What is Employment First?

Employment First is a state-level approach to disability services. It means that employment is considered the option of choice for citizens with disabilities, rather than placement in a sheltered workshop, a day habilitation program, or another segregated or non-inclusive setting. 

Facts and Resources

Employment First State Resource List (Spring 2019)

APSE Factsheet on Employment First

States with an Employment First policy offer employment services to people with disabilities, and only look at other options in the event that the person or their guardian does not wish integrated employment to happen.

Who is Working

ICI StateData: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes

Success Stories

There are many people with disabilities working in the community. Through the use of innovative, front-line employment support practices, these individuals are earning money, forming networks, and contributing to their communities. Learn about individual success stories from the Real People, Real Jobs project managed by our partners at ThinkWork.

Selected Resource from Member States

This list is not exhaustive. Please download the resource list for details and additional links.

Alabama
AL Legislation (proposed): The Alabama Employment First Initiative Act 
 
Arizona 
Arizona Department of Economic Security Division of Developmental Disabilities: Summary of Arizona efforts on Employment First 
 
Colorado
CO legislation: Employment First Bill, SB 16-077 (June 2016)
CO legislation: Senate Bill 18-145, signed on May 18, 201
Employment First Advisory Partnership
Policy on Integrated Employment

Delaware
DE Employment First Legislation
Statement from Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services on Employment First
 
District of Columbia
DC Employment First Policy
DDS Employment First Summary
 
Georgia
Employment First Georgia Website 
GA Legislature Report
  
Maryland
MD Employment First Policy 
MD Development Disabilities Administration Employment First information
 
Massachusetts
MA Employment First Policy
MA Employment Blueprint
 
Michigan
MI Employment First Executive Order: November 2015 Governor’s Executive Order (2015-15) 
June 2011 Bureau of Community Mental Health Services Employment Works!
 
Minnesota
MN Employment First Policy
MN Employment Policy Initiative website
 
Missouri
MO DDD Employment First Policy
 
New Mexico
2010 “Making Employment First a Reality in NM” webinar and text
 
New York
October 2014 Governor’s Executive Order 
NY Employment First Commission Report
 
Ohio
OH Employment First Legislation
 
Oklahoma
Oklahoma Employment First Bill 
 
Oregon
OR Legislation: Senate Bill 22, Employment First legislation, effective April 2013 
Employment First Initiative Website 
 
Pennsylvania
PA Employment First Executive Order
 
Rhode Island
RI BHDDH Employment First Policy 
RI Employment First website
 
South Dakota
July 2013 statement from Governor of South Dakota, declaring goal of making South Dakota an Employment First state
January 2014 South Dakota Employment Works Taskforce Report 
 
Texas
TX Legislation
Website of Texas Employment First Taskforce 
 
Utah
2011 Legislation (passed): HB 240, enacted in March 2011
2012 Legislation (passed): HB 240, enacted in March 2012, as a companion to 2011
legislation 
Utah Employment First website

Virginia
December 2012 Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services policy on Employment First

Washington State
WA State Policy: Washington Division of Developmental Disabilities Working Age Adult Policy
Publication from the Institute for Community Inclusion providing an overview of the development of Washington’s Working-Age Adult Policy 

Wisconsin
WI Employment First website
WI Legislation (passed): Legislation (2017 Wisconsin Act 1978) enacted in March 2018
Sign-On Agreement for WI Employment First Coalition: Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations

(You may submit new policies and updates to selnhub@communityinclusion.org.)

Select Member State Resources

Download the resource list for details and additional links

Alabama
AL Legislation (proposed): The Alabama Employment First Initiative Act 
 
Arizona 
Arizona Department of Economic Security Division of Developmental Disabilities: Summary of Arizona efforts on Employment First 
 
Colorado
CO Legislation (proposed): Colorado Employment First bill, SB 16-077, proposed in 2016
Policy on Integrated Employment
Proposed Changes to Policy on Integrated Employment
 
Delaware
DE Employment First Legislation
Statement from Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services on Employment First
 
District of Columbia
DC Employment First Policy
DDS Employment First Summary
 
Georgia
Employment First Georgia Website 
GA Legislature Report
  
Maryland
MD Employment First Policy 
MD Development Disabilities Administration Employment First information
 
Massachusetts
MA Employment First Policy
MA Employment Blueprint
 
Michigan
MI Employment First Executive Order: November 2015 Governor’s Executive Order (2015-15) 
June 2011 Bureau of Community Mental Health Services Employment Works!
 
Minnesota
MN Employment First Policy
MN Employment Policy Initiative website
 
Missouri
MO DDD Employment First Policy
 
New Mexico
2010 “Making Employment First a Reality in NM” webinar and text
 
New York
October 2014 Governor’s Executive Order 
NY Employment First Commission Report
 
Ohio
OH Employment First Legislation
 
Oklahoma
Oklahoma Employment First Bill 
 
Oregon
OR Legislation: Senate Bill 22, Employment First legislation, effective April 2013 
Employment First Initiative Website 
 
Pennsylvania
PA Employment First Executive Order
 
Rhode Island
RI BHDDH Employment First Policy 
RI Employment First website
 
South Dakota
July 2013 statement from Governor of South Dakota, declaring goal of making South Dakota an Employment First state
January 2014 South Dakota Employment Works Taskforce Report 
 
Texas
TX Legislation
Website of Texas Employment First Taskforce 
 
Utah
2011 Legislation (passed): HB 240, enacted in March 2011
2012 Legislation (passed): HB 240, enacted in March 2012, as a companion to 2011
legislation 
Utah Employment First website

Virginia
December 2012 Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services policy on Employment First

Washington State
WA State Policy: Washington Division of Developmental Disabilities Working Age Adult Policy
Publication from the Institute for Community Inclusion providing an overview of the development of Washington’s Working-Age Adult Policy 

Wisconsin
WI Employment First website
WI Legislation (passed): Legislation (2017 Wisconsin Act 1978) enacted in March 2018
Sign-On Agreement for WI Employment First Coalition: Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations