employment first - Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

A Call to Action to Ask for More

When Employment First becomes the culture in Georgia, will it provide enough help for people with disabilities to have the good life? The life that everyone strives for, regardless of disability, without want for basic necessities? Employment First Georgia advocates suggest a call to action for more. The joy of having a job or developing a career is diminished without financial stability. A successful Employment First culture in Georgia will embrace employment in an integrated setting, at a living wage as the expectation, not the exception. What does it mean to earn a living wage, not just minimum wage? It means that when you are working, you have enough money to live comfortably and to save some as well. It means that you can save for vacations, better technology or furniture. It means that you can use a credit card and have the satisfaction of paying the balance (or learn the lesson of what happens when you do not).

But, sometimes, we make assumptions that these things will not be part of the life of a person with a disability.

When people earn a living wage, they make enough to meet their expenses. In the disability service system, there is a belief that people should not be bothered with their living expenses or what their cost of daily living is. However, it is vital for everyone to know what it takes to shop, to cook, to obtain medical care and to enjoy entertainment to achieve financial stability. We must raise the expectation of what someone's monthly expenses are. Monthly expenses include utilities, room and board and the things that the majority of society chooses to have a good life within our means.

When we visit people with disabilities throughout Georgia who are not working, we are astounded by how few people are given access to their own savings accounts. According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, 69% of individuals with disabilities reported they have no checking account and 54% reported no savings account. People who receive public benefits have money left over monthly, even if it is a small amount. But, without the knowledge of how much is saved and what it can buy, people are in no better condition to increase their standard of living.

Compound the mystery of savings with the minimum or subminimum wage a person with a disability can expect to earn. People with disabilities earning a minimum wage for a few hours each week rarely enjoy the fruits of their labor. Seven dollars and 25 cents an hour for a few hours rarely gets a person beyond trips to the discount stores and meals at fast food restaurants. Moreover, the incentive for working harder, increasing job skills and achieving promotions is diminished when the financial incentive remains the same.

So, when Employment First is the culture in Georgia and people with disabilities are offered effective employment supports without the expectation that they should make a living wage, people with disabilities will not rise out of the poverty that they have been segregated into for generations. "Because tax dollars support the services of public rehabilitation [and other employment support services impacted by an Employment First policy], it is reasonable to demand that the employment secured lays the foundation for financial stability," as written in Why Financial Stability Matters in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling by Abby Lindman Cooper.

In an Employment First culture, a person with a disability is offered the opportunity to work before being offered other services. They are given the chance to work and earn money. However, there is an assumption that after the employment support provider helps someone
find a job, the goal has been reached. We tell ourselves that everyone starts out making minimum wage and that public benefits will pay for what minimum wage does not. There is a myth that people with disabilities do not have the same wants and needs as everyone else, such as owning nice material goods or experiencing a rich social life. We must break this assumption. Instead, we must model raised expectations so that a person with a disability who strives to earn a living wage can choose to buy concert tickets, go to a sporting event and frequent a nice restaurant.

In a successful Employment First culture, a person with a disability will be presented with employment in an integrated setting within the community as the first and priority service option. Equally important, they will be presented with what to expect in wages, hours, benefits, taxes and the impact on a credit score, the opportunity for saving, work incentives and plans to become more financially independent.

The most important thing is supporting individuals with disabilities to make the critical connection that financial resources are a means to an end, and to know that they can and should take ownership of their own financial lives. We have an obligation to support families and people with disabilities who expect financial stability. By the time a person is old enough to go to work, regardless of disability, the expectation will have been set from a young age that he or she will make a living wage, not just "get a job."

We will support families to seek and obtain support and information. For example, families can contact the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Projects to learn how any wage will affect public benefits. Each county in the State is served by the Shepherd Center or Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Families can go to www.benefitsnavigator.org/gpage2.html to learn which agency serves them, and call to talk about the special rules that help job seekers work and still receive monthly payments and Medicaid or Medicare.

