Hello everyone! Well the 3rd Employment First Summit has a month of history behind it. But I am still hearing great things about it! It certainly was a great day for everyone! We learned about the Employment First efforts from other states and agencies. We heard how states have changed policies to support more inclusive employment. We had two states represented that have Employment First laws.
We have a lot of work to do here in Iowa. But we also have a great number of folks who are interested in supporting the Employment First efforts. There is a lot of momentum now so we must keep it going!
In case you missed it, the Power Point Presentations used during the day are on the IA-APSE web site at http://www.iowa-apse.org under the 3rd Employment First Summit Recap.
As Sherry Becker says “Talk it up”!
You know when Iowa began its’ Employment First Initiative, the rumor quickly spread that it was all about closing sheltered workshops. The truth of the matter is, Employment First is not about closing anything. It is about ensuring that employment in the general workforce is considered first, before other more restrictive options are put on the table. It is about aligning beliefs, funding, policies and practices with this concept. Except for Vocational Rehabilitation dollars, Iowa spends much more on segregated vocational services than integrated services. Approximately 71% of Medicaid dollars go to facility based work services vs. 29% for services in the community. The Employment First Initiative believes this needs to be changed.
It is clear there are providers in Iowa who want to provide more community employment and there are Iowans working in sheltered workshops who could work in the community. But the way the current system is, that is almost impossible.
IA-APSE welcomes your comments and thoughts about Iowa’s Employment First Initiative. Feel free to leave a comment!
IA-APSE is the state chapter of national APSE. APSE is the only the only national organization focused exclusively on employment of people with disabilities in the community. Like the national, the Iowa Chapter focuses on increasing the number of individuals with disabilities employed in the community.
Becoming a member of APSE is simple. Go to the national web-page and click on Join APSE. As a member of the national organization, you automatically become a member of our state chapter. Yes, it is necessary to be a member of national. There are no “state-only” memberships.
The Work Group members meeting February 3, 2011 and finalized the vision and mission for the IA Employment First Initiative.
Vision: Iowans with disabilities are employed at the same rate as other Iowans and receiving equal benefits.
Mission: To change beliefs, practices, systems and funding and so that employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred outcome in the provision of publicly funded services for all working age Iowans with disabilities, regardless of level of disability.
These will be guiding the work for this Initiative for the next year.