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Ideas for Implementing Employment First Activities

Helping educators prepare students to make the move from school to paid employment.

Employment First

What is Employment First?

On October 9, 2013, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1041 (Chesbro), which establishes in statute an Employment First Policy External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

It is the policy of the state that opportunities for integrated, competitive employment shall be given the highest priority for working age individuals with developmental disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities.

What does that mean for the student?

Competitive integrated employment is a real choice for people with developmental disabilities. It will be a full or part-time position at or above minimum wage.

What is integrated employment?

Integrated employment refers to working at a job commonly found in the community in which individuals with disabilities are working with peers without disabilities.

What is competitive employment?

Individuals with disabilities are paid a wage consistent with the wage paid to non-disabled peers for the same task.

Will a student lose benefits if they work?

Students need to meet with their support agencies to develop the necessary plan to protect their public benefits External link opens in new window or tab..

Activities Leading to Employment Readiness

Ideas for School-Based Preparatory Activities Leading to Employment Readiness

  • Enroll students in classes aligned with State standards
  • Enroll students in career technical education classes utilizing curriculum based on industry standards that align with their post-secondary employment goals
  • Utilize person centered planning when developing transition individualized education programs (IEPs)
  • Use multiple measures to assess students
  • Implement individualized and specific accommodations for students allowing them to participate in academic programs

Ideas for Career Planning and Work-Based Learning Activities Leading to Employment Readiness

  • Administer career assessments to identify students’ interests and strengths
  • Provide career research opportunities for students
  • Provide instruction to develop job seeking skills
  • Provide job shadow opportunities for students
  • Provide job coaches
  • Provide exposure to non-traditional job opportunities (i.e. self-employment)

Ideas for Youth Development and Leadership Activities Leading to Employment Readiness

  • Provide students with peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities
  • Provide self-advocacy and conflict resolution instruction
  • Provide students with role models
  • Provide self-esteem building and leadership opportunities

Ideas for Connecting Activities Leading to Employment Readiness

  • Assist students in learning about transportation options and provide mobility training as needed
  • Assist students in learning how to make purchases and manage their money
  • Assist students in developing outside agency connections
  • Invite appropriate agencies to IEP meetings with parent permission
  • Assist students in developing connections with community resources such as recreational activities

Ideas for Family Involvement Leading to Employment Readiness

  • Assist families in developing high expectations for their children with respect to self-sufficiency
  • Actively involve families in transition planning
  • Assist families in learning about post-secondary employment options for their children
  • Assist families in communicating with outside agencies

More information on the WorkAbility I program can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) website.

More information on DOR Student Services External link opens in new window or tab. can be found at the Department of Rehabilitation website.

A list of Regional Centers External link opens in new window or tab. can be found at the Department of Developmental Services website.

Developed by Family Transition Network under the direction of the CDE.

Questions:   WorkAbility I | WorkAbility1@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 1, 2020
Related Content
  • Employment First Policy
    Resources and guidelines for educators, parents, and agencies that will assist transition age youth develop postsecondary goals that lead to competitive, integrated employment (CIE).
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