An ideal Employment First culture can create incentives for providers of employment support services when they help a person work for a living wage instead of minimum wage. An ideal Employment First culture can also create incentives for providers of employment support services when people with disabilities earn promotions, raises and employment-related benefits. Employment supports do not end when someone earns his or her first paycheck. Employment supports continue to assist people with disabilities to earn a living wage and live the good life!

CRYSTAL RASA, JD, is the program accountability director and employment director at the Georgia Advocacy Office.

Employment First Begins a Worthwhile Path to Success

People work for many reasons. For some, it provides a sense of self or meaning in one's life; for others it is the social context of meeting and associating with others in a common effort or goal; and for still others, it is the means by which to gain status, either personal or economic, which allows for choice and discretion in determining one's "life quality." These are the words with which we open our website, www.employmentfirstgeorgia.org, and they are core beliefs behind the idea of Employment First.

Employment First is the idea that employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred outcome for working age citizens with disabilities. Under an Employment First policy, publicly funded services for citizens with disabilities emphasize integrated employment in the community at or above minimum wage as the primary option. The reality is that virtually everyone with a disability is able to work with support in the right situation. Employment First is not "Employment Only" – it doesn't take away choice or mandate that people must go to work. Rather, a true Employment First culture seeks to identify the gifts, talents and goals of all working age citizens with disabilities, and to support each individual in a career path that fits those gifts, talents and goals.

EFGAThat may not be an easy path, but it is a worthwhile one. Just ask Angelica Summey, who is proud to be an employee at Shaw Industries in Dalton, GA. Today, you can find Summey in her cubicle, speaking with customers about orders and shipping. But a few years ago, her career path was far from clear. As a high schooler, she learned valuable skills through GCDD's Project SEARCH internship program at Hamilton Medical Center, but none of the hospital rotations Summey experienced were the right fit for her. So, she tried a job in retail, but quickly discovered that wasn't her path either: "There were too many distractions," she said.

A second internship rotation connected Summey with Shaw Industries. And when Summey got the chance to work in the inventory department, she and her support team realized that the focused environment was a match for her goal-oriented style. Outside of work, Summey's employment at Shaw has helped her fulfill another type of goal – purchasing her own car – and she's planning to move into her own partment with a friend. When asked how her job makes her feel, Summey simply says, "I can stand on my own two feet."

Across town, Avery Koenemann takes a philosophical approach. As a full-time employee on the food services staff of Hamilton Medical Center, Koenemann appreciates that he is part of a team supporting patients and families during some of the most difficult times of their lives. He explains, "I know I'm helping someone to heal. It's those small things that make a big impact. One person going the extra mile shows that they care about that person. Patients really don't want to be here, so I try to go that extra mile."

Dollars and Sense

According to the well-respected survey of individuals with disabilities, the National Core Indicators, the majority of Georgians with developmental disabilities want to work in their communities like Summey and Koenemann, but only 14% of them do. One of the major
challenges lies in Georgia's current funding system. Under the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), providers can be reimbursed up to $10,500 for supporting a person at a job in the community, but they can get more – up to $17,500 annually – for supporting a person in a sheltered workshop. Sheltered workshops typically employ people with disabilities to do repetitive work at or below minimum wage.

Financially speaking, that incentive is perfectly backwards. In fact, Georgia taxpayers should get a positive return on dollars invested when individuals with disabilities work in the community, not sheltered workshops. Researcher Robert Cimera, PhD, conducts policy research in the hopes of increasing the number of people with disabilities working in the community while lowering the cost of their services to taxpayers. Cimera looked at the cost effectiveness of employment services provided by vocational rehabilitation agencies across all 50 states to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In Georgia, he found that taxpayers reaped $1.61 in benefits for every $1 put into supporting individuals with disabilities to work in their communities.

And not only is our funding incentive backwards. With the waiting list for the New Options Waiver and Comprehensive Supports Waiver programs hovering around 7,000 individuals, many Georgians who want to work aren't getting the support they need to do so. In
a recent Unlock the Waiting Lists! survey that reached hundreds of Georgians in the disability community, jobs, jobs and more jobs came up over and over again. Not surprisingly, the greatest identified needs for people with disabilities were more and better quality services and supports and more employment opportunities.

