What is Employment First?

Florida is an Employment First state. The Employment First Act became law in January 2016. It defined employment as:

Integrated employment…where an individual is paid by an employer at minimum wage or greater or receives earnings through one’s self-employment business, fully integrated in the community workforce, with a goal of maximum self-sufficiency. 

Why is employment important for people with disabilities?

People with disabilities are LESS likely to work and MORE likely to live in poverty when compared to people without disabilities. Poverty is incredibly limiting. It limits where you live, how you get places, what you do in your free time, and the number of people you know.

Employment not only helps to reduce poverty, it also gives us independence and control over our own lives. It presents us with the opportunity to learn new things, gain skills, and make friends with people we meet through our job.

Interviews with Florida ARF & The Arc of Florida, May 18, 2020

On May 18, Employment First Florida interviewed Suzanne Sewell, presidents and CEO of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and Kirk Hall, executive director of The ARC of Florida

Suzanne and Kirk joined us for the first session of the Profiles of the Employment First Florida Interagency Collaborative Team online series. The series provides people with an update on the progress being made by the agencies who signed the Employment First Florida Interagency Collaborative Agreement. Watch the recording to learn about the projects, initiatives, and experiences both FL ARF and the Arc have had since the original signing.

Interview text coming soon!


Session 2: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 3-4pm ET
Session 3: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 3-4pm ET

Typewriter announcement

Announcement! Online Special Series: Profiles of the Employment First Florida Interagency Collaborative Team May, July, October 2020

In recognition of the renewal of the Employment First Florida Interagency Collaborative Agreement, Employment First Florida will be hosting 3 online presentations to profile the work being done by each of the signatory agencies of the agreement. Join us to learn about their efforts to improve employment services and outcomes for Floridians with disabilities.

Session 1: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 3-4pm ET
Register now for May 19

Session 2: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 3-4pm ET
Session 3: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 3-4pm ET
Registration information for these events is TBA

For more information, contact Jean at jean.winsor@umb.edu.

Woman with Mask

Check out the ICI’s self-advocate webinar on May 8

The Institute for Community Inclusion, in partnership with self-advocates in New York and Massachusetts, is hosting a webinar this Friday, May 8th at 3pm ET entitled Our Stories: Young Adults, Work, and Personal Experience During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Join them to hear self-advocates’ stories about the impact social distancing and technology has had on their work, and other parts of their lives, such as staying in touch with family, friends, and support staff. Each of the presenters work on a research project that focuses on transition practices.   Register online for this event!

For more information, please email: Allison.Hall@umb.edu 

Are you worried about losing benefit payments?

Two type of benefits that people with disabilities may receive are Supplemental Security Income (called SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (called SSDI). Both programs have rules that let you try working without worrying about losing your benefit payments. There are a lot of resources to help you figure out what benefits you may still need once you are working. It is important that you talk to someone that can get to know you and your individual situation. Below are important resources.

What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18 [PDF]
Work Incentives – General Information
Disability Benefits 101

Self-Advocates: Chris & Christina

Chris & Christina shared thoughts on employment, marriage, and self-advocacy at the 2019 Florida Self-Advocates Network’D conference in Orlando.

Chris, an employee at Home Depot, speaks about a recent recognition he received for providing excellent costumer service. Christina is a secretary at the Conklin Center for the Blind. She talks about the accommodations they provide to her to make her job easier. They are both part of a self-advocacy group from East Volusia.

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

Each person served by Florida’s Division of Blind Services (DBS) works with a counselor to determine how much assistance the individual needs, and which supports and services are best for their life. Counselors have helped many DBS clients adapt to living with blindness or visual impairment and regain confidence in their abilities.

Continue reading “Division of Blind Services: Employment Placement Specialists and Counselors Meeting Regularly to Improve Employment Services”