People with disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), want to work in their community. The purpose of this website is to provide information about what the state of Florida is doing to make it easier for people with disabilities to work. Explore the other pages on this website to learn more about how the state of Florida is helping people find good jobs in their communities!

This website can help you learn about:


Part 2 of the Employment Filorida Becoming an Employment First Provider is now available

Watch the recording of the Feburary 4 presentation with Ron Sharpe, executive director of The ARC of the Bay in Lynn Haven, Florida.  

Self-employment means that you work for yourself or own your own business. Sometimes you may hear people use the term “micro-enterprise” when they’re talking about selfemployment. Micro-enterprise means that a business employs between 1 and 5 people. Self-employment can lead you to a better life. It can mean loving the work that you do. Let’s take a closer look at how it works. Check out all our Fast Facts now!
October 29 presentation: What does it mean to become an Employment First provider?

Provider agencies across the country are transforming to support jobs in the community for people with disabilities. This process of organizational transformation can be both exciting and challenging for provider staff and the people they serve. Jaimie Timmons and Oliver Lyons helped participants gain insight into the benefits of provider transformation and the work done by members of the ARC network through their membership in the Provider Transformation Network, a project of the Institute for Community Inclusion. Watch the recording now. 

Peer Support Specialists at Meridian Behavioral Health Care Empower Treatment Teams and People in Recovery, August 2019

Meridian Behavioral Health Care, Inc., in Gainesville, Florida includes certified recovery peer specialist (CRPS) staff on almost all their treatment teams, including thepsychosocial treatment teams, the mobile response team, and the homeless outreach program. CRPSs work in either full or part-time paid positions within the department, with anywhere from 10 to 20 clients. Read more.

July 30: Developing a Vision of the Good Life

During the webinar, we heard from a self-advocate, Ashley Wolfe, about what she considers a good life and learn about Charting the LifeCourse from Crystal Bell, a certified trainer, and the roles everyone can play in supporting employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Watch the recoding now!

On February 20, 2019, the Florida House of Representatives Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee welcomed a representative from APD, David Darm, to talk about the importance of employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Mr. Darm is responsible for identifying policy and collaborating with stakeholders to support competitive employment and community inclusion for people with IDD. We encourage you to watch the recording at www.myfloridahouse.gov.

Finally, the interviews!

We are happy to report that we have captioned all of the self-advocate interviews and posted them to the video webpage. Check them out now!

Webinar Recording Availble: Recording: Employment First Florida videos

On April 30, the EFF presented video clips of self-advocates talking about job creation and negotiation, career advancement, and returning to work after illness or dismissal. John shared tips and suggestions on ways to use the videos to educate and communicate the message of Employment First with individuals, families, support staff, and others. Watch the recording at http://www.employmentfirstfl.org/presentations-2019.

Brick by Brick: Building Brevard County's talent pipeline through work-based learning experiences

The passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014 established a mandate for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to strengthen local partnerships with school districts. VR, which is within the Department of Education, has enhanced its collaboration with schools to allow access to services to students with disabilities who are still in high school to help them transition to employment and postsecondary education. Read more about Brick by Brick and other outstanding agencies. 

RESPECT of Florida: Supporting Self-Employment through Microenterprise Grants

The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) is a statewide professional association that serves as a voice for rehabilitation service providers. Florida ARF represents community rehabilitation providers (CRPs) throughout Florida with different levels of engagement with community employment. The association has been a consistent partner in efforts to change public policy and expand community employment. Read more.

Webinar Recording Available: Self-Advocate Interviews!

Employment First Florida went to the Florida SANDs conference in Orlando and asked 10 people with disabilities about their experiences, feelings, and ideas about work. They shared that finding a job can be hard work, but all agreed in the end it is worth it. A group jpined us us on March 28 to hear what else they had to say. Check out the webinar recording.

New Opportunity: Become a Local Interagency Collaborative Team!

Application deadline closed. Do you want to receive support to develop and implement Employment First in your community? This is your chance! We are providing select communities with technical assistance to develop and implement local-level Employment First projects. The local teams help raise awareness that Florida is an Employment First state, ensure that local organizations work together to support employment for all, and identify and help resolve barriers to employment. Learn more about the opportunity and the application process at www.employmentfirstfl.org/localteams.

Division of Blind Services: Employment Placement Specialists and Counselors Meeting Regularly to Improve Employment Services

Until a couple of years ago,Division of Blind Services counselors did not work closely with the employment placement specialists (EPS), also employed by DBS, to whom they would refer job seekers. EPS would then take on the responsibility of helping the job seekers find employment. In many instances, counselors would be brought into job situations to help people maintain employment by helping them become oriented to workplaces and obtain any needed accommodations and natural supports. DBS made changes to improve this process. Read more about DBS and other outstanding agencies.

Second annual conference sponsored by Florida APSE and SEDNET

The conference is about the transition of youth with mental health disabilities, specifically addressing employment, community engagement, and systems of care. There will be workshops about mental health and college, career and life ready skills. The conference is scheduled for May 1-3, 2019 at the Omni Resort in Championsgate, FL. Family, educators, agency professionals, advocates, community partners, and others are invited to attend. More information.  