As one parent put it, "Once a student has graduated from high school there are no guarantees on what services will be available. They need services and support just as a student with no disabilities is given. Please unlock the waiting list. A parent like myself will be forced to quit my job in order to provide my child with support. I need my job."

This is a concern that we at GCDD hear time and time again as we connect with people across the State – people need supports, and they want jobs. This is an especially critical need for students who are finishing high school. They want to work, but with no employment supports readily available and transportation a major challenge, today's promising young students become tomorrow's couch kids.

So if people want real jobs and it makes good financial sense to support them in those jobs, what are we waiting for? The time is ripe to make Employment First the reality in Georgia.

Envisioning an Employment First Georgia

What will a Georgia in which employment is truly first look and feel like? It starts with two things – a presumption of competence and an agreement of principle. We know that all individuals with disabilities have valuable gifts to contribute.

Under Employment First, we presume both as a disability community and as a greater society that virtually everyone can work in the right situation with the right supports. For Employment First to truly work, we cannot start making exceptions and drawing lines. We can't say, "Janie can work, but Peter can't." If someone is marked "unemployable" and everyone around them starts treating them as such – and worse yet, if they start believing it themselves – there's no room for growth in an environment like that. But the reality is we don't know how to fully measure human potential. And if we prioritize Employment First and commit to its principles, potential has the nourishment to take root and bloom.

In an Employment First Georgia, all children, regardless of their level of disability, will be encouraged to dream, to explore and prepare for their careers. Parents and teachers will have quality tools with which to support their sons, daughters and students – tools like student-led Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and self-determination curriculum. Internships will happen early and often, and preparation for life after high school will be well underway by ninth grade. It's not enough to finish high school. High school is supposed to lead to something – a job, access to higher education and ultimately a career. The level of expectation will be raised and supported across the board.

The career and work options supported by our system will be readily available, varied and flexible. Most of the Georgians currently accessing employment supports receive supported employment because it is the service most widely available. But supported employment, which involves supporting an individual in an existing job, is only one path to integrated employment. There is customized employment, which is the creation of a job for a specific individual based on their talents and an unmet need in the business community.

Customized employment is generally preceded by job discovery taking a more holistic, in-depth look at a person than a traditional vocational evaluation. There is also self-employment, in which a person utilizes a talent or skill to support their own enterprise. Employment situations evolve and grow throughout a person's lifetime, and a good Employment First system recognizes this truth and is designed accordingly. There has to be room for creativity, flexibility and individuality.

For an adult receiving segregated employment or day services – or not receiving day services at all –Employment First is about education and choice. Adults in these situations will get the opportunity to learn about integrated employment, and those who are interested will get the support they need to explore employment.

For Employment First to thrive, we have to get smarter and more creative about transportation. Especially in areas without well-developed public transportation systems, people need a way to get to work. Going back to creativity and flexibility –we could build a transportation budget as needed into each individual's employment services. We could create employment by providing would-be drivers with accessible vehicles, and then giving them the freedom to design their own routes around the needs of the community with extra incentives for transporting others to and from work. There are worlds of advantage to be gained from shared transportation, and with some innovation surely we can harness that spirit to get Georgians with disabilities where they need to go.

For all of this to happen, we need to make a serious ongoing commitment to provider training and capacity building. Something we hear from folks in various regions across the State is that they would like to work but can't find a provider to support them. And something
we hear from many providers is that they're interested in offering employment services but aren't sure how. As we shift Georgia to a State in which employment is truly the first option, providers need quality, ongoing hands-on training.

From a policy standpoint, making this vision a reality entails several key changes. Employment policies and procedures need to work together across all the key agencies – the DBHDD, the Department of Education, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, and the state Medicaid agency, Department of Community Health. Funding needs to incentivize integrated employment and reward positive employment outcomes. Agencies need to engage in data sharing, braided funding, joint strategic planning and a shared commitment to Employment First.

