Check Out RCOC’s Employment Stats on the DDS Performance Dashboard
For many of us, whether or not we have a disability, the work we do is a big part of our identity. Satisfying work can provide a sense of purpose and meaning to our daily lives, and offer opportunities to achieve and build self-esteem. So it’s no surprise that employment is a high priority for the individuals and families we serve, and thus, one of RCOC’s top priorities.
California’s Legislature also recognizes the importance of work. In fact, it is now California’s policy that competitive, integrated employment is to be given the highest priority for adults served by regional centers. And legislators are holding all regional centers accountable by requiring that employment be one of the metrics the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) tracks in its online Performance Dashboard. Though we are still challenged to help secure employment for every person who wants a job, these charts (drawn from the Dashboard) show movement in the right direction.
In 2013, just 12.8 percent of the adults RCOC serves were receiving wages through employment; in 2015, that figure was a full 21 percent. That compares to a California statewide average of 12.5 percent in 2013 and just 13.6 percent two years later. It also brings us in Orange County much closer to the 23.4 percent of people with developmental disabilities nationwide who were employed in 2013 (the most recent year for which DDS has posted comparison figures).
Another challenge we face is increasing the wages that adults with developmental disabilities receive for the work they do, but we have been gratified at the support shown by our Orange County business community. Local employers are genuinely interested in the talents and skills of people with disabilities, and express appreciation for the value that this type of diversity brings to the workplace.
Our employment-focused service providers have shown remarkable creativity and ingenuity in their efforts to help employers identify jobs that would be good matches for individuals with disabilities. And our public school districts have made great strides in helping to prepare young people to make the transition to the world of work.
We look forward to a time when competitive, integrated employment is the norm for those we serve, as it is for typical adults. In the meantime, our Orange County community can be very proud of the outstanding progress we make when we pull together toward this shared goal.