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 Disability Program Navigator: Navigator Frequently Asked Questions 

16(Basic)  How can I assist individuals with disabilities to access services within the One-Stop system and in the community without doing case management?

(Updated January 2010 , DPN Bi-weekly FAQ - 2-6-06. Modified from the 2005 DOL-SSA DPN FAQs)

The messages you relay about your role as Navigator are key to preventing direct referrals.  The role of a Navigator is to “guide One-Stop staff in helping people with disabilities access and navigate the complex provisions of various programs that impact their ability to gain/retain employment” (DOL/SSA Fact Sheet).  This definition can be used regularly when clarifying your role with One-Stop staff, management, and in the community.  Your marketing efforts should focus on how to access One-Stop services (not Navigator services) and One-Stop staff education should center on you as a consultant and problem-solver (not a front-line staff person).   Point out that although you will not regularly be providing direct service to individuals with disabilities, you can be counted on to research and answer specific questions about a broad range of topics without judgment. This means that follow through is critical in gaining trust as a reliable resource.

Having knowledge of a broad range of disability and community services, as well as streamlining referral processes with other agencies will also help prevent Navigators from doing case-management. Again, in developing these relationships and referral processes, ensure that the relationship and referral process is centered around the services and programs that the One-Stop Career Center offers and not your role as an individual Navigator. You will be less likely to offer direct services like vocational counseling, benefits counseling, or job coaching if you have established partnerships with other agencies that provide these types of services. Connecting customers with service providers who can provide individualized supports also allows One-Stop staff to focus on their primary role of helping customers secure employment.  You do not want to duplicate services or suggest that One-Stop staff offer support services that are offered by other agencies (plus, you don’t want the One-Stop to be seen as a competitor by other agencies that you are trying to partner with).  By training staff to collaborate more with other agencies and familiarize themselves with other resources, you can help impact a lot more people than you would be able to alone. Some questions to help you consider if your action is or is not case-management include: 

  • Have you met solely with the same customer multiple times? Is this because the person had multiple barriers, because the resources you passed on did not help, or for what other reasons?
  • After working together with One-Stop staff to identify and resolve barriers with a customer, can he/she be referred to another resource to meet his/her employment goals (i.e., WIA services, VR, transportation, Benefits Counselor, Independent Living Center etc.)?
  • Are you or staff duplicating specialized support services that are offered by other community service providers?
  • Is the type of assistance you provided to a customer something that can be or should be taught to One-Stop staff, keeping in mind the self-directed model of the system?
  • Are you and/or staff providing a reasonable accommodation for an individual or are you offering services above and beyond One-Stop obligations under WIA and the ADA?

Note to DPNs: If you have comments, suggestions or questions relating to the above topic, please email DJ Diamond at ddiamond@ndi-inc.org . They may be added to this FAQ and the archived one on the One-Stop Toolkit website.