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!