People with developmental disabilities want to work, however 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed in the United States. Current practices often look at the individual’s deficits and label them as being unemployable. The GCDD builds on the work of the Jobs for All United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy grant. In addition, The Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act defines employment as: People get and keep employment consistent with their interest, abilities and needs. Click here to view a video.
The GCDD’s priority for Real Careers is that there needs to be a vision where people with significant developmental disabilities can work by replicating best practices such as “customized employment.” Click here to view a video. These employment opportunities will be enhanced by building relationships with business leaders and employers as well as through policies and practices that acknowledge the value of people with developmental disabilities in the work force. Click here to view a video.
GCDD Supported Efforts
Project SEARCH - Project Search is a high school transition program started in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is currently being replicated in 39 states and four countries. The GCDD has helped organize a statewide Project Search Initiative which arranges for technical assistance and training for teams that would like to have Project Search in their community. There are currently 13 Project Search sites in the state and five others in the planning stages. (www.projectsearch.us) Click here to view a video.
Employment First Georgia - Employment First Georgia is a network of people who can provide technical assistance to others who are interested in customized employment. It is housed at the Georgia Advocacy Office. There are 40 employment stewards in Georgia who have been trained and are skillful in assisting people with developing creative employment opportunities. Nancy Brooks-Lane is directing this effort. EFG is helping support the Pilot Project with VR and an employment network in South GA. Click here to view a video.
Employment First Policy Paper (www.employmentfirstgeorgia.org)
Discovery Day - Discovery Day is an annual event hosted by the GCDD and traditionally focuses on employment. It is an effort to bring together business leaders so that they can learn how hiring people with disabilities can strengthen their work force. The event often features national and state leaders speaking on issues relevant to the employment of those with developmental disabilities.
Pilot Project with Vocational Rehabilitation - This pilot project is a way to promote systems change by having Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors use a Discovery process to assess an individual with significant disabilities rather than using the traditional vocational evaluation.
GCDD Public Policy Initiatives
Employment First Policy - The GCDD and its partners would like to see the state of Georgia adopt an Employment First Policy. The different state agencies who work with people with developmental disabilities (Department of Labor, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Department of Education, and Department of Community Health) need to be directed to make employment a priority. This is a movement that is going on across the country.
Minimum Wage - The GCDD signed on with Atlanta 9 to 5 to support raising the state minimum wage.
Other Partners and Resources
Georgia Advocacy Office (thegao.org)
Briggs & Associates (www.briggsassociates.org)
Department of Labor – Vocational Rehabilitation (www.vocrehabga.org/vrfacts.html)
Department of Education – Special Education Services and Supports
Institute on Human Development and Disability (www.ihdd.uga.edu)
Atlanta 9 to 5 (www.9to5.org/local/atl)
"Segregated and Exploited: The Failure of the Disability Service System to Provide Quality Work