A critical priority for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), is to invest in systems change efforts that result in increased community-based, integrated employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities.

This priority reflects growing support for a national movement called Employment First, a framework for systems change that is centered on the premise that all citizens, including people with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life. ODEP defines integrated employment as work paid directly by employers at the greater of minimum or prevailing wages with commensurate benefits, occurring in a typical work setting where the employee with a disability interacts or has the opportunity to interact continuously with co-workers without disabilities, has an opportunity for advancement and job mobility, and is preferably engaged full-time.

The National Children’s Center (NCC) is committed to providing support, opportunity, and choice for people with disabilities to have employment in integrated community settings and to receive services in integrated settings that are available to all people. NCC is participating in a pilot program to support this transformation.

This transformation assistance is made possible through the District’s Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) pilot.

Objectives of the EFSLMP

The objectives of the EFSLMP are to:

• Provide mentoring, intensive technical assistance (TA) and training from a national pool of subject matter experts and peer mentors to core states as they transform existing policies, service delivery systems, and reimbursement structures to reflect an Employment First approach;
• Facilitate virtual training and knowledge translation on effective practices;
• Facilitate dialogue on shared experiences related to effectuating Employment First policies and practice;
• Link participating states with current Federal initiatives that are focused on promoting state-level systems-change conducive to Employment First objectives; and
• Evaluate the impacts of the investments in state Employment First systems change efforts over time to identify common challenges faced by State governments and validate innovative strategies and effective practices that lead to the successful implementation of Employment First objectives.

To learn more about Employment First, please visit: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/EmploymentFirst.htm