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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New federal bill impacts employment

The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act has passed both the Senate and the House and is now on its way to President Obama for his signature.  It is expected that the President will sign the bill into law because of its overwhelming support in both Houses of Congress.
Some highlights of the bill include:
  • The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) stays in the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Both the independent living programs as well as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) will be moved to the Administration for Community Living at HHS.  NIDRR will be renamed The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
  • The bill defines "supported employment" as competitive integrated employment, including customized employment, or employment in an integrated work setting in which individuals are working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment, that is individualized and customized consistent with the strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice of the individuals involved, for individuals with the most significant disabilities-
    (A)(i) for whom competitive integrated employment has not historically occurred; or
    (ii) for whom competitive integrated employment has been interrupted or intermittent
    as a result of a significant disability; and
    (B) who, because of the nature and severity of their disability, need intensive supported
    employment services and extended services after the transition in order to perform the work involved.
  • The length of time for supported employment has also been expanded from 18 to 24 months.
  • Congress listened to parents and people with significant disabilities and strengthened the bill to include Section 511 which ensures that young people with disabilities try competitive integrated employment first before other employment options are on the table.  Congress was wise in not taking away any employment options available to people with disabilities and understood that people with disabilities, like any other individuals, are able to chose their own jobs in the settings they prefer.
  • The National Council on Disability will shrink from 15 to 9 members and changes to the process for appointment have been put into place.  Previously, the president appointed all 15 members of the Council.  Now, the Majority Leader of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives will each get one appointee of the 9.  A transition period for the reduction has been put into place through the bill.