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Assisting Providers and State Systems in Implementing Employment First Practices

December 21, 2016

In November, LEAD Center posted a Provider Transformation Issue Brief, Transforming Employment Services from Sheltered Work to Competitive, Integrated Employment for All Job Seekers with Disabilities, a product of the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP’s) Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). This brief is a useful and robust resource for providers and state systems on effective practices that have been implemented in different parts of the country to prioritize competitive integrated employment, over non-work and sheltered work options, as part of provider transformation.

This brief details the growing evidence that states such as Iowa and Tennessee, both supported by the EFSLMP, are making great strides in ensuring that any person who wants to work, no matter their disability, can do so.

All states are working to support provider transformation with goals of increasing the number of people with disabilities working in competitive integrated employment and reducing states’ reliance on segregated, sub-minimum wage work and non-work activities. To support those efforts, ODEP has articulated criteria for achieving cross-systems change as a pillar of Provider Transformation in its Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation. In order to achieve these results, top-down systems change strategies, combined with community-based, capacity-building activities, and initiated by key stakeholders, are necessary.

EFSLMP provides training and technical assistance that focuses on the facilitators of cross-systems change that are identified in the brief and that align with the National Baldrige Model’s Criteria for Performance Excellence. These include strengthened leadership; assistance in strategic planning; maintaining a focus on customers, the workforce, and operations aligned with the transformation goal; focusing on results; and engaging in ongoing measurement, analysis, and knowledge management.

Four related Employment First Technical Briefs are posted on the LEAD Center website, as are extensive Customized Employment and Workforce Development resources.