Unfinished Business: Making Employment of People with Disabilities a National Priority

Excerpt from Open Letter by Senator Harkin – Published July 2012

US Senate LogoDocument:  http://harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/500469b49b364.pdf

As the country continues to struggle with persistently high unemployment rates and a shrinking middle class, there has been renewed attention in the last several months to the issue of economic growth and the need for job creation. Many have noted the widespread problem of long-term unemployment and a growing number of Americans who have given up looking for work. Against this backdrop, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP Committee) has held a series of bipartisan hearings in this Congress to explore an often-overlooked piece of the jobs crisis—the persistently low labor force participation of people with disabilities.

This report describes the dismal disability employment situation, points to some recent developments that create an historic opportunity to bring more workers with disabilities into the labor force, and calls on the leadership in Congress and the Administration, in the business community, and in society at large to elevate this issue to a national priority. Specifically, I call for public and private sector employers to set goals for boosting disability employment, greater opportunities for entrepreneurs with disabilities, improved services to young people with disabilities that can lead to better employment outcomes after graduation, and bipartisan reforms to the largest disability entitlement programs so that they consistently support the efforts of people with disabilities to achieve success in the labor market and become part of the middle class.

Document: http://harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/500469b49b364.pdf

Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Report – October 2009

Children and Adults With Developmental Disabilities: Services in Washington, Research Evidence

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy was directed by the 2008 Washington Legislature to estimate the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of programs for individuals with developmental disabilities (excluding special education).

We reviewed the research literature to find the best available evidence on the economic impacts of services for individuals with developmental disabilities and found that residential services in the community for similar groups of adults with developmental disabilities cost less on average than institutional care. In some research, supported employment increases clients’ wage earnings and taxes paid, with a reduction in public costs. Several programs have demonstrated positive impacts on various life outcomes.

Website: http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/pub.asp?docid=09-10-3901