Departments of Human Services plus Labor & Workforce Development Collaborate to Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Developmental Disabilities Department of Human Services and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Collaborate to Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Developmental Disabilities
TRENTON New Jersey Department of Human Services' (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that DHS and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) have joined together to increase employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
“ New Jersey state agencies and disability organizations, advocates and family members, have been working together to develop ways to support people with developmental disabilities in gaining and maintaining employment,” said DHS Commissioner Velez. “This renewed employment partnership builds on the Department of Labor's state public employment program and the network of support services that DHS provides; together we can better connect people with employment opportunities, as well as increase longevity on the job.”
With the goal of expanding employment opportunities, DHS and LWD developed a renewed agreement regarding “supported employment” services. Supported employment provides participants with the required assistance to secure and maintain employment by focusing on an individual's abilities. Supported employment may include an on-site job coach; crew work, in which an individual works as part of a peer group; arrangements in which a participant can sample different jobs to find a good employment match; as well as follow-along services to help secure longevity on the job.
“Every New Jersey citizen benefits from employment and deserves equal access to employment opportunities,” said Labor Commissioner David J. Socolow. “Recognizing the abilities of each individual and building on each person's personal strengths in the workplace is the goal of this renewed partnership.”
To discuss employment and economic issues affecting New Jersey this year, LWD will host “A Competitive Economy for the 21 st Century: 2008 Governor's Conference on Workforce and Economic Development,” December 1 – 3, 2008 in Atlantic City . More information is available about this conference at: www.state.nj.us/labor.
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Employment for People with Developmental Disabilities
In October 2007, “DiscoverAbility, the first New Jersey Governor's Conference on Employment,” was hosted by the DHS' Division of Disability Services (DDS) and led to the development of “DiscoverAbility , New Jersey's Strategic Plan to Create a Comprehensive Employment System for People with Disabilities,” in February 2008, through a Medicaid grant. This plan guides the state in developing a comprehensive employment system and is available at: www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/publications/NJ%20CES%20Plan_Final.pdf.
Efforts to develop a comprehensive state employment system led to the renewed agreement between DHS and LWD, outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU was created by the DHS' Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) in consultation with LWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). The MOU was issued on October 1, 2008 and emphasizes that all individuals who are eligible for DDD services will be provided with the option to participate in employment programs. Each participant will be referred for a vocational assessment to DVRS, and individuals with vision loss will be referred to CBVI‘s vocational program. Participants will be able to access vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services through these agencies.