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UK HDI administering Kentucky’s Employment First Council

By Meg Mills

Kentucky’s Employment First Council

LEXINGTON, Ky. — University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI) continues to create stepping stones for people with disabilities. In May, UKs HDI played a pivotal role in Gov. Matt Bevin signing Executive Order 2018-328 to add Kentucky to the growing list of states with Employment First policies for people with disabilities. In October, Kentucky’s Employment First Council assembled for its first meeting.

The Employment First Executive Order will ensure employment in the community will be considered the first and primary option for persons with disabilities who want to become employed. The Employment First Council will act as an advisory body of state government to pursue the purposes of the executive order.

The council is a 27 member group of people with disabilities, family members, employers, state agency representatives and provider agencies. Much of the work of the council will be accomplished through targeted subcommittees that include: employer education and engagement, the transition from school to work, providers, transportation and advocacy.

UK’s HDI is administering the council and will assist the group in fulfilling its purpose. Judith Bradley and HDI’s Katie Whaley will serve as co-chairs of the Employment First Council.

The council is charged with several directives, that include:

  • identifying state policies that create disincentives to employment for people with disabilities and developing recommendations that eliminate them
  • developing training and resources on meaningful and productive jobs within the general workforce for a variety of audiences, including people with disabilities, families, providers and employers
  • recommending the implementation of effective practices that increase employment opportunities
  • establishing measurable goals to assess the progress of these efforts

“The Employment First Council has a full plate of work to accomplish in order to increase meaningful employment opportunities in the Commonwealth,” said Kathy Sheppard-Jones, HDI’s executive director.

All of this focus is intended to increase the employment of workers with a disability in the general workforce, resulting in a workforce that will continue to grow the economy of the state. The Kentucky Employment First Council will provide an annual progress report to the governor.