Tim Lynch, Project SEARCH intern who began employment at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Environmental Services

The Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) recognizes the importance of meaningful employment for the working age adults we serve.


Integrated competitive employment will be the first option considered by planning teams for every working-age adult we serve.

Guiding Principles 

• People we serve have the opportunity and support to work in employment settings that are meaningful to them, that are valued by the community, and in which they are appropriately compensated.

• People we serve have the right to make decisions about all aspects of their lives.

• People we serve live, work, learn, and recreate in settings that maximize opportunities to be with persons not paid to be with them.


Assembly Bill 1041, also known as Employment First Policy, an act to amend Sections 4646.5 and 4868 of the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC), and to add Section 4869 to WIC, was effective January 1, 2014.

These statutory changes, in part, are as follows:

4646.5 (a) (4) When developing an individual program plan for a transition-age youth or working-age adult, the planning team shall consider the Employment First Policy.
4869. (a) (1) In furtherance of the purposes of this division to make services and supports available to enable persons with developmental disabilities to approximate the pattern of everyday living available to people without disabilities of the same age, to support the integration of persons with developmental disabilities into the mainstream life of the community, and to bring about more independent, productive, and normal lives for the persons served, 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. This policy shall be known as the Employment First Policy.
(3) Integrated competitive employment is intended to be the first option considered by planning teams for working-age individuals, but individuals may choose goals other than integrated competitive employment.
(c) Regional centers shall provide consumers 16 years of age or older, and, when appropriate, their parents, legal guardians, conservators, or an authorized representative with information, in an understandable form, about the Employment First Policy, options for integrated competitive employment, and services and supports, including postsecondary education, that are available to enable the consumer to transition from school to work and to achieve the outcomes of obtaining and maintaining integrated competitive employment.
4868. (d)(1), “Competitive employment” means work in the competitive labor market that is performed on a full–time or part–time basis in an integrated setting and for which an individual is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled.
(2) “Integrated employment” means “integrated work” as defined in subdivision (o) of Section 4851.
4851. (o) “Integrated work” means the engagement of an employee with a disability in work in a setting typically found in the community in which individuals interact with individuals without disabilities other than those who are providing services to those individuals, to the same extent that individuals without disabilities in comparable positions interact with other persons.

New Policy Development Date: January 25, 2014
Date Adopted/Approved by Board: March 6, 2014