Tennessee Recognized for Expanding Employment for People with Disabilities

Monday, December 21, 2015 | 08:56am

NASHVILLE—Tennessee’s leadership in creating new employment opportunities for people with disabilities earned the state continued supplemental resources and increased its standing among other states looking for guidance.

For the fourth year, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) named Tennessee an Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) Core State.  The funding associated with the recognition will help acquire training and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Enabling provider transformation as agencies move from facility-based day programs to competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities who want to work
  • Building capacity among front-line direct support professionals and management to implement and use best practices
  • Expanding Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) options through the proposed ECF CHOICES program

This knowledge is extremely valuable as all 50 states and their disability service providers move to come into compliance with the HCBS Settings Rule.  The finalized rule requires all service delivery settings, including places where people with disabilities work, to be integrated and to support full access to the greater community.

“The hard work of all of our stakeholders is paying off,” said DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne.  “More people who want to work have those opportunities today, and now, people in other states are looking to us to share what we have learned.”

In addition to the continued recognition as one of 19 Employment First Core States, Tennessee supplies two members to the Employment First State Ambassadors Network.  Amy Gonzalez from DIDD and Susie Bourque from the Department of Labor and Workforce development present at conferences, share best practices learned in the state, and provide technical assistance to increase integrated employment options for people with disabilities in other states.

You can learn more about Employment First in Tennessee and watch several success stories at: https://www.tn.gov/didd/for-consumers/employment--first.html