Employment Resources

Competitive Integrated Employment Overview for Providers and School Districts

CIE Includes:

  • Work in an integrated setting;
  • Minimum wage or above;
  • Employee benefits and equal promotional opportunities

Agencies mandated to assist individuals to achieve CIE include:

  • School Districts, CA Dept. of Education (CDE)
  • Regional Centers, CA Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS)
  • CA Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

Regional Centers assist individuals with CIE by securing services and supports to maximize opportunities and choices for living, working and recreating in the community. E.g.:

  • Supported Employment
  • Independent Living Skills
  • Vocational Education
  • Self-employment resources
  • Mobility training and related transportation services to assist in achieving CIE

Settings that are NOT CIE:

  • Day Programs that typically provide non employment-related services during the day, commonly in segregated settings
  • Work Activity Centers/Sheltered Workshops that typically take place in a segregated setting and offer compensation below minimum wage
  • Enclaves (segregated group employment) settings that typically pay less than minimum wage

What is the Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) Blueprint?

Launched in 2014, finalized in 2017.

Prepared by the CA Dept. of Education, CA Dept. of Rehabilitation, and the CA Dept. of Developmental Services.

The Blueprint is the result of the commitment between the three departments to provide opportunities for Californians with I/DD, regardless of the severity of their disability, to prepare for and participate in CIE.

The Blueprint addresses the following areas:

  • Expanding joint information sharing
  • Coordinating efforts across the three systems to utilize existing resources more effectively
  • Increasing collaboration between departments at the state level, and entities at the local level, to better plan, implement, and evaluate services to increase competitive integrated employment
  • Increasing participation of individuals with I/DD in the California workforce development system
  • Improving business partner engagement with regard to hiring individuals with I/DD in both the public and private sectors
  • Offering individuals, their support network, and business partners, information and technical assistance related to CIE


Competitive Integrated Employment Resources

Resource Information on ‘Employment First’, Post-Secondary Education Options, and Successful Employment Models

Employment First Policy

The federal Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) defines Employment First as a framework for systems change that is centered on the premise that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life. ODEP’s Employment First Policy

California’s commitment to employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is expressed in the Employment First Policy signed into law by Governor Brown on October 9, 2013: “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.”


Policy into Practice and Results

The Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) is leading a coordinated effort to advance Employment First policy into good practice and results through its Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) which offers intensive technical assistance and training to several core states. Additionally, the EFSLMP platform created a Community of Practice (CoP) which is open to Employment First teams from all states. The Community of Practice provides a variety of services to support state Employment First teams, including monthly educational webinars on Employment First topics, and access to a variety of technical assistance resources at no cost to participating states. The Webinars are recorded and accessible for anyone Here.

The California Employment Consortium for Youth and Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CECY)  is a collaboration of over 45 representatives from 23 state agencies, centers, and organizations, families, and self-advocates with responsibilities for the education, rehabilitation, employment, and support of youth with disabilities. Their mission is to stimulate policy change and build capacity in California state systems and local communities to increase the number of youth and young adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in integrated competitive employment.

CECY has a number of Policy Briefs with recommendations for policy and system change to improve employment outcomes for youth and for adults.

CECY and the Council’s Employment First Committee (EFC) have partnered on data collection and analysis with the Department of Developmental Services and Employment Development Department.


California Employment Data Dashboard

The California Developmental Disabilities System Employment Data Dashboard presents the most recent data on how well California is doing in implementing its Employment First Policy, supporting people to have jobs in their communities making at competitive wages.

Employment Data Dashboard Icon
View Employment Data Dashboard


The State Council on Developmental Disabilities has an Employment First Committee that includes self-advocates, family members, and representatives from many agencies and organizations dedicated to improving integrated competitive employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE): Blueprint for Reform The California Department of Education, the Department of Rehabilitation, and the Department of Developmental Services and Disability Rights California are working on changes to state law, regulation, policy, and practices to make employment in an integrated setting, at competitive wage a reality for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities   



ODEP has developed an Integrated Employment Toolkit which includes practical information and documents to facilitate the movement of states, organizations and, most importantly, youth and adults to integrated employment as their primary option for employment.

