Increasing Employment for People with Disabilities

Employment Outcome Vision

"Employment in the general workforce is the first priority and the expected and preferred outcome in the provision of publicly funded services for all working age Iowans with disabilities."

By employment we mean: regular or customized employment in the general workforce, where employees with disabilities are earning at least minimum or prevailing wages and benefits. Iowa HHS  is involved with a number of initiatives intended to increase the number of people with disabilities competitively employed including:

  • Employment First ("E1st"): Iowa has consistently been awarded technical assistance and training from the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), to promote systems change around improving employment outcomes. Iowa E1st includes individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, state human services and vocational staff, state workforce staff and those who serve the blind and aging populations, business leaders, and others. Iowa's Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program (EFSLMP) brings together Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) with DHS, IowaWORKS, the DD Council, the Department of Education, the Iowa Association of Community Providers, and family members, to coordinate Iowa’s efforts in E1st. In past years, Iowa providers and Regions have been trained in Customized Employment strategies. In 2019 EFSLMP brings to Iowa a trainer from the IPS Employment Center at The Rockville Institute.  “IPS” is the Individual Placement and Support model of supported employment which is sanctioned by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  • Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment (ICIE): ICIE brings together the DD Council, the University of Iowa Center on Disabilities and Development, the Iowa Department of Education (DE), IVRS, IowaWORKS, DHS, and the Department on Aging to improve systems so that Iowans with a developmental disability have fully integrated, competitive work opportunities, and fully integrated community living options. ICIE has built a large coalition of concerned persons in every realm of this work, has developed and conducts a monthly Community of Practice webinar series, and has brought technical assistance and training to various aspects of this work.
  • Iowa's Money follows the Person Grant (MFP): The Partnership for Community Integration Project is a federal Medicaid demonstration grant to assist with the transition of persons currently residing in ICFs/ID to communities of their choice. Employment plays an integral part in community inclusion and the goals of the project. MFP sunsets June 30, 2019. 

Iowa HHS' goal is to unify and coordinate these efforts in conjunction with the Olmstead plan, MHDS Regions, Iowa Medicaid, stakeholders and state agency partners so demonstrable improvement can be made in the number of persons with disabilities competitively employed in the community. This effort will include the evaluation of any new or innovative approaches that can be adopted to better help achieve the goal.

For more information, contact:

Lin Nibbelink
Iowa HHS, Mental Health and Disability Services Division
Hoover State Office Building, 5th Floor SE
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515-281-3023