Wisconsin’s Developmental Disabilities Services agency and Vocational Rehabilitation agency, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and Wisconsin’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, implemented a series of community conversations to build dialogue and create a coalition around employment for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Through this initiative, a range of community members came together in structured forums to discuss ways to improve integrated employment outcomes for youth.
What follows below are State Agency Promising Practices from the Access To Integrated Employment project that exemplify excellent communication strategies and implementation to improve employment outcomes. We define Communication more specifically as:
- Practices that exemplify shared, multi-level, multi-stakeholder communication as the norm, as well as timely and appropriate communication of core organizational values and message. Communication involves the engagement of all IDD agency constituents including families, employers, and other community or state level organizations.
In 2007, the State of Connecticut’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS) partnered with the self-advocacy group People First of Connecticut to develop Employment Idol, an innovative project for promoting employment as the preferred outcome for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (ID/DD) in the state. Spinning off the concept of the popular television show American Idol, Connecticut’s Employment Idol showcases the employment success stories of a select group of individuals with ID/DD.
The State of Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) created a monthly newsletter called The Employment Update, which covers state- and nationwide news about the employment of people with disabilities, including intellectual/developmental disabilities. The Employment Update is sent via email to state agency contacts and a large stakeholder community, including individuals with disabilities, service providers, state associations, employers, advocacy groups, family members, representatives from academia and others.
In 2009, the state of Oregon adopted its Employment First policy. When Oregon's Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) decided to promote the implementation of this policy, it began by updating its existing employment website. The redesigned website (http:// www.dhs.state.or.us/dd/supp_emp/) emphasizes the value of integrated employment over other outcomes, and the importance of building community-wide conversations, with the goal of achieving integrated employment for people with developmental disabilities.
The Nevada Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities sought to engage community stakeholders and acquire knowledge to further the employment agenda by funding three regional summits. Using the State Employment Leadership Network's (SELN)* self- assessment preliminary findings as a basis, the summit steering committee created a framework for summit participants.
New Hampshire's Bureau of Developmental Services, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, other state and local service providers, advocates, and families are committed to increasing the employment rate and the quality of employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. These stakeholders met to craft an employment position statement. They framed their discussions according to factors that research has found to be common to "high-performing" states in providing integrated employment opportunities.