Employment First – A Look Back

For many people the end of the year is a time of self-reflection and envisioning the future. It also provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the national and statewide changes, over the last decade, that supported Employment First and the full community participation of people with developmental disabilities.

2008: Developmental Disabilities Administration Employment First policy

The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) engage stakeholders in an intensive strategic planning process, including strategies to improve employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities in Maryland.

The DDA believes that all people with developmental disabilities CAN work and contribute to their community when given the opportunity, training and support that build on people’s strengths. Employment is the first option for all working age people who receive DDA services.

2012: Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Community of Practice 

Under its ePolicyWorks initiative, ODEP launches an Employment First Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of more than 200 participants across 25 states. The CoP includes a monthly webinar series as well as a virtual work space where CoP participants can collaborate on policy initiatives.

2014: Maryland Employment Data Initiative 

The DDA and the State Employment Leadership Network create a robust data collection system to measure employment progress. The data system helps the DDA and stakeholders develop the support and infrastructure to fulfill the vision and goals of Maryland’s Employment Services, improve participation in integrated employment and the quality of employment outcomes.

2014: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

WIOA is landmark legislation designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help Americans, including people with disabilities, obtain high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.

2014: Medicaid Home and Community Based Settings Final Settings Rule 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new rules for Medicaid-funded home and community-based services (HCBS), or “The Settings Rule.” Each state has until March 2022 to fully follow these rules. The rule requires (in part) that all settings:

  • Be integrated in, and help provide full access to, the greater community
  • Improve self-determination and independence in making life choices
  • Be chosen by the individual from among residential and day options, including settings that are not only for people with disabilities (called “non-disability specific settings”)
  • Provide an opportunity to work in a typical job in the community (called “competitive integrated employment”)

2016: Ken Capone Equal Employment Act 

The Ken Capone Equal Employment Act (EEA) phases out the use of sub-minimum wages for Marylanders with disabilities by September 2020. The legislation made Maryland the second U.S. state to eliminate use of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Click HERE to read the 2019 phase out report.

2018: Meaningful Day Service Transformation 

The DDA transformation includes changes to its Day and Employment Services with new services to support the varying needs of people. New services are set to phase in by July 2020