Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is launching the Inclusion Works initiative to promote competitive integrated employment for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Inclusion Works offers resources for people with disabilities seeking employment, those who are currently employed and employers who hire and retain staff with an intellectual or developmental disability.

“People with disabilities bring skills, talents, and perspectives that are critical to our workforce. This initiative provides opportunity and access that will strengthen our state and local communities,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “North Carolina’s economy is stronger when everyone is included in the workforce.”

Competitive integrated employment is work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis where a person is compensated at or above minimum wage. People are paid comparable wages to employees without disabilities performing similar duties with similar training and experience and is at a location where employees with disabilities interact with people without disabilities.

Inclusion Works is available for anyone who has a developmental or intellectual disability who is interested in working in a competitive and integrated setting. There are more than 67,390 adults in North Carolina with I/DD, including many who are eager to work. The following services are offered to help people with I/DD find and maintain jobs in the community:

♦ Career Counseling
♦ Employment Assessments and Career Planning
♦ Pre-Employment Transition Services
♦ Job Training
♦ Internships

As part of Inclusion Works, new Supported Employment services recently launched for people who are eligible for Medicaid under 1915(i). People without Medicaid may be eligible for state-funded supported employment. People and employers using services do not pay anything out of pocket for these resources. Supported Employment services have three phases of support for people with I/DD: pre-employment, employment stabilization and long-term support. Additional 1915(i) services are available that support competitive integrated employment including community living supports.

“Communities in North Carolina benefit from having people employed in integrated settings,” said Kelly Crosbie, director of the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services. “It’s important employers have a workforce that represents the community and reflects its needs, increases satisfaction for all employees and uses diverse perspectives to improve problem solving.”

Inclusion Works supports providers who offer employment services to learn more about competitive integrated employment through training and technical assistance. NCDHHS offers webinars and technical assistance calls to share best practices and updates regarding services to support providers in expanding their practice. Click HERE for more information on how your business can benefit. In coordination with the launch of Inclusion Works, a monthly newsletter will go out highlighting new opportunities and developments in competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities and employers who are interested in community employment. To sign up for the newsletter click HERE.

NCDHHS is also beginning an Inclusion Works virtual lunch and learn the third Wednesday every month for people with I/DD interested in competitive integrated employment. Click HERE to join the invite list.

To access employment services, contact your local vocational rehabilitation office to apply for vocational rehabilitation or contact your LME/MCO or Tailored Care Manager to determine what Supported Employment and other 1915(i) services are right for you.

NCDHHS is committed to expanding supported employment services and improving and increasing competitive integrated employment for people with I/DD in North Carolina. The goal is to ensure people with I/DD have choices and more options because everyone has the right to work if they want to.