Which brings us back where we started – the need to presume competence and agree on principle that Employment First is where we want to and must go.

Ultimately, Employment First is about the value of people and the value of work, the value of work in peoples' lives, and all the good things that can happen when a person is learning and growing in a career path that's right for them. Those of us who are blessed to have that kind of job know the unique feeling of satisfaction that comes from a hard day's work or the completion of a successful project – and the deep fulfillment that comes from the chance to serve and connect with others through our work.

Paula Clark, longtime employee at the Rehabilitation Center of South Georgia, sums it up: "It's about the people. I just love it."

D'ARCY ROBB is the former public policy director for Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Employment First: Focusing on Strengths

By D'Arcy Robb

159171378 2She needs to work on appropriate workplace social skills."
"He needs substantial training before paid employment
can be considered."
"It is highly unlikely that she will ever hold a job."
"He is unemployable."

All too often, individuals with disabilities find attention focused on their perceived deficits instead of their strengths. Particularly when it comes to the world of work, that approach is self-defeating and backwards. How many people do you know start their job search by making a list of tasks they struggle with and activities that they hate to do? Yet for many individuals with disabilities, a traditional job evaluation can feel like exactly that. In such an environment, it's no wonder that some employers, parents and people with disabilities struggle to envision each individual with a disability as a fulfilled, valuable member of the workforce.

Job discovery is a way out of that tired old loop of "can't, can't, can't" by providing a fresh and exciting way to see people build their careers. Job discovery starts with a relationship between a job developer and a job seeker. The team gets to know one another as the job developer spends time with the individual and the people who are most important in his or her life by having both casual conversations and targeted interviews. They both interact in a variety of environments, and participate in activities that are both familiar and unfamiliar to the job seeker. The last thing a job developer does is to review files or paperwork about the job seeker.

Why is that the last step? Because the job developer doesn't want to be influenced by the perceptions (and misperceptions and negative outlook) of others about the individual. If the job developer wants to check on any possible issues, he or she can call the job seeker's referral source and simply say, "Is there anything I should know?"

The idea behind job discovery is to get to know and appreciate a person – to see them in their most beautiful light. Once the job developer truly sees the job seeker, it's time to write the profile.

A profile accurately and positively describes the job seeker, and translates the essence of who that person is into the ways he or she could contribute to the world of employment. "Accurately and positively" means that everything in the profile is true, absent of judgment and written to focus on possibilities. A profile will not say, "He slowly made his way across the room, hugging every person he saw. He does not have workplace social skills and can't appropriately interact with co-workers." A profile will say, "He crossed the thirty-foot room in two minutes and twelve seconds, hugging ten people as he went. Adam hugs people the first time he sees them each day. He will benefit from an environment where he interacts with a limited number of co-workers."

A profile focuses on a job seeker's interests, contributions and conditions. Interests, of course, are the topics and pursuits that naturally attract a person, often indicated by the things they do with no prompting. Contributions are the ways in which a job seeker can contribute to a work environment, including tasks that the job developer reasonably expects the job seeker could be taught to do. And conditions are the circumstances that must be met in order for the job seeker to succeed. A condition could refer to a physical accommodation, the need for a particular type of schedule or just about anything a person needs in order to make a job work for them. And of course, we all have interests, contributions and conditions – these elements are not unique to the discovery process, although they provide an excellent way of fleshing them out.

The best way for a job developer to know if he or she "got it right" in the profile is to have the job seeker review it. Asking the job seeker to be the profile reviewer shows that the relationship between the job developer and the job seeker should not be hierarchical, or characterized by one person trying to "help" another. Discovery works best when it is done between equals – a job seeker and a job developer going on an exciting journey together.

Once the profile is ready, it's time to find and negotiate the job. That is the goal of discovery – to lead to employment after the writing of the profile. The job developer reviews a list of potential employers, asking to meet with them to discuss possibilities for this particular job seeker. When a job developer meets with employers, he or she is looking to build a relationship while identifying unmet needs.

