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Feds Redouble Disability Employment Efforts

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Two federal agencies are joining forces in an effort to expand employment among those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Under an agreement reached this week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities plan to work together to encourage broader adoption of so-called “employment first” policies.

The approach emphasizes integrated employment — where people with disabilities earn at least minimum wage working in environments where most employees are typically developing — as a first option for all individuals no matter how severe their needs.

The agencies plan to work together for at least the next two years to promote employment first by sharing information and resources, issuing joint policy statements and other efforts, according to the agreement.

Several states from Oregon to Delaware already have employment first policies or initiatives in place. By combining resources and working more closely together, officials at the Labor Department and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities say they hope to spur greater expansion.

“This agreement is an opportunity for ODEP and AIDD to work together to further disability employment practices and support state efforts to transform public systems so that they reflect integrated employment as a priority outcome for citizens with significant disabilities,” said Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

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Comments (8 Responses)

  1. Steven says:

    As a social worker with many years of experience with this population, a TBI advocate and as a current advocate for healthcare, it’s nice to see this fight continue. We need to make sure that we provide the access to the jobs, the support and whatever medical equipment that they need to be successful and support the people, policies and organizations that support them.

  2. Carolee says:

    It’s very encouraging to see powerful teamwork to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities under the Employment First Initiative. As more states adopt the initiative, hopefully this teamwork will expand and partnerships will be cultivated between government agencies, schools/educational institutions, non-profits, and businesses. There is a talent pool of 53 million Americans with disabilities, and many additional young people with disabilities who will transition into adulthood to become a potential part of the workforce pool. Partnerships that work to fully maximize this vast and underutilized group of individuals surely will benefit everyone in our communities all around.

  3. beverly grace says:

    I wish my state of Vermont actively employed some people with autism. Last time I checked they could identify no one with autism employed by the State of Vermont and their hiring practices do not lend themselves to hiring someone with autism because even if a person with ASD can do the job with minimal or no support the person with ASD might not have the social skills to compete in the “open” job market hiring process. So you may have a fully qualified person with ASD but they are never the first choice to hire because of their social skills or appearance. My college degree son has been turned down from many jobs that he has been interviewed for and the longer he doesn’t get work the less likely he will get work.

  4. Daniel Carvajal says:

    As a disabled advocate and being disabled myself, I have been unemployed for the past 3 years. Where are these initiatives?

  5. glenda says:

    I agree with daniel. it’s good that there are new policies. but in the real world persons with disabilities are the last to hired or can not find work that would be suited to their ability.. that the first hurdle to jump to finish so the goal is near. also, no one can support themselves on min. wage without gov’t support benefits.

  6. Theresa Rhodus says:

    So what happens when they make too much money and lose SSI and Medicaid benefits in these states? They can’t pay for their medical bills and housing/care facilities, and put food on the table with minimum wage.

  7. DC Matthews says:

    We, with average and high IQ, but physical disability, have a hard time too. For people with limited IQ, Why not set up some MFG biz and pay piecework? People do what they can , earn what they are able to ?

  8. Carolyn says:

    Where does this take place? I am disabled and my daughter is as well. We are suffering a great deal here in Boston. When will we actually have this?

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