Health & Disability Advocates




Through its numerous workforce development projects, HDA works to expand and strengthen programs that enable people with disabilities to enter or re-enter the workforce and maximize self-sufficiency. The organization advocates on the local, state, and national levels to ensure that crucial public benefits programs are structured in such a way that individuals with disabilities are encouraged to seek and maintain employment.  HDA's workforce development projects include:

HDA is the founder and convener of the National Consortium for Health Systems Development (NCHSD), a technical assistance partnership of states that have joined together to assist state Medicaid agencies, workforce development agencies, legislatures, consumers and advocates in their efforts to share information and build competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. NCHSD promotes state-to-state information sharing, provides individualized technical assistance, and disseminates best practices to a broad range of stakeholders around the country. This unique partnership is member-driven, and its work provides HDA with a solid perspective on the challenges facing state Medicaid agencies.

Through its Work Incentives Support Center (WISC), HDA provides training and technical assistance on the impact of employment income on Social Security Administration benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and other federal and state public benefits. WISC also works with government agencies, advocates, and service providers to ensure that these benefits systems properly implement their work-incentives programs. It enables individuals in Illinois to receive direct assistance on how work affects benefits and learn more about self-employment opportunities in their communities.

The Self-Employment Resources Network (SERN) seeks to locate self-employment resources, translate those resources into user-friendly terms, facilitate networking opportunities, and to identify best practice procedures for interested persons with disabilities wanting to be self-employed.  To learn more about SERN, go to its website -

The Rural Illinois Customized Employment Sustainability Project (RICES) is an investment of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities and is a collaborative project operated by Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC (GHA), Health & Disability Advocates (HDA), and Marc Gold & Associates (MG&A).  Operating from May 2008 - April 2011, RICES is intended to build lasting capability throughout Illinois by creating capacity for leveraging generic community resources, multiple funding braids, cooperative relationships, and inventive service delivery through the demonstration and stabilization of Customized Employment through both wage and self-employment in rural communities.  

Customized Employment is a growing option for many individuals with significant disabilities and GHA, MG&A and HDA will assist organizations to build capacity for improving employment outcomes and increasing financial independence for all job seekers.  Starting with the Discovery process for each unique job seeker, Customized Employment offers the greatest potential for the widest array of individualized employment opportunities including wage-employment, self-employment, and/or resource owenership.

Phase I RICES sites were: Charleston Transitional Facility, Charleston; Clay County Rehabilitation Services in Flora; Jefferson County Comprehensive Services in Mt. Vernon; and Streator Unlimited, Inc. in Streator.  Each site recruited 4 individuals to receive Customized Employment.

Phase II RICES sites include a regional initiative representing a partnership of three community service providers in LaSalle County and a job seeker / family cooperative initiative in the Edwardsville / Alton area.  Both projects represent new collaborations to increase employment opportunities through the implementation of the Customized Employment strategy. 

More information on these HDA programs and other ongoing workforce development activities is available in this section of the HDA website.

Online Library

HDA has a wide variety of documents related to workforce development in our online Materials Library.

Here are some of the valuable resources you'll find there:

SSI and Medicaid for Transition Age Youth

This fact sheet describes the Medicaid and SSI programs for children who are approaching transition age and starting to think about moving from school into the adult service world. It offers short descriptions of the SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare programs and their eligibility criteria. It also lists resources on work incentives and the Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities program.

2010 Work Incentives Training DRS Application

This is the application for DRS Representatives interested in participating in the 2010 Work Incentives Trainings.

2010 Work Incentives Training Flyer

This Flyer describes the 2010 Work Incentives Trainings.

Web Resources

HDA also maintains a list of Links with many other websites and online resources on workforce development.