New! Fast Facts #4: Working in the Community: Why it is Important

Our factsheets share information about employment for people with disabilities in Florida. Issue #4 explains what we mean when we say, “working in the community.”  Our project partner Arizona, from Tampa, shared his thoughts for this factsheet: “My disability at work sometimes has a negative effect on my self-esteem, but my job helps me keep my head on straight and helps me focus.” Want to read more? Visit the self-advocate resource library to view and download this and other factsheets. Share them with others and help educate our community! 

Employment First Florida: 2015-2016 Annual Report of Accomplishments

Read about the good work we are doing! The report reviews the present challenges people with disability face and the challenges we face a as a community to get laws passed and keep making progress. Read our report today!

July 2018 Grassroots Group meeting summary: Transitioning from school to work

In July, Dr. Danie Roberts-Dahm joined the Employment Florida Grassroots Group to share how Project 10 helps builds knowledge and transition service skills of educators, families, and youth. Dr. Robert-Dahm talked about Project 10’s in-person training, online education, and website resources. Through Project 10’s programs, educators can learn how to develop individual education plans that lead to employment, the discovery process, ways to work with students and future employers, how to increase graduation rates, and more. View full summary and meeting materials.

CareerSource Florida partners with organizations to address barriers that often coexist with disabilities

CareerSource Florida is the statewide agency responsible for compliance with workforce-related legislation. It creates policies that local workforce boards implement to increase community access to work opportunities. CareerSource Florida often collaborates with other agencies to organize job fairs, conferences, and other opportunities to connect the business community with job seekers, including those with disabilities. Read more about CareerSource and other profiles about agencies making a difference.

ICI Research Liaison Presents at Florida Conference

Ashley Wolfe, an ICI research liaison, presented at the Florida SAND Conference in Orlando on February 3. Wolfe, who has intellectual disabilities, spoke about a new curriculum the ICI developed to help people with disabilities find fulfilling jobs and advocate for what they need.

The Explore Work Curriculum provides a chance for people with all kinds of disabilities to think about what kind of work they might like to do and to explore employment options. The curriculum includes short videos focused on asking for accommodations and finding transportation to the workplace.

Wolfe explained that the curriculum is intended “to give a sense of confidence and independence...giving real hope that you can work, capable of working, can be given the right kind of employment services.”

Wolfe said that the most fun part of the conference for her was meeting other participants from Florida. They had the chance to “socialize, dance, go out to eat and have a nice Italian dinner.”

When asked why others should attend this conference, Wolfe said, “This can be a way of connecting and having social interaction with [a] new and diverse population...People of different backgrounds, cultures, interests.”

The Successful Futures program at Helping People Succeed (HPS): Expanding Options for Volunteering and Employment

Helping People Succeed (HPS) is a service provider headquartered in Jensen Beach, in Martin County. Since it was established over fifty years ago by parents wanting a better quality of life for their children with disabilities, HPS has evolved its programs and services to meet changing attitudes toward people with disabilities, and has grown to serve children and adults with disabilities and their families in four Florida counties. Read more about HPS. Read other profiles about agencies making a difference.

Nassau County School District becomes VR vendor to better serve transition-age students

In 2016, the Nassau County School District became an official Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) vendor. Administrators decided to have the school district become a vendor so it could better support its students with disabilities, ages 15 to 22, in paid and unpaid community-based work experiences before graduation and employment. Read more.

New Explore Work Curriculum Video: Lucy & Transportation

Transportation Video

Lesson 3: Getting Employment Help from State Agencies

All workers need to pay attention to transportation. Getting a job is great, but if you can’t get to the job, it’s a problem. Unless you have a driver’s license and a car, you need to do some planning. Watch our video about Lucy's transportation problem and possible solutions [link to video].

New Resources: Fast Facts about Employment for People with Disabilities in Florida

Visit the self-advocate resource library to view our Factsheets. Factsheet 1 looks at data from Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). APD supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their neighborhoods and communities. Factsheet 2 looks at data from the American Community Survey and the amount of people working. Factsheet 3 looks at data on the percentage of people who want to work from the National Core Indicators.

Florida Self-Advocacy Central: An Online Bridge Connecting Self-Advocates

Members of FL SAND (Florida Self-Advocates Network’D), a statewide network of local self-advocacy groups, wanted to develop a website for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), service professionals, and family members. They created FSACentral.org as a news hub. The site features information and resources to improve the quality of life of people with IDD, as well as policy development updates and advocacy talking points. Self-advocates can use FSACentral to become informed, educated, and motivated to make change, whether or not they are members of FL SAND. The site is useful for all Floridians with IDD and those who support them, whether or not they have a local support network. Read more.

New Explore Work Curriculum Video Lesson 4: Advocating for accommodations

Accommodations are changes made to the job so that a person with a disability can have access to everything he or she needs to do the job well. Once you have a job, you may have to ask your employer for the accommodations you would need so that you can do the job effectively. So it is up to you to advocate for yourself. Watch our video to learn how Jen asked for accomodations .


Human Resource Management (HRM) division of the Florida Department of Management Services

HRM provides human resource programs and services that attract, develop, retain, and reward a high-performance workforce. Among their activities, HRM offers training, roundtable discussions, and other resources that assist state agencies recruit and retain individuals with disabilities. Read about more about their programs.

Employment First Messaging Video

 As part of Florida's collaborative Employment First efforts, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council developed the Employment First Messaging Video. The video features leaders from each Employment First partner agency discussing the impact of Employment First.