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June 21, 2012
Augusta—During the first week of June, staff members of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) of the Maine Department of Labor participated in two days of specially designed training in Augusta. The program focused on strengthening their skills in assisting people with disabilities to prepare for, find and maintain employment.
This year’s event was co-sponsored by Maine APSE. Maine APSE is the local chapter of APSE, a national organization with an exclusive focus on promoting integrated employment and career development for people with disabilities. This partnership with Maine APSE enabled BRS not only to bring three national speakers on disability employment to Maine but also to include a number of community rehabilitation providers and partner agencies in the training.
Stephen Wooderson, chief executive officer of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation gave the keynote address. Wooderson updated attendees on federal issues and funding for vocational rehabilitation programs as well as answered questions from the audience on employment topics. He also recognized Maine’s success in several areas, including Maine’s elimination of its waitlist for vocational rehabilitation services, its services to youth and young adults, and its collaborations with both One-Stop partners—more commonly referred to as the CareerCenters—and Maine’s Native American Vocational Rehabilitation program.
Two dynamic speakers, Doug Crandell of the Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia and Nancy Brooks-Lane, director of Employment First Georgia, offered a full afternoon session on the use of customized employment and evidence-based supported employment as effective models for promoting the employment of individuals with significant disabilities.
The workshop provided BRS staff from across Maine an update on the state of the Bureau from BRS leaders. The sessions covered topics including assisting people with brain injuries to return to work, working with criminal offenders and using labor market information to identify employment options. Deputy Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Commissioner Robert Winglass each offered remarks at the conference on the importance of ensuring that all Maine workers – including people with disabilities – are prepared and ready to meet Maine’s workforce needs.
BRS works to bring about full access to employment, independence and community integration for people with disabilities. Working with its partners in the Maine Department of Labor's CareerCenter and the rehabilitation community, BRS works with persons with disabilities through its three primary service provision units: the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Division for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing & Late Deafened. Maine’s statewide network of CareerCenters provide one-stop employment resources for job seekers and employers.
For more information about hiring people with disabilities or identifying job training resources for people with disabilities, visit your local CareerCenter, call 1-888-457-8883 (TTY: 1-800-794-1110) or visit www.mainecareercenter.com .