The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announced a total of $8,422,574 in funding for organizations that develop models and provide assistance to adults with disabilities in the job market. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said, “Individuals with disabilities have skills and experiences that employers need. These federal grants will help connect these workers and put them on the path to economic self-sufficiency.”
Many families of children with autism view this as a necessary first step in creating programs designed to employ adults with autism. Most states offer early intervention and programs for children, but this decreases substantially once the child ages out of the school system.
New York state is one of the first to establish the Employment First Commission, which seeks to help individuals with disabilities find employment, and encourages businesses to hire them. “Equality and inclusiveness play a central role in the history of New York state, and today we are continuing that legacy by standing up for the employment needs of people with disabilities,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. New York also offers the Home and Community-Based Waiver, and the Self-Determination Program through the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.
Whether other states will follow suit remains to be seen. It is clear that programs like these will be sorely needed, as the autism rate continues to rise, and as those who were diagnosed during the last two decades start ageing out of the school system, placing a significant burden on an already over-taxed system.