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Contact: Kathy Spears, spearka@dshs.wa.gov
Contact: Mark Eliason, eliasmr@dshs.wa.gov
August 04, 2014
Washington ranks as national leader in helping people with developmental disabilities become employed

OLYMPIA -- Washington state has ranked first in efforts to prepare Medicaid clients, who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, for competitive employment, according to a 2014 report from United Cerebral Palsy, an international advocate that provides support services for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities. UCP composes the report yearly.


According to the UCP's The Case for Inclusion, Washington is number one in the “Promoting Productivity” section of the report and is one of 10 states to have at least a third of its Medicaid clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities competitively employed.


Washington was the first state to adopt what became the Employment First Policy. The policy speaks to the state's Department of Social and Health Services mission for its Developmental Disabilities Administration.  DDA strives to transform lives by providing support and fostering partnerships that empower people to live the lives they want.


According to the UCP report, it took the vast majority of individuals without disabilities, nine months or less in 2005 to find a job after schooling.  DSHS believes that people with ID/DD should share the same employment goal and understands that employment is a typical building block for a full, productive life. So DSHS focuses on employment first when people with disabilities enter its system.


The number of people with disabilities who are competitively employed rose from 4,440 in 2004 to 5,562 in 2011, an impressive feat considering the Great Recession from 2008 to 2011. The jobs held by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities brought another  $40 million in wages into Washington's economy in 2011.


More working hours also reduced paid service hours. On average, almost 419 annual hours of paid service isn't needed because the person is working.


The key to Employment First's success in Washington is state and county leadership, training, quality employment agencies, organized and informed families and clearly defined goals.


Washington also met the 80/80 data ranking in the report's Community Standards category. This means that at least 80 percent of all people with disabilities are served in the community, not in institutions and 80 percent of all resources spent on them are for community support services.


The full report can be found at http://cfi2014.ucp.org/



DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.