Employment First is a national movement supported by the federal government and Minnesota agencies. It means competitive, integrated employment is the first and preferred outcome for all working-age people with disabilities, including people with complex and significant disabilities. Minnesota adopted an Employment First policy (PDF) as part of our Olmstead Plan in September 2014.
Competitive, integrated employment means a person:
Many people with disabilities want to work. A recent report published by the National Core Indicators© (PDF) showed the majority of Minnesotans with disabilities who are unemployed want a job but lacked a job goal in their service plans. Research, such as the NCI report, shows people with disabilities can be employed successfully in the general workforce given the right job match and supports. Employment offers people:
No. Each person’s decision to work is personal. It should be an informed choice, based on accurate information and experiences. Informed choice means people with disabilities are fully able to explore employment as an option.
The Minnesota Olmstead Plan includes activities our state must accomplish to ensure people with disabilities live, learn, work and enjoy life in the most integrated setting. The Olmstead Plan requires the state to create opportunities to work, but it does not force people with disabilities to work. The Employment First approach to provide choice is consistent with Olmstead principles. It is the strategy we will use to implement Olmstead priorities.
The Minnesota Association of People Supporting Employment First published “Myths and Realities of Employment First and Olmstead (PDF)” to address misconceptions and questions about what the Olmstead Plan and Employment First policy mean for people with disabilities.
Informed choice about employment means that a person:
People with disabilities, providers of services and lead agencies use Disability Benefits 101.
With DB101, people can explore ways to balance benefits and work. The site helps people learn how income might affect benefits so they can make informed choices, reduce fears and ensure work is part of the plan. This website gives tools, information and training on health coverage, benefits and employment. It also offers an online chat feature to a Disability Linkage Line expert.
Start by watching a short four-minute video, Making Work Part of the Plan (MWPP), and reviewing the MWPP discussion questions (PDF).
Next, review the best practices for success in employment document (PDF).
Then, watch the following videos to learn how to apply this information:
Minnesota Workforce Centers are state agencies that help people prepare, train and obtain employment. Vocational Rehabilitation Services in the Department of Employment and Economic Development provides a wide range of services and job training to people with disabilities who want to work.
If you have specific questions, email DSD.EmploymentFirst@state.mn.us.
The employment learning community is group designed to involve the public in our work and development of policy. The learning community may include:
This year, we seek new members to represent:
We want better employment outcomes for people with disabilities. We want people with disabilities to earn wages at or above minimum wage and to work alongside people without disabilities.
We talk about this as “competitive, integrated employment.” During the course of this work, the Minnesota Employment Learning Community will:
If you are interested in joining the employment learning community, please complete the MN Employment Learning Community Application, DHS-6936 (PDF). The form includes instructions for how to submit (mail or fax) the application. As seats become available, the group will consider additional applications.
Support to prepare for and attend meetings is available, if the employment learning community selects you to participate.
If you require help to complete this form, please email the DSD Response Center or call (651) 431-4300.
Terms of the membership are one or two years. People may participate for a maximum of three years.
Participating in the employment learning community will take about four hours per month:
The employment learning community is a voluntary group. The state provides no compensation for membership or travel.
Members who do not live in the metro area may join the meetings by phone. The employment learning community will provide more information if you are selected to participate.
If you have questions about integrated, competitive employment, Employment First or the Minnesota Employment Learning Community, email the Employment First team at DHS.