Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (W.I.O.A.)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act is a new regulation under federal law that started on July 22, 2016. This new work rule provides choices to individuals who are earning less than the minimum wage at least once a year, to learn about the services and supports available to assist them in obtaining competitive, integrated employment.

SMILES Center for Independent Living is an advocacy based organization and has no financial stake in the WIOA process. The SMILES advocacy team works as the designee for Vocational Rehabilitation Services to carry out this process so individuals are informed of their choices.

The SMILES advocacy team provides information meetings to people participating in sub-minimum wage employment and their parents/guardians when applicable, and facilitating conversations around pursuing competitive employment.

1. STEP ONE:

There are two options – attend one information session or watch an online presentation which provides background on what the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act means.

2. STEP TWO:

Individuals will be required to schedule an informed choice conversation (allow 10-15 minutes) during the times listed below. Individuals will meet with an advocate from SMILES Center for Independent Living to have a person-centered conversation and complete the required form. Please call SMILES ASAP at 507-345-7139 to schedule an informed choice conversation.

This conversation is designed to help individuals make an informed choice about whether or not to pursue competitive, integrated employment. In these conversations, individuals can respond in any of three ways:

  • Yes: I am interested in pursuing competitive, integrated employment and earning the minimum wage or higher.
  • No: I am not interested in pursuing competitive, integrated employment and earning the minimum wage or higher.
  • Refusal: I do not want to participate in the informed choice process.  Indicating a refusal means you are ineligible to continue to receive subminimum (special) wages.

Questions?  Please contact the SMILES Center for Independent Living advocacy team:

Lacey Wegner
Advocacy Manager
507-345-7139 Ext. 207
lwegner@smilescil.org

Lisa Truebenbach
Advocate
507-345-7139 Ext. 220
ltruebenbach@smilescil.org

Abigail Jones
Advocate
507-345-7139 Ext. 221
ajones@smilescil.org

W.I.O.A. Resources