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Employment First

A collage consist of eight pictures of people with a disability smiling. The picture were captured by Lawrence Roffee

What is Employment First?

Employment First is a national movement that promotes the belief that competitive integrated employment (CIE) in the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. Mayor Vincent Gray issued a Proclamation declaring DC an Employment First State in 2012, and Mayor Muriel Bowser reaffirmed DC's commitment to being an Employment First State in 2022. These proclamations can be accessed as PDFs at the bottom of this page.
A Proclamation that Mayor Vincent Gray signed on October 12, 2012
A Proclamation that Mayor Muriel Bowser signed on October 21, 2022

DC's Employment First Summit


What is the Employment First Planning Committee? 
The DC Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council) convenes the Employment First Planning Committee (EFPC), which works locally to develop and implement strategies to increase access to employment opportunities and to support people with disabilities in achieving their career goals. The EFPC comprises representatives from various agencies, advocacy organizations, and individuals with disabilities and their families. Committee members plan events and activities, such as the Employment First Summit, a community event that highlights resources, provides networking opportunities, and shares innovative practices to support employment. The EFPC meets biweekly, or more if necessary, between January and October each year. By working together, the EFPC aims to create a more inclusive and supportive workforce for people with disabilities in DC.
EFPC Collaborators:
DC community members

What other Employment First initiatives in DC does the DD Council support?

  • Department on Disability Services’ (DDS) Person-Centered Organization (PCO) Employment Innovations Group (EIW) - This group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 1 pm. The PCO EIW’s purpose is to promote strategies and best practices resulting in improved person-centered employment outcomes and financial well-being for persons with disabilities in the District of Columbia through programs, policies, and capacity building within DDS and its partners. Contact: Angela Spinella, [email protected], 202-527-4968
  • Employment First Leadership Workgroup (EFLW) - This group meets quarterly. It is comprised of 19 DC government agencies (listed below) that have been working together since 2012 to collaborate and create strategies to move the Employment First initiative forward in DC. Contact: Alison Whyte, [email protected], 202-340-8563

EFLW Members:

  1. Child and Family Services Administration (CFSA) 
  2. DC Health (DOH)
  3. DC Human Resources (DCHR)
  4. DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB)
  5. DC Public Schools (DCPS)
  6. Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL)
  7. Department of Behavioral Health (DBH)
  8. Department of Employment Services (DOES)
  9. Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF)
  10. Department of Human Services (DHS)
  11. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS)
  12. Department on Disability Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDS, RSA & DDA)
  13. Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC)
  14. Office of the Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing
  15. Office of Disability Rights (ODR)
  16. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)
  17. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)/Secondary Transition Community of Practice
  18. University of the District of Columbia (UDC)
  19. Workforce Investment Council (WIC)
For more information or to get involved in the DD Council's Employment First work, contact Kevin Wright, [email protected], at 202-880-7580 (text/call).