Advancing Workforce Skills for All Abilities

New York seeks to empower all residents, including workers with disabilities, to contribute their strengths and develop the skills needed to succeed in one’s desired career. Expanding funding for training programs will help make New York State a model for the employment of workers with disabilities.

OPWDD and OMH operate three grant programs with a total budget of $10.92 million.

$2.82 Million Career-Specific Vocational Training for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD)

The Individuals with Intellectual Development Disabilities (I/DD) Program provides skills training to increase an individual’s marketable employment. The $2.82 million investment in the Career-Specific Vocational Training for I/DD provides training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are seeking competitive employment in a specific career field. Designed to meet the demands of today’s employers, participants learn career-specific skills in industries including custodial, office skills, food service, hospitality, and retail. The program includes in-class training and job readiness skills, and trainees participate in community vocational experiences.

All participants receive career planning and community vocational experiences at local businesses to reinforce classroom learning and gain experiential knowledge about the industry. These parallel services are funded through Medicaid Waiver Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) such as community based prevocational services, Pathway to Employment or the Employment Training Program. It is estimated that the career planning services and community vocational experiences outside of the classroom sessions averaged 50 hours per person for 59 graduates with an estimated total of $149,889 in matching funds. These figures are averaged based on the varied rates for each service and activity.

Status: Launched. Career-Specific Vocational Training for I/DD made its first awards in August 2023, funding eight programs across the state.

Program Outcomes to Date: The I/DD program has had 106 participants, with 59 graduates to date, with classes still ongoing. Grantees have reported 59 new business partners supporting the program via curriculum development and experiential learning, and 14 new businesses hiring class graduates.


Additional funding allocated to OPWDD in FY24 will support three additional programs that are set to launch in 2024-25:

New York State as a Model Employer Project

Increase the number of people with disabilities in the State government workforce. State agencies will work to remove systemic barriers to employment opportunities, and training for State employees will be developed to assist them in becoming natural supports on the job for people with disabilities as well as for other coworkers.

Business Model and Culture Change for Voluntary Provider Executive Leadership Teams

Forums and trainings designed to increase the number of OPWDD voluntary provider agencies that offer the full continuum of day, vocational, and employment services so that they can seamlessly provide clients with high-quality services.

Training for Day Habilitation and Direct Care Staff in Employment and Vocational Services

Train the OPWDD service system on the full continuum of employment services available to the population served. This training will demonstrate how staff can empower people to successfully meet their goal of competitive employment, reduce dependence on site-based programs, and offer more community engagement activities. The training will include how to deliver person-centered services and job-readiness training.

$8.1 Million for Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (OMH)

The Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program is a comprehensive recovery-focused model that integrates rehabilitation, treatment, and support, assisting individuals to manage their symptoms in the competitive workplace. Managed by OMH, individuals work on living independently, building natural support, finding and keeping a job, and reaching higher levels of education. There are four major components to the program — community rehabilitation and support, intensive rehabilitation, ongoing rehabilitation and support, and clinical treatment. PROS programs are located throughout the state and include a wide range of wraparound services including career coaching, post-completion support, financial counseling, resume prep, tools and program materials, legal services, food assistance, childcare and more. Through the State’s $8.1 million allocation, PROS will fully fund an Employment Specialist/Counselor position within each PROS program to provide evidence-based supported employment (individual placement and support) and work directly with employers in the community to identify and create new opportunities for adults with serious mental illness. OMH also added two regional employment coordinators to act as a liaison between supported employment providers and other State agencies that support employment initiatives, including NYSED Adult Career and Continued Education Services Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and DOL.

Status: Launched. Since January 2023, all 78 existing PROS programs have received enhanced State aid for funding employment services.

Program Outcomes to Date: 463 participants have received employment support since funding enhancement was initiated in 2023.

OMH will continue utilizing the $2.8 million investment to support employment outcomes for PROS participants. The additional $2.5 million allocated in FY24 is being invested in a Managed Care Technical Assistance Contract, a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Symposium, and related staffing.

$2.3 Million Psychiatric Rehabilitation Symposium 

Allocated to the Curriculum and Resource Development Initiative which will organize curriculum and resource development, training, and technical assistance for NYS OMH providers related to ongoing initiatives promoting psychiatric rehabilitation practices. The intent is to ensure adult psychiatric rehabilitation programs have access to evidence-based curricula and resources necessary to support service delivery. This will include curricula that support individuals with school and work-related goals. PROS practitioners and other psychiatric rehabilitation staff statewide will have access to these curricula and will receive training in evidence-informed approaches including Wellness Recovery Action Planning, cognitive remediation, and trauma/resiliency education. OMH issued a Solicitation of Interest for this funding in October 2023, has evaluated all letters of interest, and has selected the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at NYU Silver School of Social Work as the only qualified vendor. 

Status: OMH is currently in the process of contracting with NYU and expects that this initiative will begin in Spring 2024.