What is WI Employment First?

Wisconsin Employment First is a cross-disability coalition of people with disabilities, family members, advocates, providers, community organizations and businesses working together to increase integrated employment options for people with disabilities.

Wisconsin Employment First is part of a national movement of over 45 states advocating for integrated employment to be the first option for people with disabilities. Our goal is to double the number of people with disabilities in integrated employment by 2016.

Read the WI Employment First Q&A

Right now, only about 20% of working-aged people with disabilities in our state enjoy the benefits of integrated employment.    Less than 10% of working-age individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Wisconsin’s long-term care system are in community employment, and only 4% of people with physical disabilities are in community employment.  Other states that are focused on Employment First are achieving integrated employment rates as high as 70%.  Wisconsin can do better!

WI Employment First believes…

  • Everyone can work and there is a job for everyone.
  • We all need to be creative and tenacious in our efforts to connect people to the right jobs.
  • Not working should be the exception.
  • All individuals, schools, families and businesses must raise their expectations about work.
  • True employment is not a social service.
  • Communities embrace people who contribute.
  • Everyone has something to contribute.
  • People are healthier, safer, and happier when they work.
  • People are hired because of their ability not because they have a disability.
  • Integrated employment benefits the economy, employers, and individuals.