Category Archives: National News

Press Release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Colorado to Participate in National Program to Increase Employment of People With Disabilities

State now on track to become a model employer for “Employment First” program

(DENVER) — The Department of Labor and Employment announced today that Colorado has been selected as one of a growing number of states that will participate in an innovative national program to help people with disabilities obtain Competitive, Integrated Employment (CIE).

Even in a strong economy, people with disabilities are often unemployed or at least underemployed.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018, the proportion of the disabled population that was employed was 19.1 percent. In contrast, the employment to population ratio for those without a disability was 65.9 percent.

Improving the disability employment statistics in Colorado will take a concerted effort but it can certainly be done.  That is the ambitious goal of a national movement called Employment First. The movement is centered on the belief that all citizens, including even those with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in employment and community life and that Competitive Integrated Employment is the first and preferred outcome, regardless of the level of disability.

In February, Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee appropriated three years of funding to the Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to implement key Employment First strategies.

Among the strategies was the creation of an Office of Employment First that will be a center of excellence and accountability for Employment First policies, practices and implementation.  With its establishment, the state is now receiving technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and no-cost consultation from a network of national experts.

A second strategy was developing an Employment First Initiative that will allow Colorado State Government to lead by example.  Colorado’s goal is to be recognized as a “Model Employer” by hiring more people with disabilities.  The action is designed to encourage more private sector employers to invest in diversity as a business asset.

Among the other strategic priorities is capacity planning.  As the program grows and expands, it will require flexibility to meet increased capacity needs.  A website will be developed to increase outreach; information and training resources for families and individuals must be designed and implemented and, of course, sustainable funding is necessary to ensure that the Employment First Initiatives achieve traction and results in year-over-year job gains and equitable employment for people with disabilities.

“Our Division of Vocational Rehabilitation will be a key player at every step in the Employment First program,” says Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joe Barela.  “But success won’t be achieved by one agency.  It will demand a coordinated effort of several agencies and more than one level of government.  The Employment First approach is a framework aimed at encouraging a more crosscut and integrated approach to getting people with disabilities into employment and self-sufficiency.  We’re excited about the work ahead.”

Links to Additional Documents:

From Community Catalyst…

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Dear Partners,

The growth of surprise out-of-network medical bills has risen to be a top health care concern for many people in the U.S. Surprise medical bills can happen to anyone, no matter what kind of health insurance they have. When patients inadvertently use providers that are not in their health plan’s network, they are directly billed by these providers the difference between what their health plan agrees to pay and what the provider charges. Such a practice is known as surprise balance billing and it can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars, leaving patients with little recourse and potentially devastating medical debt.

It is important to devise policies that will put a check on the growing monopoly power of providers as well as protect consumers. Ending surprise medical bills is a policy solution that has the potential to do both. Toward that end, our new report, “Ending Surprise Balance Billing: Steps To Protect Patients and Reduce Excessive Health Care Costs” lays out what we see as the essential elements of federal and state policy solutions to the surprise-out-of-network bill problem, and that addresses both consumer protection and monopoly power.

We hope our recommendations are valuable to you and other stakeholders with a shared interest in taking practical steps to end surprise medical bills and working to lower health care costs overall.

Please do not hesitate to contact Quynh Chi Nguyen, Policy Analyst, at with any questions or feedback.

Michael Miller
Strategic Policy Director, Community Catalyst

Family Voices National Team news- Developmental Disabilities Month

From our bi- monthly National team Newsletter


(ACL Bulletin, 3/1/19)

March 1 marks the first day of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. All month, ACL will be sharing blogs and resources through our listserv and Facebook and Twitter pages. We hope you will join us in celebrating the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the community!

To help you get involved, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities and National Disabilities Rights Network have partnered on a social media campaign that highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life, as well as the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in their communities.

The campaign has developed a social media guide with content you can post throughout the month. The guide includes four themed weeks and will be updated with additional content each Monday. There are no set guidelines for posting – feel free to share whatever you want, whenever you want, and remember to use #DDAwareness19!

If you have resources or materials that you think should be included, please email Jessica Misilo at Examples of resources include videos, toolkits, news articles, photos, personal stories, and promising practices.

New this year, the campaign will be highlighting artwork created by people with disabilities. NACDD will be showcasing the artwork on its Facebook page and art by Gary Murrel is featured in the DD Awareness Month banner above.