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.
WorkSupport.com is a web portal from Virginia Commonwealth University that highlights and compiles the research and resources from projects across the university related to employment for people with disabilities. This includes the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities, Autism Center for Excellence, Collaborative Career Planning for Students with ASD, and the Center on Transition to Employment for Youth with Disabilities.
It includes video content and continuing education, like the video below about how to implement fading job place supports.
Virginia Commonwealth University Partnership for People with Disabilities is part of the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities supported by AUCD.
On May 29, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell signed legislation to make Alaska an “Employment First” state and ensure that state agencies and school districts prioritize employment as a first option for individuals with disabilities. Learn more on the Alaska.gov announcement.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Maryland is now the third state to implement the Community First Choice Option! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have approved Maryland’s Medicaid State Plan Amendment and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has begun to offer person assistant services, self-direction, and other home and community-based services under the Community First Choice Program. Combined with Maryland’s expansion of Medicaid, CFC will extend needed community-based supports without a waiting list to many more Maryland residents who need them.
Where do Other States Stand?
Montana has submitted a state plan amendment (SPA), Colorado has convened a council and feasibility study, and Arkansas, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, and Wisconsin have all indicated that they plan to participate in CFCO in 2014. Stay tuned for more news!
Learn where your state stands and what they can do better to promote early childhood development with these tools:
See how your state is doing in the area of early childhood by looking at data available from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC). The ECDC’s 2013 Early Childhood Data Systems Survey revealed states’ capacity to link child-level data, collect child development data, and governance of coordinated early childhood data systems varied. Observing the ECDC data is another way to assess changes in your state.
To promote a more coordinated approach to meeting the developmental needs of children, the Screening, Early Identification, Referral, Intake, Evaluation, and Services (SERIES) model was developed as a way to promote shared responsibility for helping each child successfully completes the entire pathway from screening to services. Check out the SERIES model as an example of how states can approach supporting child development.
To implement the Community First Choice Option (CFC), states must submit to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) an amendment to their state Medicaid plan. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, two states – Oregon and California – have had state plan amendments (SPAs) approved by CMS. Two more states – Maryland and Arizona – have submitted SPAs. Four more – Montana, New York, Arkansas, and Minnesota – have indicated that they are planning to submit a SPA for CFCO this year.