In February the Statewide Independent Living Council sent concerns regarding the Employment First Executive Order to Lt. Governor Brian Calley. This communication prompted the request for a meeting to further discuss the issues. On March 30th, Sara Grivetti, SILC Chair, Rodney Craig, SILC Executive Director and Chris Simmons, Director of Systems Advocacy, met with Lt. Governor Calley for a productive discussion on Employment First, along with other disability policy issues.
We feel confident that Lt. Governor Calley is aligned with our thinking about the importance of inclusion, including in the employment setting. We also feel confident that he has a strong grasp on the issues and challenges that impact the achievement of full community inclusion. While our concerns were centered on the use of the term ‘intermediate facilities’ and the possibility of perpetuating the status quo, it was evident that was not his intention.
We also recommended that a revised Executive Order include the definition of employment to one that is more consistent with other Employment First directives from across the country. He indicated he will take our recommendation under advisement.
While we feel the discussion about Employment First was successful, our bigger success was obtaining his support on CareerACCESS. CareerACCESS is a national initiative that Michigan’ s SILC and Disability Network/Michigan, in coordination with the National Council on Independent Living and World Institute on Disability, is working on to seek authorization for a pilot project through the Social Security Administration. If Federal authorization and appropriation occurs, Michigan could be one of five states to pilot a program for individuals with disabilities ages 18-30. The program consists of intensive wrap-around supports to promote acquisition of a career, and eventual discontinuation of benefits. In the end the individual would achieve financial self-sufficiency due to earning higher wages.
CareerACCESS combined with Employment First are two significant policy initiatives that will lead to increased employment opportunities and wages for people with disabilities. “We are grateful for the Lt. Governor’s support as we move this effort closer to the finish line. It is exciting to have an individual in the Governor’s Administration so closely aligned and knowledgeable about inclusion and self-determination, “ states Sara Grivetti.