Across Kansas, there are many people trapped by attitudes toward their physical and mental disabilities, attitudes that deem them unemployable.
This website shows how wrong those attitudes are. In a series of stories, you will find information of interest to employers, to families and supporters, and to people with disabilities about how employment success is achieved.
With community employment, people with disabilities do not need expensive day programs and 24-hour segregated services. Supported employment becomes their day service.
Competitive employment is a highly valued activity in our society. Not only does it provide meaningful activity and personal resources, it also opens the door to allow the development of real relationships with others. For many, it is fundamental to quality of life and key to self-worth.
Like all of us, people with disabilities want to live as full citizens. They want to be “in there with everyone else.“
Employment success needs to be duplicated, again and again.
- A restaurant manager provided a long list of reasons hiring people with disabilities has been advantageous to his business, to all the people he employs, and even to his customers.
- A job coach who works to find employment for people with developmental disabilities explained how important community jobs are for the people she works with, both financially and emotionally.
- A young man with cerebral palsy and other disabilities spoke of what could be called his life’s theme when talking about his job and college studies: “I’m right in there with everyone else,” he said.
AN ACT establishing the Kansas employment first initiative act and creating the Kansas employment first oversight commission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
Section 1. (a) This act shall be known as and cited as the Kansas employment first initiative act. As used in this act:
(1) ‘‘Competitive employment’’ means work in the competitive labor market that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis in an integrated setting; and for which an individual is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled.
(2) ‘‘Integrated setting’’ means with respect to an employment outcome, a setting typically found in the community in which applicants or eligible individuals interact with non-disabled individuals, other than non-disabled individuals who are providing services to those applicants or eligible individuals, to the same extent that non-disabled individuals in comparable positions interact with other persons.
(b) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state of Kansas that competitive and integrated employment shall be considered its first option when serving persons with disabilities who are of working age to obtain employment. This policy applies to programs and services that provide services and support to help obtain employment for persons with disabilities. All state agencies shall follow this policy and ensure that it is effectively implemented in their programs and services. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any employer to give preference to hiring people with a disability.
Sec. 2. (a) All state agencies shall coordinate efforts and shall collaborate within and among such agencies to ensure that state programs, policies, procedures and funding support competitive and integrated employment of individuals with disabilities. All state agencies shall, whenever feasible, share data and information across systems in order to track progress toward full implementation of the act.
(b) State agencies are authorized to adopt rules and regulations to implement this act.
Sec. 3. (a) There is hereby established a Kansas employment first oversight commission consisting of five members. The commission shall consist of the following members who shall serve for a three year term:
(1) Four members who are persons with a disability or who are knowledgeable of disability issues and who are not state employees, of whom:
(A) One shall be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives;
(B) one shall be appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives;
(C) one shall be appointed by the president of the senate; and
(D) one shall be appointed by the minority leader of the senate;
(2) one member who is experienced with employment service programs and who is not a state employee shall be appointed by the governor.
(b) The governor shall designate one member to convene and organize the first meeting of the commission at which the commission shall elect a chairperson and a vice-person from among its members. The commission shall meet at least four times a year and, additionally, whenever called by the chairperson. A quorum shall consist of three members. All actions of the commission shall be taken by a majority of the members of the commission.
(c) Each member of the commission shall be paid mileage and other expenses as provided by K.S.A. 75-3212, and amendments thereto.
(d) The commission shall establish measurable goals and objectives for the state of Kansas to ensure implementation of this act. The commission shall track the measurable progress of public agencies in implementing this act. All state agencies shall fully cooperate with and provide data and information to assist the commission in carrying out its duties.
(e) The commission shall issue an annual report on or before January 1 each year which shall be presented to the governor and members of the state legislature. The report shall detail progress toward the goals and objectives and full implementation of this act. All state agencies shall cooperate with the commission on the creation and dissemination of the annual report. The report also shall identify barriers to achieving the outcomes along with the effective strategies and policies that can help realize the employment first initiative.
(f) The governor shall select from the cabinet agencies the lead agency responsible for compiling data and coordinating the preparation of the annual report at the direction of the commission. The activities of the commission and lead agency pursuant to this section shall be done within existing grants and resources.
Sec. 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book.