by Anya Weber
Jane Boone, an employment policy expert from the state of Washington, praised the ICI in her recent testimony for the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Boone was asked to testify about Washington’s success in increasing employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The state of Washington is one of the nation’s leaders in terms of integrated employment (that is, paid jobs in the community for people with disabilities). Boone has worked at the county, state, and federal level to improve work options and employment income for young adults and adults with intellectual disabilities. In her testimony, she explains:
“In Washington State, over 3,000 people with significant and sometimes very complex disabilities are now working in integrated, competitive jobs with employers large and small. These are people who were segregated and not working 30 years ago in our state…[The] integrated employment rate of adults relying on day and employment support from the Washington State Division of Developmental Disabilities has risen from just around 0% in 1980, to 53% in 2004 and, as last measured by ICI, to 89% in 2011. That may sound impressive, but we are the very first to admit that we have a long way to go until the day every person of working age is employed and earning decent wages.”
Boone cites ICI data several times in her testimony, and references the ICI’s annual publication, State Data, as a leader in the field:
“For the national picture, the best reference is the invaluable ‘State Data: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes.’ That gives an annualized state-by-state picture of federal, state, and local funding investment and employment outcomes for adults with disabilities…While states pay attention to, track, and report on data slightly differently, the national context is very helpful.”
Boone recently retired from her work with the state of Washington, and often consults with the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN). The SELN is a national network of state developmental disabilities agencies that collaborate to improve their employment outcomes. It is run by the ICI and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services.