Missouri News: Missouri on Track to Become a Model Employer

Governor Parson announces Missouri’s selection for a federal program aimed at expanding employment and training opportunities for individuals with disabilities

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced today that Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer state for individuals living with disabilities and has been selected for a mentorship program through the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to help achieve this goal.  The Governor made the announcement during his visit to Paraquad, the leading disability services provider in the St. Louis region.

Paraquad is a nonprofit organization who works to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity.  In 2017, Paraquad provided services to 2,323 individuals, including assisting over 500 individuals in obtaining a job or receiving the necessary support to succeed at a job.

“Paraquad has a long history of serving Missourians living with disabilities, and I’m thankful for their assistance in helping Missouri become a Model Employer,” said Governor Parson.

Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer later in 2019.  This classification is an emerging trend developed by the National Governors Association to help more people with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment.  State governments can commit to hiring more people with disabilities, and thereby become a “model employer” for private businesses and non-profits.

Missouri was recently selected as one of 11 states to participate in the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP).  EFSLMP will support the development and implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer.  This technical assistance program is run through the USDOL, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and is a cross-disability, cross-systems change initiative with a focus on developing a framework of aligning practices, policies, and structures, which promote increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“Becoming a Model Employer is crucial to ensuring Missouri is doing everything possible to fully integrate Missourians living with disabilities into the workforce,” said Governor Parson.  “I am pleased to hear that Missouri has been selected for this innovative program to make certain we are implementing all the best policies and practice to become a Model Employer.”

As part of the EFSLMP program, Missouri was chosen as a Vision Quest and Core state.  As a Vision Quest state, Missouri will engage in a series of small working groups, consisting of three to four states per team, to focus on analyzing, developing and implementing policy recommendations related to implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer for individuals with disabilities.  As a Core state, department representatives will work with national experts to build capacity to improve employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities.

Missouri’s teams consist of representatives from the Governor’s Office, Paraquad, Office of Administration, Department of Mental Health – Divisions of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Department of Social Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Economic Development – Workforce Development, Governor’s Council on Disability, Missouri DD Council, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

ODEP chose the following 11 states:

Vision Quest States: Missouri (State as a Model Employer). Additional states: Alabama (Mental Health and Employment); Colorado (Strategic Planning); District of Columbia (Mental Health and Employment); Kentucky (Strategic Planning); Louisiana (Mental Health and Employment); Michigan (Strategic Planning); Tennessee (Mental Health and Employment); and Utah (State as a Model Employer).

Core States: Missouri (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation). Additional states: Arkansas (Capacity Building); Iowa (Capacity Building); Louisiana (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Michigan (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Tennessee (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); and Utah (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation)