Jennifer Jones - Project Coordinator   269-8999

What is the purpose of Alaska Works?

The purpose of Alaska Works is to create systems change that addresses the major barriers keeping people with disabilities who receive public support from working:

¨     Fear of losing health benefits
¨      Financial disincentives
¨      Fragmented systems
¨      Lack of comprehensive vocational services
¨      General lack of knowledge or use of existing work incentive programs
¨      Limited work opportunities

Systems change will be accomplished by integrating and building on existing system change initiatives in Alaska:

¨     Work Incentives Project
¨      Economic Development Alliance
¨     Alaska Job Center Network
¨      Alaska Transition Initiative
¨      Regional Economic Development Initiative

And by linking to other initiatives and activities in Alaska to:

¨     Implement Alaska’s Medicaid Buy-in Bill
¨      Increase the availability of accessible, coordinated transportation
¨      Increase the availability of accessible, affordable housing
¨      Streamline the Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program
¨      Redesign the Personal Care Attendant Services Program
¨      Increase the use of federal business tax credits
¨      Increase the use of the Alaska Job Center Network by people with disabilities and the business community

Alaska Works is also working with the business community and job placement agencies to develop a better understanding of the current incentives and benefits associated with employing people with disabilities, including:

¨      Tax credits for wages paid

¨   Tax credits for becoming compliant with ADAAG standards
¨   Improved customer service for a diverse customer base
¨   Job coaching assistance
¨   Trial Work period 
¨   On-The-Job Training wage assistance

¨      Improved Job Center services

How is the project being managed?

The Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education is managing the project, in coordination and collaboration with the Alaska Works Consortium and the Consumer Advisory Board.  The Alaska Works Consortium is comprised of representatives of the Council, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Division of Public Assistance, the Department of Education and Early Development, the Division of Medical Assistance, the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. 

How are grant funds be used?

Grant funds have been used to hire three resource specialists (Jay Caputo – Juneau, Michelle Morehouse – Anchorage, and Jim Kreatschman – Fairbanks) to assist one-stop Job Centers and related service providers adapt their services to better meet the needs of people with disabilities who receive public support.  A business development specialist (Heidi Frost) is working with the employing community to develop partnerships with targeted employers. The project coordinator (Jennifer Jones) is working at the Governors Council on Disabilities and Special Education to oversee day-to-day activities of the project and to work with the project director (Millie Ryan) to develop and implement state policy change.  The Center for Human Development is responsible for evaluation and dissemination activities.

What are the objectives of Alaska Works?

¨       Identify barriers affecting people with disabilities from benefiting from one-stop workforce centers.
¨       Provide interagency staff training and technical assistance. 
¨       Implement a system of work incentives for people with disabilities and employers.
¨       Implement common intake and referral procedures.
¨       Establish a statewide job access information system to match applicants with disabilities to the employing community.
¨       Expand the array of services provided through one-stop workforce centers to better meet the needs of people with disabilities.
¨       Develop professional capacity to provide comprehensive, holistic vocational rehabilitation services.
¨       Develop strong partnerships with business and industry.
¨       Create economic development linkages, self-employment and small business ownership.
¨       Increase the use of existing SSA and Adult Public Assistance work incentives.
¨       Apply for applicable waivers from SSA and HCFA.
¨       Assist related service providers to increase access to vocational services for people with disabilities.
¨       Increase availability of affordable, accessible housing and supportive housing services.
¨       Improve the effectiveness and use of existing State of Alaska incentives designed to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
¨       Increase the availability of accessible transportation.
¨       Increase access to other resources that people with disabilities need to work.
¨       Evaluate the outcomes, impact and effectiveness of the Alaska Works project.
¨       Disseminate information on effective systems change approaches.

Activities to date:  

¨      Completed a study of the Alaska-specific disincentives to work.
¨      Surveyed people with disabilities who receive public support to determine barriers to employment and the mix of services and supports they need in order to work.
¨      Established an Interagency Think Tank to design a system of work incentives for people with disabilities and for employers.
¨      Helped plan a redesign of the Personal Assistance Services system.
¨      Provided funding to pilot a comprehensive, holistic benefits counseling and employment program in Juneau and Kenai.
¨      Piloted a self-employment class through the University Affiliated Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Alaska Inventors and Entrepreneurs Association.
¨      Assisted local businesses to acquire capital needed for business expansion in exchange for hiring people with disabilities through the Job Creation Project.
¨      Hired three Resource Specialists to work in the One-stop Job Centers and one Business Development Specialist.
¨      Provided three master training sessions on how to provide benefits counseling in Anchorage and Fairbanks, with an additional training planned for Juneau and the Southeast Region.
¨      Provided mini – benefits training to agencies and consumers on an as needed basis to prepare to become vendors to provide the service to consumers.
¨      Planning for a video to provide distance delivery of the benefits planning and assistance training.
¨      Provided Disability Awareness training at Job Centers in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
¨      Formed work groups to discuss planning and implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.
¨      Formed work groups around specific issues discussed at the Think Tank.
¨      Supported formal presentation of John Hockenberry to the Anchorage community to generate interest around employment issues.
¨      Involved in the local Work Force Investment Boards and Job Center work groups statewide.
¨      Conducted a Self-Assessment of One-Stop Career Centers in Relation to Job Seekers with Disabilities in the Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, EagleRiver, and Fairbanks job centers.
¨      Established a Consumer Advisory Board of Twenty Individuals statewide.
¨      Conducted consumer focus groups in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau as well as Employer focus groups in the Anchorage area to determine issues around employment and identify strategies to remove barriers.


¨      Identified twelve potential approaches for removing the four major barriers to work for Alaskans with disabilities at the Think Tank meeting in the fall of 1999.
¨Held a second meeting of the Alaska Works Think Tank in June 2000, to flesh out additional details for the Alaska Works five-year plan, to update partners on project successes and challenges and to plan for the writing of the Grants which were released in response to the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act.
¨     Implemented the Medicaid Working Disabled Buy-In Program option, retroactive to April 1, 1999. A total of 66 are currently using the Buy-In program as of August 2000.
¨      Working closely with the Alaska Job Center Steering Network and with local job center networks in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage to make Alaska’s one-stop job centers more usable by people with disabilities.

¨      Served 158 people through the comprehensive, holistic benefits counseling and employment program and placed 86 people into jobs of their choice.

¨      Twelve people with significant disabilities are developing business feasibility plans and another three individuals with out Disabilities have attended the course.

¨      Awarded grants through the Job Creation Project to the Juneau Economic Development Council and the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, which resulted in seven businesses hiring at least one individual with a disability with a commitment of five years.

¨      Gained division director support for five-year plans developed by the Alaska Works Think Tank and made revision to the plans based on their needs and additional information.

¨      Trained five new vendors to provide benefits planning and assistance in the Anchorage – Mat-Su area.

¨      A survey of 600 small businesses in Alaska was conducted by Dittman Research Corporation and focused on issues around hiring people who receive public assistance as well as experience disabilities in the state of Alaska.

¨      A memorandum of agreement was drafted between the Juneau office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Juneau School District to better identify responsibilities and how to collaborate.

Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education
University of Alaska Anchorage – Center for Human Development
State of Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation