Oregon is an Employment First state that prioritizes employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
People with disabilities experience lower rates of employment than individuals without disabilities and consequently experience higher rates of poverty. People with I/DD experience even higher rates of unemployment than other disability groups. About 35 percent of people with I/DD are employed nationally.
Many states are exploring initiatives to increase state government hiring of employees with disabilities to help combat this issue.
The Oregon Department of Human Services, in coordination with the Department of Administrative Services and the Oregon Department of Education and with the support of SEIU, started the State as Model Employer program to help remove some of the barriers that people with I/DD face to work in state jobs.
The benefits of hiring people with I/DD in state government include: an inclusive, diverse workforce that appeals to other potential employees, good talent matches for jobs; loyal, dependable employees who value their work; and an increased sense of comradery among workers.
The State as Model Employer program allows hiring managers in any state agency to direct-appoint a person with I/DD who is receiving services from the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS) into specific pre-approved positions. The hiring manager can work with their local Vocational Rehabilitation branch to identify potential job candidates who might meet the criteria for the position. View the list of pre-approved job classifications for direct placements.
“An inclusive workforce benefits everyone, and people with I/DD can be some of our most dedicated employees,” said Lilia Teninty, director of ODDS. “We encourage hiring managers to take advantage of this unique opportunity to direct-appoint talented people into state government.”
Several programs at DHS have already hired employees through this process. Kevin Rodli was hired as an office assistant in Human Resources’ Shared Services team. He works 40 hours per week filing personnel and medical files, as well as scanning and photocopying.
“Kevin is a joy to have in the office,” said Jennifer Walker, Kevin’s supervisor. “He is always connecting with people and helping everyone feel like they are part of the team.”
The DHS/OHA Imaging and Records Management Services (IRMS) unit hired eight employees through the State as Model Employer program. Jeff Akin, administrator of IRMS, said the unit processes between 5,000 and 8,000 pieces of mail each day. The work of all members of the team, which includes data entry and document preparation specialists, is essential to keeping data from Medicaid providers, Oregon Health Plan consumers, and other customers, flowing.
“As a manager at DHS, there is very little I find more rewarding than providing gainful and dignified employment to people,” he said.
More information on the State as Model Employer Program is available on this fact sheet. Hiring managers interested in using this direct-appointment process to hire employees with I/DD can find out more by contacting Acacia McGuire Anderson, Statewide Employment First Coordinator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org