Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has launched its Promoting and Expanding Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Strategic Plan.

The plan will advance efforts for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to gain access to Competitive Integrated Employment, which gives people with disabilities jobs in the community with a salary above minimum wage and with access to the same benefits as others in the workplace. This plan is being launched as part of a formal agreement with Disability Rights NC and the Center for Public Representation.

“Employment is a proven strategy for supporting overall health and wellness,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “The department is committed to building an inclusive workforce where individuals with and without disabilities work together, build community and thrive.”

The NCDHHS plan includes a commitment to working with individuals to identify their preferred choice in accessing employment. As part of this five-year plan, services in segregated employment facilities, which provide jobs only for those with disabilities, will be phased out. New admissions to programs at segregated employment facilities will end on July 1, 2022.

“These facilities have provided critical supports and services to individuals with disabilities and their families,” Kinsley said. “We are committed to continuously improving our system of care and supports and working with individuals and families to maximize employment success for all.”

Through its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, and Division Health Benefits, NCDHHS will collaborate with local partners and providers to implement informed choice, individual decision-making, career assessments, linkages to benefits counselors and ongoing training and technical assistance for individuals, families and communities.

Plan implementation is subject to availability of funds and NCDHHS will pursue a funding request to the N.C. General Assembly for CIE efforts.

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