How State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (Councils) can Invest Effectively in Employment Systems Change and Provider Transformation Efforts

From a historical perspective, Developmental Disability (DD) Councils and provider organizations  have often operated on parallel tracks that rarely intersected. State Councils were established as  early as 1970, when states were required to establish State Planning and Advisory Councils and were further defined in the Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, at which time  councils became independent in their work and committed to community-based living. Provider  organizations, many of which were founded by parents seeking a safe and supportive environment  for their adult family members with disabilities, often operated in facility-based settings which  focused on providing supportive social and pre-vocational services to people with disabilities.  These historical and philosophical differences created an “us” versus “them” environment in many  states, whereby many councils did not see any alignment with providers who historically operated  in facility-based settings and paid sub-minimum wages to workers with disabilities. With the  movement towards Employment First, and the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and  Opportunity Act (WIOA) and federal Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) regulation, the potential for Councils to collaborate with providers in a variety of ways by finding alignment in  the mutual goal of improving community access and inclusion and identifying the intersections in  how they could support systems-change efforts has become apparent.

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