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Work Toolkit:


The basics


In Minnesota, we're committed to ensuring that all people with disabilities have the opportunity to work in competitive integrated employment.

The opportunities for people with disabilities to earn a competitive wage and work alongside colleagues without disabilities have changed over the past decade. In the past, people with disabilities were expected to stay home or to work in places separated from community businesses. That expectation is changing. Below are some of the most important policies that have helped bring about this change.

Employment First is a movement and framework for change that is focused on a singular premise: All people, including people with complex support needs, are presumed capable of competitive integrated employment. Employment First calls on public entities to work together to make meaningful employment, fair wages and career advancement a priority outcome for people with disabilities — rather than placement in a sheltered workshop or other segregated or noninclusive setting. 

For a quick overview, see the What is Employment First? (2:49) video published by RTC Media. This video was designed to help introduce Employment First to the people you support. 

In addition, Minnesota has an Employment First Policy (PDF) that guides state agencies to offer people the opportunity to work and earn a competitive wage before offering other supports and services. For more information, visit Minnesota's Employment First website.

Minnesota APSE is the state chapter of the national Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE).

Informed choice is decision making based on accurate and complete information. Informed choice happens through ongoing person-centered conversations and activities. A person making an informed choice understands the options as well as the risks and benefits of any given decision. With informed choice, community resources and supports are valued and explored.

Informed choice is especially important when people are choosing less integrated options or segregated settings. Because people with disabilities have historically been institutionalized and told that they aren't capable of successful community living, they may be reluctant to choose integrated options.

As part of enforcing the integration mandate of the ADA and the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, the U.S. Department of Justice requires that public entities take affirmative steps to ensure that people have an opportunity to make informed choices. As support professionals, we must provide information about the benefits of integrated settings, support experiences in integrated settings, and work to identify and address any concerns people have about integrated settings.

“” Key resource

To learn more about the Informed Choice Standard and access additional resources, check out the
Hub's Informed Choice Toolkit »

Person-centered practices are based on the fundamental principle that government and service providers must listen to people about what is important to them to create or maintain a life they enjoy in the community.

When a person-centered approach is used, support and service planning isn't driven by professional opinion or limited service options. Instead, planning looks at services and supports in the context of what it takes for a person to have the life they want. The person and their support team identify effective support and services that will help the person live, learn, work and participate in the community.

In the context of employment, person-centered practices call on support professionals to not simply help someone get a job, but to help them find employment that is personally meaningful and incorporates the conditions they need to be successful at work.

You can use a variety of person-centered tools when helping someone with employment.

Find out what Minnesota is doing to support person-centered practices, and get details on person-centered career planning.

For online training on person-centered counseling, consider courses through DirectCourse.

In January 2014, CMS released the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Final Rule to ensure that people receiving long-term services and supports through HCBS programs under the 1915(c), 1915(i), and 1915(k) Medicaid authorities have full access to benefits of community living and the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting.

The HCBS Final Rule makes sure people with disabilities:

  • Know their rights and options, and have enough information to make informed choices
  • Control how, when and where they get services
  • Participate in the community in ways that are personally meaningful
  • Choose where they live and who they live with
  • Decide if they work and what type of work they do
  • Choose how to spend their time and money

Minnesota submitted a statewide transition plan for federal approval in February 2019. This plan adds new services, simplifies existing services, revises licensing standards, provides support for service providers to transition to new requirements, and more. All states have until March 2022 to come into compliance with the rule and fulfill their transition plans. Check out the HCBS settings transition plan to see what Minnesota is doing to meet Final Rule requirements.

To learn more about the HCBS settings rule, watch this HCBS video (04:49) from the Council on Quality and Leadership, which features people who receive HCBS waivers explaining the benefits of the HCBS settings rule.

WIOA is the law governing numerous federal workforce development programs available to Minnesotans with disabilities, including Vocational Rehabilitation Services, State Services for the Blind and the WIOA Young Adult Program.

WIOA was signed into law in July 2014, replacing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Under WIOA:

  • American Job Centers and their services will be accessible to people with disabilities
  • Youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain competitive integrated employment
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies will set aside at least 15% of funding to provide transition services to youth with disabilities
  • A committee will be formed to advise the Secretary of Labor on strategies to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation programs will engage employers to improve participant employment outcomes
  • Once a year, employers will ask anyone who is being paid less than minimum wage about interest in competitive integrated employment (and offer connections to appropriate job search resources)

Read more about WIOA at the federal level and the state level.

IDEA is a federal law that supports special education and related programming for youth with disabilities. The law ensures that youth with disabilities are granted a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.


  • Ensures that all youth with disabilities receive special education and related services to address their individual needs
  • Prepares youth with disabilities for employment and independent living
  • Protects the rights of children with disabilities and their families
  • Assesses the efforts of institutions providing services to children with disabilities
  • Helps states, localities and agencies provide for the education of children with disabilities

Learn more at the U.S. Department of Education's IDEA webpage and the Center for Parent Information and Resources website.

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