WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the Customized Approaches to Providing and Building Independent Lives of Inclusion for Transition-aged Youth Act of 2019, also known as the CAPABILITY Act of 2019.
If passed into law, the bill would fund grants that help Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities or autism transition from school to the workforce by creating customized work opportunities, expanding fair-wage jobs in integrated workplaces and creating programs that help teach independent-living and job skills.
“We should be focusing on ability and celebrating what every person has to offer, which is why we need to reduce the barriers to employment for people with disabilities,” McMorris Rodgers said. “The CAPABILITY Act will provide access to customized employment plans and competitive integrated employment so that every person is empowered to achieve their version of the American Dream. I’m proud to join Rep. Seth Moulton in introducing this bipartisan legislation.”
“America is a great nation because we help our citizens make the most out of the talents each of us is born with.” Moulton said. “This bill will help young Americans with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities have the opportunity to create independent lives for themselves and have the dignity of meaningful work in their communities.”
Federal laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, require high schools and adult disability systems to work together and help Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from school to the workforce. In reality, many states lack the funding to deliver on the promise these policies provide. Currently, just 21 percent of young Americans with intellectual disabilities are employed, a trend that continues into later life meaning fewer adults living with disabilities are ever able to join the workforce.
The CAPABILITY Act would help fix the problem by:
- Creating grants for states to assist transition-aged youth — The bill creates six competitive grants for states that would span four years. The states that earn the grants would use them on pre-employment transition services that support Americans with autism spectrum disorder or intellectual and developmental disabilities that comply with requirements applicable to competitive, integrated employment. Competitive integrated employment is a technical term used by disability advocates and the government. It means jobs performed by Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a workplace that includes workers with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities, and pays Americans with an intellectual and developmental disability at a rate comparable to adults who do not have intellectual and developmental disabilities and do the same job.
- Developing models for other states —At the end of each grant’s four-year lifespan, the states that receive them will have to evaluate their success and report state data on the people served by the grants to the federal government. The bill also directs the Secretary of Labor to submit a report to Congress evaluating successes and shortcomings to inform future policies.
- Prioritizing states that can guarantee more job opportunities to their residents — The CAPABILITY Act will prioritize the states that are able to ensure employment for individuals assisted by the funds and those that seek technical assistance, use evidence-based models for delivery, implement peer mentoring services, and demonstrate a plan to coordinate with local employers.
The Moulton-McMorris Rodgers bill has received support from several of the nation’s leading disability advocates.
Kim Musheno, Vice President of Public Policy for the Autism Society of America, said: “The Autism Society of America is pleased to support the CAPABILITY Act. This legislation will help youth with autism and other developmental disabilities transitioning from school to get meaningful jobs with fair wages. State employment systems need a range of effective strategies and evidence-based interventions, such as customized employment, to successfully help people with significant disabilities obtain and retain employment. This bill authorizes competitive grants to help states build the capacity to provide these effective strategies.”
ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill said:“Fifty years of experience and the perspectives of the 1,600+ private providers of community services that comprise ANCOR’s membership tell us that fulfilling, meaningful work opportunities are critical for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages, especially those making the transition from school to work. That’s why ANCOR is proud to support the introduction of the CAPABILITY Act of 2019, and grateful to Representatives Moulton and McMorris Rodgers for championing legislation that promotes competitive, integrated employment.”
Madeleine Will, President of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, said: “Successful transition from school to employment is critical to putting youth with disabilities on a pathway to inclusion, independence, and self-determination. The CAPABILITY Act will help build capacity to support all transition-age youth with disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment.”
Vince Loose, SourceAmerica’s President and CEO said: We applaud Congressman Moulton and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for their leadership in the employment of people with disabilities. The CAPABILITY Act addresses the critical need for customized employment models that maximize the skills and talents of America’s youth with disabilities. SourceAmerica proudly supports the CAPABILITY Act, and we’re honored to assist in its development.”
The CAPABILITY Act is endorsed by:
American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
Autism Society of America
Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination
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