Monday, July 18, 2011

New State of California "Employment First" Policy

To All Advocates:

On July 27, 2011, the State Council on Developmental Disabilities will vote on an “Employment First” Policy for California. That policy will be recommended to the Legislature to become law in California. The Employment First policy has a very good intent – to improve employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities.

The Arc strongly supports the effort to improve employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. And we certainly support our friends at the State Council. But we have a difference of opinion about what is the best wording for an Employment First policy for California. The State Council will vote for this wording to become law in California:

“It is the policy of the State of California that integrated competitive employment is the priority outcome for working age individuals with developmental disabilities. In plain language: WORK IS FOR ALL”.

We object to this wording because, in California, every person with an intellectual and developmental disability has the right, through the IPP, to determine his or her own goals. In California, the State is not supposed to tell people what their “priority outcome” must be. We know there are people who believe that anyone who objects to the proposed wording is just trying to protect the status quo. If the status quo is the IPP, we agree!

We want a strong Employment First policy that improves employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, without weakening the right of every individual to determine his or her own goals through the Individual Program Plan (IPP) process.

The Arc of California is urging the State Council to adopt an alternative statement – one that respects the IPP and the individual’s right to choose. We invite you to do the same. Please see the sample below.

Please share your comments with the State Council before they vote on July 27!

Send an e-mail to:

Write to: State Council on Developmental Disabilities

1507 21st Street, Suite 210

Sacramento, CA 95811

Be sure to request that all Council members receive a copy of your message.


Dear State Council on Developmental Disabilities;

I am writing to express opposition to the draft Employment First policy unless it is amended. Please transmit my comments to all members of the council.

The Arc of San Francisco strongly believes in paid employment and the competitive labor market. The Arc closed its sheltered workshops 8 years ago to promote the inclusion of our clients in paid employment.

But the policy as written subverts the right of people with developmental disabilities to set their developmental goals through the IPP process.

The draft policy does not account for the state’s own actions in continually reducing funding for employment programs that have significantly reduced our capacity to provide the employment and job placement services presumed available by the Employment First policy.

The draft policy does not account for the state’s dismal performance generating new jobs and economic growth, placing people with developmental disabilities at even further disadvantage when pursuing paid employment in a competitive labor market.

The draft policy does not account for the state’s failure to provide a free, appropriate public education for youth with developmental disabilities that adequately prepares students for paid employment when they leave school.

The draft policy does not account for people with developmental disabilities who can afford not to have paid employment, are too sick to have regular paid employment, or wish to pursue higher education through community college or 4-year institution.

The draft Employment First policy will not create any new jobs or new placements in paid employment for clients served by The Arc of San Francisco. The draft policy will subvert choice for people with developmental disabilities in California.

Please vote NO and adopt a policy that respects individual choice and the IPP.


Alan S. Fox, M.P.A.

Chief Operating Officer