Every business and every community has needs that are unmet. As a job developer, they identify those unmet needs, figure out a match between the need and a job seeker and negotiate a job based upon that. A customized job should be a win-win situation that benefits both the job seeker and the employer. The amount of job coaching and subsequent support will depend on the needs of each individual.

Not every discovery process leads to a traditional employer. Self-employment and resource ownership are two hugely promising avenues of employment for people with disabilities that I will be covering in future columns. Nor is discovery only for people with disabilities. Anyone who needs a non-traditional entrance to the workforce can benefit from discovery, including persons with mental illness or individuals transitioning off welfare benefits.
As a friend of mine who is struggling in her job recently said, "Anyone could benefit from this!"

D'Arcy Robb is the co-coordinator of Employment First Georgia.

I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Marc Gold & Associates Discovery retreat last fall in Ocean Springs, MS, and owe a tremendous thanks to Norciva Shumpert, Michael Callahan and my fellow participants for so generously sharing of their knowledge. I highly recommend the MG&A materials to anyone interested in learning more about Discovery: http://www.marcgold.com

For information on Employment First Georgia, visit www.employmentfirstgeorgia.org

On the job: Cummings man with Down syndrome takes legislator to work

ATLANTA (November 12, 2015) – When Jordan Huffman begins his 6:30 PM shift busting tables and making guests feel at home at Rosati’s Pizza in Cumming, next Tuesday, November 17, he may feel added pressure to let his skills really shine that evening, but, after all, he asked for it. At Jordan’s invitation, Representative Mike Dudgeon (R-District 25) will join him at the popular sports theme eatery to observe him in action as part of “Take Your Legislator to Work,” sponsored by Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) in collaboration with Employment First Georgia (EFG).

Jordan Huffman at RosatisJordan Huffman formalJordan Huffman with horseThe purpose of the “Take Your Legislator to Work” initiative is to educate policymakers and improve public perception about the capabilities of individuals with developmental disabilities and the skills and talents they bring to a job once given the opportunity. Rosati’s owner, Matt Smith and Jordan’s Mom, Kathryn Junod will also be on hand, to support Jordan and the idea that most people with developmental disabilities can and want to work.

Jordon, 20, has Down syndrome and, in addition to working at Rosati’s, is an usher at AMC theaters. He is very social, active in sports and volunteers in his community.   He competes in Special Olympics equestrian, basketball, and flag football. He is a senior at Lambert High School in Suwanee where his favorite class subject is “advanced sports marketing.” Jordan has managed Lambert’s varsity basketball team for the past four seasons.

Through the remaining weeks of this year, leading up to the start of the 2016 General Assembly, all across Georgia, dozens of employees with developmental disabilities, like Jordan Huffman, are answering the call to “Take Your Legislator to Work” (TYLTW) and they are getting good response from their employers and elected representatives. The goal of TYLTW job site visits is to raise awareness about the far reaching benefits of hiring people with disabilities. State legislators who participate receive a first-hand experience of constituent job success and satisfied employers in their own back yard.

GCDD and EFG are building the case for an Employment First policy in Georgia and will advocate for its adoption during the upcoming legislative session. Employment First is the idea that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their level of disability.

An Employment First policy benefits Georgians with disabilities, who get real jobs based on their abilities, talents and passions.

Jordan is currently in the process of applying for admission to Clemson University where he wants to study business. He is motivated to live independently and have his own apartment or home. “I want to own or co-own a business one day and get married,” he said.

Employment First benefits:

  • Georgia families, whose peace of mind and financial well-being are dramatically improved when their loved one with disabilities is employed.
  • Georgia employers, who get access to a talented, committed workforce.
  • Georgia taxpayers,who get a positive return on the dollars invested.

About GCDD: The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, a federally funded independent state agency, works to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. A developmental disability is a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and is expected to last a lifetime. Visit www.GCDD.org for more information.


