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Advancing Competitive Integrated Employment for Persons with Disabilities: Tips and Lessons Learned for State Government Leaders Interested in Promoting Gainful Employment as a Public Policy Goal

LEAD Center | February 2019 | Report/Brief

Holding a leadership role in state government is not for the faint-hearted. Whether state officials assume their role on a short-term basis or intend to make a career as a leader in state government, the expectations are high, the challenges are many, and the ever-changing political and fiscal landscapes in every state create some of the most challenging circumstances in which to try to achieve success. The circumstances are further complicated if a state official expects his/her tenure may be limited by administration changes, reorganization, or other factors beyond their control.

Many state officials bring tremendous expertise, experience, and insights to their roles, which greatly benefits the state in which they serve. Yet, it is still often the case that, because the breadth and depth of the work done by state agencies is so vast, there are almost certainly areas of focus that may be considered important, but for which a typical state leader does not possess unique expertise and experience. Still, most state leaders recognize the importance of these key areas of focus, share the sense of commitment to state programs achieving quality outcomes, and simply lack deep knowledge on the most effective strategies that can be implemented to enable state systems to achieve the improved outcomes that are desired.

One such area of focus that often creates challenges for state officials is employment of people with disabilities served by state programs. Most state leaders are supportive of improving employment opportunities and outcomes for residents with disabilities. In principle, this policy goal is a laudable one, and there is increasing federal law, regulation, and guidance affirming the critical importance of employment in the eyes of their federal partners. However, leading in this particular policy arena can be very challenging, even when leaders are supportive of the importance of employment opportunities and the need for public programs to improve outcomes.

This new brief, written by Lisa A Mills, Ph.D., LEAD Center Subject Matter Expert, discusses advancing competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities and provides tips and lessons learned for state government leaders interested in promoting gainful employment as a public policy goal