­ Commitment to people with disabilities and Employment First

This blog was originally posted on Employee News

By Richard Wilson
Developmental Disabilities and Early Childhood Supports Division

People with disabilities face long standing barriers obtaining competitive employment. Recent pre-COVID-19 data shows the overall jobless rate for people with disabilities at two times that of people without disabilities, and if you experience a developmental disability, the rate is triple that of your peers who do not have a disability. As we honor Disability Awareness Month this October, we recognize King County’s strong network of people with disabilities, their families, employment service providers, school partnerships, and business champions who are upholding Employment First to help people with developmental disabilities overcome barriers and gain employment in the community.

Employment First has a long history in Washington and King County. It calls out that people with disabilities are productive and highly valued members of a diverse workforce and holds that anyone who wants to work can, regardless of potential obstacles presented by their disability. To make employment a reality, it places the onus on all who ally with job seekers to develop the supports needed to help them reach their employment goals. These values, leading to results-based expectations and state policy, have fueled deep partnerships in King County that have significantly contributed to leading individual employment outcomes in Washington for working-age adults with developmental disabilities.

The King County Employment First Community continues to grow and meets every other month maintaining progress. The group has developed 8 goal areas and guidance for cross-community workgroups that are actively addressing specific challenges, including COVID-19, to make employment for all a reality for our fellow citizens.

If Employment First is of interest and importance to you, please consider joining the community and its work.  For more information and how to join, contact Richard.Wilson@kingcounty.gov.