Valerie Meadows Suber
Public Information Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
Office / 404.657.2122
Mobile / 404.801.7873

# # #

Support Employment First and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education

We are one step closer to an Employment First Georgia! On July 7th, Speaker of the House David Ralston appointed the following Georgia legislators to the Post Secondary Education and Employment Options for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Study Committee:

  • Chairwoman Katie Dempsey, R-Rome
  • Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta
  • Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch
  • Rep. Valencia Stovall, D-Lake City
  • Rep. Bill Werkheiser, R-Glennville

Please let these representatives know you support Employment First and Inclusive Post Secondary Education! For your convenience, we have included a link at the bottom of this message to send an email to these legislators.

Click Here to Email Legislators

For more information, please go to House Resolution 642.
If you want to be even more involved with this effort, contact Employment First Co-Coordinator D'Arcy Robb at .

Take Your Legislator to Work Day a Success!

GCDD HPBanner TYLTWGeorgia’s Take Your Legislator To Work Day (TYLTWD) kicked off in October 2015 to commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The efforts of TYLTWD started with the Employment First Georgia Coalition, a group of 300-strong advocates including people with disabilities, family members, service providers and advocates who believe that all people with disabilities have the ability to work and that Georgia needs an Employment First policy.

The goal of Take Your Legislator to Work Day is to ask employees with disabilities to invite their legislators to visit their workplace to demonstrate first-hand the power of community-integrated employment for people with disabilities by showcasing their skills and talents in a work environment.

And the legislative response has been overwhelmingly positive. Listed below are the scheduled or completed visits of legislators and their constituents with disabilities who have been visited at work. The list will be updated as we receive more information.

Take Your Legislator to Work Day Visits

  • Chad Roberts visited by Rep. Scot Turner at Sweetwater Growers in Canton.
  • Jordan Huffman visited by Rep. Mike Dudgeonand Senator Michael Williams at Roseati’s Pizza in Cumming.
  • Bob McGarry visited by Rep. Bill Werkheiser at Living Independence for Everyone, Inc. in Savannah.
  • Brian Mosley, Sarah Parker and Willie Jones visited by Senator Harold Jones and Rep. Wayne Howard at Walton Options in Augusta.
  • Jazzmine Smith visited by Rep. Mickey Stephens at Memorial Hospital in Savannah.
  • Lindsey Kussow visited by Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns at Edwards Interiors Aerospace in Springfield.
  • Billy Behrens visited by Rep. Bill Hitchens at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Savannah.
  • BJ Clark visited by Rep. Bob Bryant at Chatham County Courthouse in Savannah.
  • Myles Johnson visited by Senator Michael Williams at Chick-Fil-A in Suwanee.
  • Mia Nobbie visited by Senator Bill Cowsert at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens.
  • Project SEARCH Hall County interns visited by Senator Butch Miller, Senator John Wilkinson, Rep. Emory Dunahoo and Rep. Lee Hawkins at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.
  • David Stockstill visited by Rep. Darlene Taylor at Olson Architects in Thomasville.
  • Christie Entrekin visited by Senator Jeff Mullis at Christie’s Creations in Trion.
  • Quron Dixon visited by Senator Donzella James at Café Aquaria in Atlanta.
  • Janeanne Napoli visited by Senator Frank Ginn at University of Georgia Law Library in Athens.
  • David Gwynn visited by Rep. Joe Wilkinson at Atlanta Neurology in Atlanta.
  • Adrienne O’Prey visited by Rep. Michael Caldwell at Resurgens in Kennesaw.
  • Robbie Huff visited by Rep. Ronnie Mabra at disAbility Link in Tucker.
  • Brett Wable visited by Rep. Bruce Broadrick at Shaw Industries in Dalton.
  • James Jordan visited by Rep. Scott Holcomb at Krispy Kreme in Doraville.
  • Garrett Chason discussed his career with Rep. Amy Carter, Rep. Darlene Taylorand Senator Dean Burke in Thomasville.
  • Christopher Varnerin visited by Rep. Pedro Marin at TGI Friday's in Buford.
  • Corbett Dishman visited by Rep. John Yates at Partners II Pizza in Fayetteville.
  • Anthony Emerson visited by Rep. Christian Coomer at Euharlee Elementary in Kingston.
  • Mike Melton visited by Rep. Beth Beskin at disABILITY Link in Tucker.
  • Bobby Chapman  visited by Senator P. K. Martin at Kroger’s in Lawrenceville.

