes! Ticket Partner Membership is available to you as a stakeholder in Social Security Disability programs. If your agency already has a Ticket Partner Member, you can join as an Associate Member.

    When thinking back on my first NENA conference, I knew I had found something good. I made connections with others doing the same work I was doing. I had access to expertise specific to my daily work. I had a voice to share my experience and help others. That’s what membership means to me. The opportunity to connect, learn, and share. Become a NENA member today and add your voice! As co-chair of NENA’s Membership Committee, I look forward to welcoming you.

  • April 20, 2020 1:54 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Judy Sanderson, NENA Director
    Director, Vocational Services
    Granite State Independent Living

    We are all being inundated by news stories, articles, emails, and social media posts on the current COVID-19 situation. This includes information on everything that the government, state and federal, are putting in place to try and mitigate the wide-ranging impacts. NENA wants to provide you with some links to information on a variety of these safety nets so you can review them as you need to and have time to absorb it.

    1. Stimulus Check Information

    The stimulus checks (or economic impact checks) will start arriving shortly and there is some confusion as to who is eligible and how to make sure you will get what you should get. Click here for a link to the IRS site that provides an explanation.

    It is important to note that SSDI recipients do not need to file a tax return. To date, SSI recipients will need to do so although the IRS is still looking at ways to bypass that requirement. Also, those who have eligible children will need to file to receive the additional $500/child without waiting. The link for information and the form is here:

    2. Cornell University on the impact of the stimulus check on various benefits.

     In general, this document states who is eligible and that it will not impact either SSDI, SSI or TANF benefits. There is also information on SNAP, Medicare/Medicaid, VA Pensions, unemployement and more. Click here to view the form.

    3. Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

    On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

    Q&A from DOL

    More Q&A

    Wage and Hour Division of DOL posted a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020, to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. Click here to watch the webinar.

    WHD offers a number of plain-language compliance assistance materials to explain FFCRA’s benefits and requirements. Tools include a Fact Sheet for Employees and a Fact Sheet for Employers, available in both English and Spanish, and an expansive list of Questions and Answers addressing the questions WHD has most frequently received from stakeholders to date. Available guidance also includes two new posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, available in both English and Spanish, that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law, Questions and Answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.

    4. Unemployment Insurance

    This is something that will vary from state to state. Many of us are facing lay-offs, furloughs, reduction in work hours for our staff and ourselves. Click here to help you find information for your state(s).

    5. IRS: Employee Retention Credit for many businesses financially impacted by COVID-19

    The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

    The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. There are only two exceptions: State and local governments and their instrumentalities and small businesses who take small business loans. Click here for more information.

    6. Paid Leave

    The US Department of Labor has just clarified that parents of adult children who have lost their usual source of care due to COVID-19 may receive Paid Leave to stay home to care for their adult children just as parents of children up to age 18 may stay home to care for their child who has lost their usual source of care due to school or childcare closings or inability of childcare providers to come to the home to care for their child. The US Department of Labor has finally determined that the definition of “son or daughter” for the new program should be consistent with that of the existing Family and Medical Leave Act, which “expressly includes children 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.” Find out more here.

    7. The Paycheck Protection Program

    The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

    Most of us have heard about the problems businesses have had when applying for these loans, but in case you want to look into it, click here for additional information.

  • March 19, 2020 1:57 PM | NENA Admin (Administrator)

    By Margo Scoble, NENA Director
    CWIC, Program Director, Managed Career Solutions, Inc.

    It is truly an honor to be back on the National Employment Network Association Board of Directors. I look forward to continuing to work with our members. Partnering with your American Job Center is more important than ever. This partnership will be beneficial to both parties as the Ticket to Work program continues to evolve. Having partner agencies can be a great resource for both you and your job seekers. Partnering can be informal or formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  A local EN might want to partner with an American Job Center (AJC), your local Workforce Development Board (WDB), or the operating agencies of the American Job Centers. The more people you can access who are potential ticket holders, the more people you might touch and eventually sign up.


    The process may seem daunting and can lead to questions such as, where do I start? What happens once I introduce myself and my organization? Starting at the beginning is always a good idea. Map your local area, thoroughly read the websites of your WDB and the operators of your nearest America’s Job Center. Contact those agencies, ask to attend an orientation and read their Mission and Vision statements. By doing so you might see an opportunity in which you may be of service to them, and ultimately, they can refer you to potential ticket holders who are ready to search for employment.

    The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act states that persons with disabilities are to be served at the American Job Centers. Many AJCs simply have not engaged this population enough and would welcome your input and resources. This is an ideal time to pick up that phone and try to schedule a meeting with an Executive Director or Program Manager. The more you know about the AJC you are meeting with, the opportunity for a positive outcome will be higher. Starting small is ideal. At your first meeting, ask what services the agency you are meeting with provides, and share your services in turn. Through this two-way conversation, opportunities will appear. You also have the option to introduce your services at weekly AJC orientations, leave printed materials in their resource centers, and attend a staff orientation to provide an overview of your services. Once the relationship solidifies, an MOU may be developed between your organizations.

    American Job Centers are required to engage with local businesses and serve them. This includes posting job leads, hosting on-site recruitments and ideally, consistent job fairs. The AJC Business Services teams offer these terrific opportunities for your clients to obtain solid, timely resources that may lead to employment. As ENs, we are gaining more employer openings through 503, and the AJCs all have ample local resources. Also, the AJCs do have training dollars and you might be able to request some spots to be reserved for PWD, to which your ticket holders would be a great fit. You may co-enroll your beneficiaries, as co-case management is proven to often lead to more positive outcomes.

    Another benefit of partnering is to plant seeds for long term growth of your business. There are grants and Requests for Proposals announced for a variety of programs from different funding streams. Partnering, subcontracting and letters of support are at times necessary to secure finding. Having partners a phone call away can be enormous if you are writing a proposal to increase your chances of securing funding, or to open opportunities for your EN to be involved in new grants or grant cycles from your partners.

    I am pleased to offer insight into the dynamic potential of partnership between workforce programs for persons with disabilities. The success of ENs which are already closely involved with their local workforce development system highlight the synergy that these types of partnerships create. It is important to know that partnerships will always evolve, so even if you have not both figured every part out, there is no harm in initiating collaborative efforts with your new partner today.

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The National Employment Network Association (NENA) serves Employment Networks (ENs), American Job Centers (AJC) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies operating the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program, which based in the Social Security Administration.

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