Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Florida’s Employment First Initiative

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On October 8, 2013, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 13-284, where he reaffirmed his commitment to employment as “the most direct and cost-effective means in helping an individual achieve independence and self-fulfillment, which should be the primary objective of public assistance programs wherever possible.” The Executive Order defines employment as follows:

“…integrated employment, including supported employment, customized employment, and self-employment, where an individual is paid by an employer at minimum wage or greater or receives earnings through one’s self-employment business, fully integrated in the community workforce, with a goal of maximum self-sufficiency.”

On May 7, 2014, the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities; the Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, Division of Blind Services, and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Florida Department of Economic Opportunity; CareerSource Florida; Florida Department of Children and Families, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Office; Florida Developmental Disabilities Council; and Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (hereafter referred to as the partners) signed the Employment First Initiative Interagency Cooperative Agreement, committing to improve competitive employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. This five-year agreement took effect July 1, 2014, and it represents unprecedented interagency collaboration to ensure this commitment is instituted in the state’s programs that serve individuals with disabilities to help them achieve successful employment and independence in their communities.

As the state partners work toward the objectives outlined in the Interagency Cooperative Agreement, our desire is to make you aware of these efforts and how you can support this collaboration within your community.

The Florida Employment First Grassroots Group, which consists of quarterly webinar sessions for local stakeholders to discuss important issues related to employment, is one tool that was created to help facilitate local collaboration. In January, the Grassroots Group will host a discussion on ways to build and expand collaborative teams. We strongly encourage you to participate.

Finally, we want to inform you of our interagency communication efforts to promote more employment opportunities within the business community. The partners recently launched the “Abilities Work” Communications Plan, a statewide effort to promote a consistent message of awareness to employers and assist with the recruitment of qualified applicants. In the upcoming year, we will coordinate these efforts with our state and local partners to inform more employers of the opportunities individuals with disabilities offer their workforce and community.

Recently, the Employment First workgroup launched the Abilities Work job portal at abilitieswork.employflorida.com and Help Desk at 844-245-3405.  More information about these two initiatives will be forthcoming.

In the coming months, the partners will provide more specific information on these collaborative initiatives and offer ways for you to get involved.

We hope this information is helpful, and look forward to working with you in carrying out this long-term, collaborative commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities to compete in Florida’s economy!

For further information, please contact APD State Office Employment Coordinator LeeAnn Herman at leeann.herman@apdcares.org.

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