At press time, the following individuals are scheduling their visits to take their legislators to work

  • Liz Persaud of Georgia Tech in Atlanta
  • Xantha Burghardt of Tow ATL in Buckhead
  • Minna Hong of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta
  • Alicia Hardy of Hardee’s in Dalton
  • Chester Grantand Eric Foster of Thomaston-Upson County Board of Education
  • Christopher Bivins, self-employed, of Moultrie
  • Project SEARCH Bartow County interns at Cartersville Medical Center
  • Viola Wilson of Walton Options in Augusta
  • Jessica Luna of Mulberry Elementary in Auburn
  • Katrina Parsons and Carl Teemof disAbility Link in Tucker.


Take Your Legislator to Work Day is Back!

Take Your Legislator to Work Day is Back!Georgia’s Take Your Legislator To Work Day (TYLTWD) kicked off October 2016 to commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The efforts of TYLTWD started with the Employment First Georgia Coalition, a group of 300-strong advocates including people with disabilities, family members, service providers and advocates who believe that all people with disabilities have the ability to work and that Georgia needs an Employment First policy.

The goal of Take Your Legislator To Work Day is to show the far reaching benefits of hiring people with disabilities, support the idea that in an Employment First Georgia, employment should be the first and preferred option for all people – with and without disabilities and to call attention to the 2016 NDEAM theme, #InclusionWorks.

GCDD's Take Your Legislator to Work Day is an opportunity for employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) to visit them at work. All workers with disabilities working in competitive, integrated employment in their community are encouraged to apply. We believe that visiting an employee at work is the best way to show legislators that people with disabilities want to work and are as capable as anyone at working real, competitive jobs for real wages in integrated settings.
The visits are in progress and we will keep you updated as they happen:

Take Your Legislator to Work Day Visits

Chad Roberts was visited by Rep. Scot Turner at Sweetwater Growers in Canton for TYLTWD


Chad Roberts visited by Rep. Scot Turner at Sweetwater Growers in Canton.



Take Your Legislator to Work Day Returns

GCDD HPBanner TYLTW 2017gen

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is excited to announce the return of Take Your Legislator to Work Day! This month-long event coincides with NDEAM, the 2017 theme of which is Inclusion Drives Innovation.

The goal of Take Your Legislator To Work Day is to show the far reaching benefits to employers, employees and communities alike of hiring people with disabilities as well as to create opportunities for Georgians with disabilities to form and nurture relationships with their elected officials.

GCDD's Take Your Legislator to Work Day is an opportunity for employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) tovisit them at work. Any Georgian who is employed in an integrated setting and who identifies as having a disability is encouraged to apply. We believe that visiting an employee at work is the best way to show legislators that people with disabilities want to workand are as capable as anyone at working in real jobs for real wages. We also believe your elected officials will best undersand the positive impact of publically funded employment supports if they see those in action.

Registration is now open! The earlier you register, the easier scheduling will be with your legislators!

Participation is simple! Just click here to start the registration process and someone from GCDD will contact you within five business days to review your eligibility, process your application, and discuss next steps.

Deadline to register is September 25, 2017

IMPORTANT:Please be sure to wait to hear from GCDD first BEFOREyou contact your legislator so that we can help ensure you have a successful visit and provide you with the tools you will need.

Registration link: http://bit.ly/TakeYourLegislatorToWorkDay

Take Your Legislator to Work Day is open to any person with a disability that lives in Georgia and works in a community integrated setting earning at or above minimum wage.