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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ODEP News Release: [07/17/2012]
Contact Name: Bennett Gamble or Mary Brandenberger
Phone Number: (202) 693-4667 or x4651
Release Number: 12-1425-NAT

US Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities join forces

Partnership aims to increase employment of individuals with disabilities

WASHINGTON — Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, and Sharon Lewis, commissioner of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, have signed a memorandum of agreement. Together, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy and AIDD, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living, will work to expand and promote integrated employment as the first employment option for individuals with significant, including intellectual and other developmental, disabilities.

"This agreement is an opportunity for ODEP and AIDD to work together to further disability employment practices and support state efforts to transform public systems so that they reflect integrated employment as a priority outcome for citizens with significant disabilities," said Martinez.

The partnership between the two federal agencies will further their coordination of resources and efforts so that the concept of "Employment First" — described at http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/EmploymentFirst.htm — is more broadly embraced. Many states already have resolved to implement policies that promote integrated employment as the first option of service for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities through the establishment of Employment First initiatives. Both ODEP and AIDD support these initiatives and other efforts to change states' employment systems by providing technical assistance, training and capacity building support.

"We are very excited about working together with the Office of Disability Employment Policy to improve employment outcomes. We believe that access to competitive integrated employment is integral to our efforts at the Administration for Community Living. Without a meaningful career path, people with disabilities cannot achieve the goals of independent living, full participation in community or economic self-sufficiency," said Lewis.

AIDD ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to culturally competent needed community services, individualized supports and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life.

ODEP's mission is to provide national leadership by developing and influencing disability employment-related policies and practices to increase the employment of people with disabilities.