Employment First, means that employment in the general workforce

should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities

receiving assistance from publicly funded systems.

Simply put, Employment First means real jobs, real wages.

Washington State is a National Leader in Disability Employment

Washington's Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) issued the

“Working Age Adult Policy” on July 1, 2006. This policy "designates

employment supports as the primary method of furnishing state-financed day services

to adult participants. "Emphasizing community employment as the primary service option”.

In the 2012 Legislative Session, the WA State Legislature voted unanimously to put

Employment First legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Evens Parlette in statute.

The US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy selected Washington State

as the mentor state for their Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program:


There are now 46 states with some type of effort focused on Employment First!

At least 19 of these states have an official state policy, stating that employment in the community

is the first and preferred service option for people with disabilities.

Washington State ranks 1st in the National Survey of State IDD Agency Day and

Employment Services for Percent Participating in Integrated Employment Services by State.


Under Employment First, assistance to find a job in the community, and become a tax-paying citizen, is the preferred choice.

Studies have shown that the vast majority of individuals with disabilities prefer to work in the community, regardless of the level of their disability.

It has been continuously shown that with assistance, accommodations, and encouragement, many more people with disabilities can work successfully in the community.

Advocating, Educating & Partnering for Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities