The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living have announced a joint effort “to expand and promote competitive, integrated employment as the first employment option for individuals with significant disabilities,” according to a press release.
“This agreement solidifies our continued collaboration with the Administration for Community Living to align policy, practice and funding toward outcomes related to competitive, integrated employment, independent living and optimal socioeconomic advancement for individuals with disabilities,” Jennifer Sheehy, MBA, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policies (ODEP), said in the release.
“Integrated, competitive employment is central to community living and full participation in all aspects of our society. We are proud to work with ODEP to improve the opportunities for people with disabilities to contribute their talents and skills to the American workforce,” Sharon Lewis, principal deputy administrator for the Administration for Community Living, said.
The agreement expands on a partnership that began in 2012 and makes use of the agencies’ connections to advocates and service providers. The two departments will create a combined network to include area agencies on aging, centers for independent living, aging and disability resource centers, state developmental disability councils, protection and advocacy agencies and university centers of excellence in developmental disabilities, as well as a variety of community organizations. The partnership also will ensure the sharing of resources between the Administration for Community Living’s Centers for Independent Living and the Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment System.