Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council Employment Initiatives

Even though persons with developmental disabilities want to go to work and continue to be contributing members to the workforce, national statistics indicate that persons with developmental disabilities experience significantly higher unemployment rates than their peers without disabilities. The Missouri DD Council is committed to supporting many statewide efforts to close this gap so that persons with disabilities are more represented in Missouri's diverse workforce. The Missouri DD Council invests funds towards statewide efforts that contribute to expanding opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities to get and keep competitive jobs in integrated work settings. It is believed that by enhancing knowledge around developmental disabilities, supports and resources for job-seekers and employees with developmental disabilities that this will contribute to more employment opportunities and successes for persons with disabilities in the workplace.

MODDC position on employment and sub-minimum wage

In partnership with others, the MODDC will promote competitive, community based employment which we define as: jobs that occur in the community for at least minimum wage, at typical community businesses where employees with and without disabilities work in close proximity to each other, and have the same benefits, responsibilities and expectations. The MODDC believes that all people who want to work can work with the right supports. That all people have a responsibility to share their abilities, strengths and talents with others in the community, to make their community a better place

Please contact Chaz Nickolaus at cnickolaus@moddcouncil.org or 800-500-7878 for more information about employment of persons with developmental disabilities or the Council's employment initiatives.

Current Council Employment Initiatives:

Missouri DB 101:  Missouri Disability benefits 101 is a Free on-line, Missouri Specific Disability calculator that allows people to anonymously see how income from a job might affect their benefits. Those benefits could include food stamps, Social Security, healthcare, housing and others. The site is maintained and constantly updated by the World Institute on Disabilities, out of the University of CA-Berkley. Along with the work benefits calculator there is a calculator for students 18 and under and 8 content pages on topics such as Social security work Incentives and new to benefits, check it out at:  http://mo.db101.org/

Past Council Employment Initiatives:

Asset Development and Financial Education:  Persons with disabilities have a higher percentage of people who live in poverty than any other minority group in the country. Missouri ranks in the bottom third of all states in the understanding of financial supports that assist persons with disabilities in working their way out of poverty. Benefits planning and employment are just two pieces in this puzzle, the other pieces are asset development and financial education, therefore, the Missouri DD Council is partnering with the TACE, Region 7/University of MO-School of Health Professionals to promote Asset Development and Financial Education for persons with disabilities in our state by offering a variety of opportunities to learn more about this important piece of the puzzle and help people with disabilities learn more about asset development and financial education.

The first opportunity was a free webinar. (The recording of that webinar is included here.) In early 2014 we will be offering two opportunities to learn more with "train-the-trainer" events. This will be followed up by a statewide summit where members from the financial community will meet with a broader group of advocates, family members and other members from the disability community to develop an action plan that will continue this effort into the future.

Organizational Change, Making the Move:  Employment Solutions (the Conversion of Facility-based Services to Community-based Employment):  Over the course of the last 20 years, national policy has increasingly emphasized greater participation by individuals with disabilities in the labor force. The establishment of the Presidential Taskforce on Employment of Adults with Disabilities passage of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Ticket-to-Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999; amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act; and changes to Medicaid regulations were all intended to expand access to employment for individuals with disabilities.  Yet, despite these and other policy initiatives, 75 percent of people with developmental disabilities in the US remain unemployed; 72 percent say they want to go to work; yet only 32 percent of all people with disabilities of working age (18-64) work full or part time, compared to 81 percent of people without disabilities (2000 National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) and (Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities). Every day, people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities transition to adulthood without a job or are relegated to non-employment situations or receive very low wages in congregate settings.

In April of 2009 the Council supported the development of collaborative partnerships with organizations that currently provide facility-based segregated employment and/or day habilitation programs that wish to embrace an Employment-First Policy that values competitive, community-based employment for individuals with disabilities above all other services and convert their services to be employment-focused. The Council identified two day habilitation program providers (the Arc of the Ozarks, Springfield, and Triality, Liberty -- and a later project with Life Skills, St. Louis) who were ready to restructure their organizational systems and services to support individuals with disabilities to obtain a job in their communities that is fully integrated and competitive. The Council collected extensive data throughout this project to aid in future replication of the project. To learn more contact Charles "Chaz" Nickolaus.

Employment Links & Resources:

The Career Planning Guide:  A Guide for Career Discovery (PDF)   A workbook specifically designed to assist job seekers in figuring out what they want to do, what skills they have and how best to find the job they are interested in.  The guide will take a job seeker and their support team through the career planning process by providing information they can use during the career planning sessions.  It should be noted that since each person in unique that each planning session will be unique as well.  The guide is simply a framework to allow the job seeker to create a vision and a plan to achieve a career that makes sense to them.  It is less about the forms and more about generating ideas, clear action steps and moving the person closer to their career goals.

Real Lives, Real Jobs:  Stories of Successful Employment of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Download PDFour collection of successful stories of employment! This booklet features the stories of 10 Missourians with developmental disabilities that had an intense desire for productive employment in the community. Each person tells their story of how they overcame barriers and made their dream of employment a reality. To request that a copy be sent to you email Chaz Nickolaus cnickolaus@moddcouncil.org or call 800-500-7878.

State Employment Leadership Network (SELN)
The Missouri DD Council is partnering with the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities, in bringing the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) to Missouri. This is a project started by the Institute for Community Inclusion out of Boston, Massachusetts.  SELN brings together state developmental disability agencies for sharing, educating and providing guidance on practices and policies around employment to its members.  it is also an opportunity for the Division of Developmental Disabilities and other Missouri governmental agencies to evaluate their policies and procedures as they relate to assisting persons with developmental disabilities to become employed.

Missouri's Take Your Legislator to Work Day:  "One Person at a Time"  The Missouri Chapter of the Alliance for Full Participation has developed a campaign to promote competitive community employment in Missouri -- Invite Your Legislator to Work!  There are several tips and tools listed below to make this a stress-free and successful event.

Other Important Employment Links

  • APSE-MO is the Missouri State Chapter of APSE The Network on Employment, a national organization committed to improving and expanding integrated employment opportunities, services, and outcomes for people experiencing disabilities. APSE-MO invites individuals with disabilities, their families, employment providers, funders, employers and others to join them in making community employment a reality for ALL people with disabilities.
  • Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)

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