In 2011, the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities was created by Executive Order 11-161. The goal of the Commission was to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Its mission was to provide public policy solutions and strategies to the governor and state policymakers to fulfill this goal.

Simultaneously, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. entered into a partnership with the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services to develop an Employment First Initiative in Florida. The overarching goal was to ensure broad participation from Florida stakeholders to develop and support a framework that would contribute to greater employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities.

In 2012, these two efforts began working together to seek support from Florida’s executive and legislative branches, various state agencies, and stakeholder groups for Florida to become an Employment First state. In 2013, the Employment First Executive Order 13-284 was created. The Executive Order defines employment as “a job working in the community, earning minimum wage or more, and with the goal of earning enough money to support oneself.” It calls for state agencies to work together to make it easier for people with disabilities to find and keep a job in the community.

As a result of the Executive Order, the Employment First Interagency Collaborative Agreement was drafted and signed by 9 state agencies and organizations. The agreement developed a framework for formally implementing Employment First efforts through system change activities and innovative projects. This agreement drives Florida’s Employment First activities today.

On January 21, 2016, Governor Scott codified his Executive Order when he signed the Individuals with Disabilities Act. In the fall of 2019, a new 5-year Employment First Interagency Collaborative Agreement was signed by 11 state agencies and organizations.

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