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Employment Policy Imperatives for Georgians with Disabilities

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STEP 2

STEP 1

2024 Employment Policy Imperatives for Georgians with Disabilities

To realize the contributions of Georgia citizens with disabilities to the economic life of our state, a coordinated and focused approach to policymaking should be pursued and include the following steps:

Adopt an approach known as the State as Model Employer (SAME) that requires Georgia state agencies to set goals for the recruitment, and retention of people with disabilities. 

Steps to take: States that are committed to advancing their Employment First initiatives lead by example. State agencies represent millions of dollars in annual budgets. Leveraging the influence of taxpayer funding to illustrate how workplaces can be inclusive is a best-practice endeavor. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association have both highlighted the practice of State as a Model Employer (SAME) as a bipartisan issue that state legislatures should adopt for economic reasons. More information can be found here: Work Matters Policy Framework Outline Georgia should act quickly to adopt a SAME policy and set goals through 2030 linked to workforce development.

Phase out the use of subminimum wages in Georgia by 2024. 

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Steps to take: In 2018 alone, 48 pieces of legislation were introduced in states to limit or phase out subminimum wages for workers with disabilities, and since 2014, more than 200 bills have been considered regarding subminimum wages for workers with disabilities. Nearly a dozen states have banned or have eliminated subminimum wages. The practice is discriminatory, doesn’t lead to competitive integrated employment in the community, and has documented cases of abuse and exploitation that far outweigh any perceived benefits. It’s an 83-year-old USDOL provision whose time has come and gone. Georgia must phase out its use by 2023 and focus funding and transformation efforts on real jobs that pay minimum wage or above. Two recent Georgia abuses of sheltered work/subminimum wages can be found here: Lowndes Co. non-profit to pay more than $150k in back pay (walb.com)  and Good Shepherd Foundation director arrested on felony charges | The Daily Tribune News (daily-tribune.com)

STEP 3

Create a pilot project(s) to demonstrate the use of paid co-worker supports as an alternative to traditional job coaching. The focus should be on employer engagement, fidelity to evidence-based practices, technology supports, and gathering outcomes data.

Steps to take: Some states use systems of paid-coworker support as an alternative to traditional job coaching. That allows these states to encourage on-the-job training and assistance in a way that is more natural to the employee and workplace. This approach also allows for states and employers to compensate for the national shortage of direct-supports personnel while providing more inclusive services to the public. In Wisconsin, for instance, this takes the form of Wisconsin's Partners with Business Initiative (funded through WI Act 323), which supports agencies and employers to develop partnerships that lead to less job coaching support and more natural and paid-coworker support. Wisconsin's Partners with Business Initiative.pdf | GHA Job Development Fidelity Scale.pdf

STEP 4

Enact the self-employment policy recommendations provided to GVRA in 2018 so that microenterprise is an option for Georgians with disabilities. 

Steps to take: Progress on enacting the policy recommendations should be reported through the Georgia State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and be included in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified State Plan. The full PDF can be accessed here.

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