Increasing Employment for People with Disabilities

Employment Outcome Vision

"Employment in the general workforce is the first priority and the expected and preferred outcome in the provision of publically funded services for all working age Iowan's with disabilities."

By employment we mean: regular or customized employment in the general workforce, where employees with disabilities are earning at least minimum or prevailing wages and benefits.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is involved with a number of initiatives intended to increase the number of people with disabilities competitively employed including:

  • State Employment Leadership Network (SELN): SELN's mission is to bring states together to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. SELN consultants help Iowa recognize the systemic barriers to employment for persons with disabilities and ways to overcome them.

  • Medicaid Infrastructure (MIG) Grant: This program ended in 2013. The purpose of MIG was to assist states with making improvements to their Medicaid programs that support the competitive employment of people with disabilities.

  • Employment First ("E1st"): Iowa is one of three states awarded an Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) grant to promote systems change around improving employment outcomes and one of 26 States with an APSE sponsored initiative emphasizing integrated employment. Iowa E1st includes individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, state human services and vocational staff, business leaders, and others. Iowa's Employment First Leadership State Mentor Program (EFLSMP) brings together Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) with DHS, IowaWORKS, the DD Council, the Iowa Association of Community Providers, and a family member, under the mentorship of the State of Washington. 

  • Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment: The Administration on Developmental Disabilities Grant awarded a $358,000 per year five year grant to the Developmental Disabilities Council. The grant will which brings together the DD Council, the Iowa Department of Education (DE), Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS), and DHS to improve systems so that Iowa youth with a developmental disability have fully integrated, and competitive work opportunities. The grant will contract for 6 demonstration projects in an education environment and at least 3 demonstration projects with community rehabilitation providers. This project is called the Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment (ICIE).

  • Iowa's Money follows the Person Grant (MFP): The Partnership for Community Integration Project is a federal Medicaid demonstration grant to assist with the transition of persons currently residing in ICFs/ID to communities of their choice. Employment plays an integral part in community inclusion and the goals of the project.

DHS' goal is to unify and coordinate these efforts in conjunction with the Olmstead plan, MHDS Redesign, Iowa Medicaid, stakeholders and state agency partners so demonstrable improvement can be made in the number of persons with disabilities competitively employed in the community. This effort will include the evaluation of any new or innovative approaches that can be adopted to better help achieve the goal.

Iowa's Empoyment-1st Guidebook

A resource for anyone working with people with disabilities, including service planning tips, myth-busting, FAQs and much much more

Success Clips and FYI

Read the stories of eighteen Iowa Self Employment STARS!

Actors with disabilities shine in Mason City Community Theatre play

Nine Iowa self-employment success stories

Zach Becker’s Success Story

Customized Employment

Handout About Webinars On Customized Employment

TTAP for Parents

Employment Reports & Community Forums

Workgroup Timeline 2013

Stakeholder Brief

Employment Forum Questions & Agenda

Building Provider Capacity

Report of the 2013 Forums


CMS Info Bulletin 9-16-2011 Employment Services Update

Key Assumptions for a High Quality Funding System

Notes from DHS Employment Workgroup 2013

PPT from July 31, 2013 Webinar

Q&A from July 31, 2013 Webinar 

Employment Services Redesign Webinar # 2 August 28 2013 PowerPoint 

SELN PowerPoint Presentation for September 10, 2013 Workgroup Meeting

September 25, 2013 Webinar #3 PowerPoint

December Update to IACP

January Update to IACP

Employment Workgroup Reference Material

R2-Bluebook 2012

R3-052012 Federal Register Proposed HCBS Rules

Employment Workgroup Optional Material

O5-MLTSS White Paper The Growth of Managed Long Term Services and Supports Programs

MEPD study on Effect of Employment on Health Care Costs

APHSA summary of, and Cimera article The Economics of Supported Employment

For more information, contact:

Lin Nibbelink
Iowa DHS, Mental Health and Disability Services Division
Hoover State Office Building, 5th Floor SE
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515-281-3023