What is the Employment First Initiative?

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employment first initiative

The ability to do work, to earn a wage, and support oneself is a laudable goal. In many cases, work results in self-sufficiency, independence, dignity, purpose, and even meaning in one’s life.  

For many disabled individuals, there are a lot of obstacles to obtaining a job both due to the individual’s own abilities and because employers are not equipped to accommodate a person with a disability, even though the person with a disability could be a very productive member of the workplace.  

Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy has created something called the Employment First initiative. In this article, we are going to talk about the initiative, its objectives, and give an example of its implementation in several states. Importantly, this kind of initiative requires the help of certified vocational evaluators, so that disabled persons will be able to smoothly transition to a job that is ready to make adjustments for the person’s disability.    

If, after reviewing this article, you have additional questions about certified vocational evaluators, we invite you to contact us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. – OAS.   

We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.

What is Employment First?

The Office of Disability Employment Policy in the U.S. Department of Labor made it a priority to invest in efforts that will increase community-based employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities. This priority became a national movement that is called Employment First, which is a framework for change that is focused on this singular premise:

All citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.

Accordingly, Employment First encourages states to focus their policies, services, and payment structures on employment services for young people and adults with significant disabilities. That does not mean make-work jobs.  Rather, the objective is for people with disabilities to do work paid directly by employers at the greater of minimum or prevailing wages with benefits.  

Further, the goal is for people with disabilities to be in a setting where they can interact with co-workers, and have opportunities for promotions and other “typical” work-related experiences.  

State Leadership Mentoring on Employment First

In order to help the 50 states prepare to engage meaningfully with the Employment First initiative, the  Office of Disability Employment Policy has created the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program. This program consists of federal officials working directly with state officials to help states put all the proper resources in place to make sure that Employment First can become a reality for the disabled residents of those interested states. 

Here are the stated objectives of the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring program:

1. Give mentoring, technical assistance, and training to states so subject matter experts can help states transform their public policies to support the Employment First approach;
2. Provide virtual training on best practices;
3. Facilitate an ongoing dialogue on improving rollout and administration of the state’s Employment First program;
4. Connect states with each other to foster more efficient and effective Employment First results; and
5. Help evaluate the efficacy of each state’s Employment First systems to overcome challenges and better meet the goals of the Employment First initiative.

An Example State – New Jersey

To provide an example of how the Employment First approach is being rolled out by the various states in the country, let us take a quick look at an early adopter state – New Jersey.

The Garden State became an “Employment First” state in April 2012. Thus, New Jersey committed to ensuring that competitive employment is the first and preferred post-education activity for everyone, including people with disabilities. New Jersey was aggressive in partnering with the private sector to make sure that people with disabilities seamlessly became a part of the state’s workforce.  

New Jersey recognized, as do all of the states and the federal government involved with Employment First, that taking some extra effort to make sure that people with disabilities are productive members of the workforce has a host of benefits.  

1. It promotes diversity and an inclusive workplace;
2. It expands the tax base for the state;
3. It allows for a bigger pool of qualified candidates in the job market;
4. It empowers those with disabilities;
5. It reduces poverty;
6. It can provide people with a well-earned sense of achievement.

One big piece of the puzzle with Employment First is knowing how to facilitate a person with disabilities joining a private employer’s workplace, including how much personal information to share and how to make slight adjustments to accommodate an employee’s needs. Those assessments can be made by a certified vocational evaluator. Indeed, certified vocational evaluator specialists receive certification by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling in order to do this important work.  

Contact the Certified Vocational Evaluators at OAS 

The experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience documenting the income potential and employment capacity of those with wrongful termination cases, as well as with the underemployed, unemployed, and disabled spouses in many types of cases

OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented. 

We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys. 

The company specializes in assisting attorneys in evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.

OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.  

Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.