Helping State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (Councils) Accelerate their Employment First Systems-Change Efforts

The primary goal of Employment First– aligning policy, practice, and resources across multiple systems of government to prioritize competitive integrated employment (CIE) as the preferred outcome of publicly-financed supports and services — is no small endeavor. However, we are at a pivotal time with respect to the degree of federal focus around disability employment policy. The 2014 publication of the federal Home and Community Services Settings Rule and the subsequent passage of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunities Act provided an unprecedented alignment of federal policy prioritizing the employment, independent living, and community integration of people with disabilities across education, workforce development, and long-term services and supports systems. Parallel to enactment of these landmark legislative and regulatory policies, several Olmstead v. LC settlement agreements related to state compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prioritized access to employment in the most integrated setting and solidified a solid civil rights framework that would support bold and aggressive Employment First systems-change efforts across the country.

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