Six by ’15 is about working together to make things happen. That’s why we’re happy to post this story from the Minnesota Association of People Supporting Employment First.
This is Minnesota’s Story: The End of the Beginning
On June 11, 2007, a group of more than 100 leaders representing government, education, community-based service providers, business, and disability advocacy organizations gathered in Chaska, Minnesota to begin planning a coordinated strategy to increase the competitive employment and economic development goals of Minnesotans with a wide array of disabilities.
The goals outlined in the summary report of the summit (later known as the Employment First Manifesto) were to:
- Establish Minnesota as a national leader in promoting the employment of adults with disabilities.
- Continue an ongoing dialogue and connection among Minnesota’s Employment First champions.
- Launch an Employment First vision and public policy for all Minnesotans living with disabilities.
- Launch “Communities of Practice” Demonstrations.
- Develop training & technical assistance resources to redirect and execute an Employment First vision.
Over 2000 copies of the Manifesto were printed and disseminated. In addition the Manifesto was downloaded over 10,000 times. Employment First was defined for the first time and this definition was used in nearly every other Employment First Policy or Executive Order around the country over the next 7 years.
The MN Employment First Coalition went on to host 4 more summits, 3 statewide conferences, and many more listening sessions, and they were the leaders in continuing the dialogue among Employment First Champions.
The MN Employment Training and Technical Assistance Center was founded in 2009 and has been providing training and technical assistance across the state of MN and in many other states ever since. In addition, part of at least two state funded grant projects included Employment Communities of Practice.
Thank you to the MN Employment First Coalition for making this once impossible dream a reality. Now the hard work of implementing this policy must begin.
On Wednesday, October 15th, the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware – in cooperation with the Delaware Departments of Health an Social Services, Education, and Vocational Rehabilitation – hosted a Disability Mentoring Day. Liz Weintraub, a policy staff from AUCD, gave the keynote address, speaking about her experiences in job-seeking and how she found her jobs though networking. She told the audience of students with disabilities, “don’t settle for just any job, just because you have a disability. Find a job that you are happy in.” After Liz spoke, the students had opportunity to job shadow at different locations in the community of Newark, Delaware, to see what kind of jobs they might like to have. Watch this video about Disability Mentoring Day here. At the end of the day, students and mentors gathered again to hear Governor Markel speak about the power of believing in people with disabilities. “Our expectation for young people with disabilities is that they get job exploration experiences like Disability Mentoring Day,” Gov. Markell said. “We know that young people who participate in such transition services are more engaged in planning their careers and will be ready for the world of work.” Watch a Q&A with Governor Markell.
The Developmental Disabilities Network – Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc., the Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University, and the Developmental Disabilities Council – released their Employment First report at a press conference in September outlining the employment circumstances of Michiganders with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, whose daughter has autism, spoke at the event, saying “We are not talking about charity here. We are talking about people that have something important and valuable and productive to add to our community and to our economy, to Michigan.”
The report finds that 60 percent of individuals with disabilities in Michigan want a job in their community, but only 17 percent of them have one. Most of those who are employed – over 8,000 Michigan citizens – are earning below minimum wage and making an average of $2.75 an hour.
The Michigan DD Network calls on the Michigan state legislature to enact Employment First legislation that recognizes and assumes that individuals with disabilities, with the proper supports and accommodations, can earn a fair and prevailing wage alongside individuals without disabilities in fully integrated settings.
The NY State Department of Health Disability and Health Program is an example of how other states commit to including people with disabilities as an explicit target population in all state public health programs. NY started by looking at the NIH policy on inclusion. Then they moved onto create an inclusion policy for NY State Department of Health efforts. This inclusion policy was used as a guide to tailor specific requests for proposals, such as the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention effort or the Pediatric Obesity in Health Care Settings program. When you are looking through these RFPs, search “disab” to pick up all instances of how people with disabilities are included as an explicit target population.
As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) will be conducting a state-led Take Your Legislator to Work Day campaign.Take Your Legislator to Work Day encourages employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) to visit their workplace to show first-hand the power of community-integrated employment for people with disabilities. The objective of this campaign is to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities and the belief that employment and careers should be the expected and preferred outcomes of all publicly funded services for individuals with disabilities.
Want to do this in your state? Learn more with the Take Your Legislator To Work Day Campaign Toolkit.
Partnerships between health care providers and community organizations could have a significant impact on health and developmental outcomes by assisting with early identification, supporting parents, and coordinating needed services in a timely manner. One successful example of such a partnership is led by 211 LA County.
Learn more about how LA County is improving developmental screening:
The Six by ’15 campaign aims to raise visibility of ways that states are improving the lives of people with disabilities and achieving the Six by ’15 goals. To that end, we will be posting examples of innovative state leaders on each of our goals, in a new series we’re calling Do This in Your State!
Oregon is leading in innovative approaches to increasing early childhood screening rates. Here’s how Judy Newman, Co-Director of Early Childhood CARES at the University of Oregon UCEDD describes their work:
The developmental screening was originally focused on the START training in doctors offices around the state. The START program is still providing many trainings around the state in addition to other screening efforts focused on medical professionals, childcare providers, and agency staff. Developmental screening is very much a statewide priority. One of the main objectives of the developmental screening initiative is to identify children needing help as early as possible and linking them with needed services and supports in their community. The early learning system, through the newly formed Early Learning Hubs are working to make sure this happens. A very important aspect of ensuring that referrals are made to appropriate services as soon as possible, is having up-to-date and easily accessible information about local services and supports. This is currently being done through our 211 info and 211 info Family a line specifically for parents of young children, Calls and texts are free, live and confidential. The line is staffed by master’s level professionals who also have the benefit of leveraging the 211info network database with thousands of community resources. They respond to inquiries about child development and behavioral strategies, school readiness and success, family stress and anxiety, parent support groups, playgroups, basic family resources.
This brief shares their experiences in working in these areas of screening and services – from building baseline data to tracking through to services. Developmental Screening in Oregon- 2014
Learn how parts of Help Me Grow were incorporated into Oregon’s early detection system (the ABCD & ABCD III projects, the START project, the “211 info” line): Oregon Help Me Grow Replication