The Department of Labor has named the members of its new Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. The Committee is part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law on July 22, 2014. Members of the committee will research ways to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for people with intellectual, developmental and other significant disabilities. The committee will also prepare recommendations about the special wage certificate program under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits employers to pay workers with disabilities subminimum wages under specific conditions. Federal members of the Committee include representatives from the Department of Labor, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (including the Administration on Community Living), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration and Social Security Administration.
At its first meeting on January 22-23, the Advisory Committee discussed and heard testimony on the importance of Medicaidfunded services such as transportation, independent living services and supported employment in assisting people to find and maintain competitive, integrated employment. Testimony included discussion on ways that new regulations on Medicaidfunded home and community-based services could increase opportunities to maximize availability of supports necessary for community living and supported employment services, which will enable access to the full breadth of competitive integrated employment opportunities. The final rule and accompanying guidelines will be critical for state agencies and service providers responsible for transitioning people with disabilities into housing and employment settings compliant with the regulations.
The Department of Labor received more than 280 nominations for public membership on the committee, which includes both private citizens representing particular stakeholders as well as federal officials. The 17 members appointed include three self-advocates alongside representatives of employment services providers, national disability advocacy organizations, academia and employer organizations. The committee’s members are required to meet eight times annually, and must submit an initial report to the Secretary of Labor within one year.