Employment First Commission Announces Recommendations to Help People with Disabilities Find Competitive, Fulfilling Jobs

October 01, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – As part of his commitment to help people with disabilities find competitive jobs in the community, Governor Tom Wolf announced today the inaugural Employment First Oversight Commission annual report. The report outlines goals and recommendations for the commonwealth to continue prioritizing competitive integrated employment for Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

In 2016, the Governor signed an Executive Order adopting an Employment First policy, with the goal of making Pennsylvania a model state for employing people with disabilities. The policy was codified by Act 36 of 2018, which also created the commission.

“I thank the commissioners for their hard work and the recommendations provided in this first annual report,” said Governor Wolf. “We must ensure people with disabilities can achieve greater independence and inclusion in our communities, and this report will help me to move that process forward.”

The report proposes employment goals for people with disabilities, including continuing to transition from segregated employment with subminimum wages to competitive integrated jobs that pay at least the minimum wage. Other goals include increasing employment of people with disabilities to at least 7 percent of the state agency workforce and increasing the percentage of students leading planning meetings with school officials about their special education services to prepare them to request accommodations needed to be successful in future employment. The commission also outlined recommendations that would allow more people with disabilities to work a variety of jobs in the community by providing improved training.

The commission members are: Mary Hartley, Chair, Principal, 446 Bridges; Stephen Suroviec, Vice Chair, President and CEO, ACHIEVA; Josie Badger, Principal, J. Badger Consulting; Cindy Duch, Director of Parent Advising, PEAL Center; Amiris Dipuglia, Parent Consultant, PaTTAN; Richard S. Edley, PhD, President and CEO, RCPA; Zach Hicks, Arc of PA Board Member; Vincent Loose, President and CEO, Source America; Rob Oliver, Advocate, Speaker & Author; Donna Partin, Board Chair, D.R.E.A.M Partnership; Stephen S. Pennington, Esquire, Executive Director, PaCAP; Paul Stengle, CEO, The Arc Alliance and Heidi Tuszynski, Past Chair, PA Rehabilitation Council.

The commission will issue the report annually and work with state agencies to continue implementing the Employment First policy. The commission’s report is available.

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