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With An Eye to the Future

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2014: Minnesota Employment First Policy is Adopted

Employment First means raising the expectation that all working age Minnesotans with disabilities can work, want to work, and can achieve competitive integrated employment; and that each person will be offered the opportunity to work and earn a competitive wage before being offered other supports and services.

The State of Minnesota is committed that all Minnesotans including those with disabilities have a wide range of employment opportunities within the general workforce. To that end, the Olmstead Subcabinet adopted the Minnesota Employment First Policy on September 29, 2014, requiring all state agencies to integrate an employment vision, values, and guiding principles in their work. The policy guides state agencies in their planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation of services and support for Minnesotans with disabilities, to make employment the first and expected option considered.

Minnesota Association of People Supporting Employment First

The Employment First Policy envisions a future where all people with disabilities can achieve competitive, integrated employment. There are four guiding values of Employment First:

  1. Employment is the first and expected outcome for working-age people with disabilities, including those with complex and significant disabilities.
  2. People with disabilities are competitively employed or self-employed.
  3. Employees with disabilities earn at least the minimum wage and benefits.
  4. Employee with disabilities are fully integrated into the workplace and interact with coworkers, customers, and the public. 

This policy increases options and choices for people with disabilities by aligning policies, funding practices, and collaborative efforts among three state agencies: Minnesota Departments of Education, Employment and Economic Development and Human Services (MDE, DEED and DHS). This will help people who choose to work to enter an integrated, competitive workforce or become self-employed.

The three state agencies must align programs, funding, and policies, and develop uniform data collection and reporting procedures. The policy was the culmination of an Employment First coalition effort that began in 2007. documents/pub/dhs16_190416.pdf