Employment First bill passes out of committee in Illinois

On March 20, HB Bill 2591, Employment First for Persons with Disabilities, passed out of the Illinois House Human Services Committee. The bill, sponsored by Representative Golar, declares Illinois an Employment First State and establishes competitive employment in integrated settings as the first option for persons with disabilities in Illinois of working age.

Adoption of Employment First in Illinois is one the main policy agenda items of Disabled Americans Want Work Now, Access Living’s Community Organizing Employment Group. DAWWN has three members who are a part of the Task Force on Employment and Economic Opportunities for People with Disabilities. Governor Quinn appointed the members to the Task Force, which has played a role in building support and addressing concerns around Employment First.

Nationwide, other disability groups, including the National Federal of the Blind, are using the Employment First Model as a resource to end sheltered workshops and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.

Below is an Employment First Fact Sheet put together by the Arc of Illinois.


Fact Sheet



HOUSE BILL 2591-
Employment First for Persons
with Disabilities in Illinois

SPONSORED BY: Rep. Esther Golar

WHAT THE BILL DOES: Declares Illinois an Employment First State consistent with Gov. Quinn's 2013 State of the State Address and aligns Illinois with over 30 other States that have embraced Employment First as statewide policy

Establishes competitive employment in integrated settings as the first option for persons with disabilities in Illinois of working age

Requires State agencies to coordinate their efforts and collaborate to ensure that employment first is fully implemented for persons with disabilities

Requires State agencies to share data and information across systems to track progress toward full implementation of employment first

Makes the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities (EEOPWD) Task Force responsible for establishing measurable goals and objectives for the State of Illinois and monitoring progress to ensure implementation of Employment First in Illinois (The EEOPWD Task Force was established under the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force Act, Public Act 96-368, effective 8-13-09, 20 ILCS 4095.)

Requires all State agencies to fully cooperate with the EEOPWD Task Force and to provide data and information to the EEOPWD Task Force; and requires the EEOPWD Task Force to include a progress report as part of its annual report. The EEOPWD Task Force includes advocates, persons with disabilities, business community members, disability services providers, representatives of State agencies and other stakeholders.


WHY THE BILL IS NEEDED: Times are Changing: Disability is no longer an insurmountable barrier to employment due to innovative practices and changes in technology Census data shows that the employment rate for persons with disabilities in Illinois is at least 50% lower than the rate of employment for all Illinois adults of working age and even lower than that for individuals with developmental disabilities. Competitive work in integrated settings for persons with disabilities fosters self-sufficiency, independent living, higher self-esteem and integration into the community at-large Illinois communities and businesses benefit from increased diversity in the workforce, ability to market to the disability community as a source of commerce, and the efficiencies of tasks adapted specifically for a person with disabilities Opportunities for competitive employment in integrated settings as the first choice for persons with disabilities will raise expectations for our residents with disabilities who are entering or have reached working age.

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