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has a Work Services Home Page which includes links to resources and information for consumers, families, service providers, and regional centers.

The California Department of Education (CDE) has guidelines and resources to assist youth with disabilities as they transition from school to adult life, including education and training, employment and independent living. Transition Resources

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) has a Supported Employment Program which provides activities and services, including ongoing support services, needed to support and maintain an individual with a most significant disability in an integrated employment setting for the term of employment. Information on the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is available on the DOR site. DOR also supports a California Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities   to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities in California.

The following is a partial list of resources and resource lists:

Some Successful Employment Models

  • SCDD’s Employment First Committees’ 2014 Annual Report lists, “Best Practices in Transition”:
    • Customized Employment
    • Discovering Personal Genius
    • Parent support group centered on families supporting their transition-age youth to achieve integrated competitive employment
    • Intensive involvement of family and friends
    • Partnership between schools and service providers
    • Team work between schools, service providers, regional centers, Department of Rehabilitation, youth and families.
    • Using alternative sources of funding such as the federal Ticket to Work programs.


The aforementioned annual report also lists best practice information gleaned from grants CECY awarded to seven organizations in California; and, selected programs as follows:

  • Using hybrid funding streams
  • Obtaining industry certificates
  • Creating collaborations to increase job development capacity.
  • Irvine Union School District
  • Glenn County Office of Education
  • Taft College Transition to Independent Living Program
  • Sweetwater Unified School District
  • TransCen (Work Link))
  • East Bay Innovations
  • Whittier Unified High School District


Although not mentioned in the report, another agency that has shown success in in helping individuals with significant disabilities find gainful employment is Progressive Employment Concepts, which Community Integration funding from regional centers for “discovery” to find out the strengths and interests of their clients with funding from the Department of Rehabilitation.

There are certainly other agencies with success, which will be added to this list as we learn about them!

Customized Employment Customized employment is a flexible process designed to personalize the employment relationship between a job candidate and an employer in a way that meets the needs of both. It is based on an individualized match between the strengths, conditions, and interests of a job candidate and the identified business needs of an employer. Customized Employment utilizes an individualized approach to employment planning and job development — one person at a time . . . one employer at a time.

Braiding Funding and Resources. TransCen, Inc.’s WorkLink program: A new day for day services utilizes the Developmental Disabilities Service (DDS) system to augment Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services to facilitate direct hire, integrated jobs for people with more significant intellectual disabilities. This program was funded by the State council through a Program Development Fund Grant for FY 2014-15.

Tailored Day Services is a regional center/DDS funding category and code that is being used to support young adults and adults with I/DD in postsecondary and employment opportunities.


Post-Secondary Education Opportunities

Think College is the primary national source of information about college for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their film Rethinking College encourages youth with developmental disabilities to think about college as an option for them.

Pacer’s National Parent Center on Training and Employment states that postsecondary education is an exciting opportunity for all youth, but reminds that it is much different than high school, and youth must take a more active role in knowing their rights and advocating for needed supports.

UCLA’s Tarjan Center supports Postsecondary Education through its Open the Doors to College provides information, training, and evaluation services to the California Community College System, including 8 newly established College to Career Programs to further advance educational opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. And, through its California Consortium on Higher Education for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) a 10 – year collaboration among representatives from higher education, the developmental disabilities service system, k-12 education, rehabilitation, parents, and students to create new opportunities for access and participation in higher education. See their Resources section with questions that students and families might have about college.

Tarjan Center also developed the Pathway at UCLA Extension, a 2-year post-secondary education program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and autism.

The College to Career Program (C2C)  provides youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism with higher education and vocational training at eight California community and junior colleges.

Project College at University of San Diego supports youth with disabilities in an actual college experience that will inspire and prepare them for ongoing postsecondary opportunities.

Taft College’s Transition to Independent Living Program provides support and training on a community college campus that promotes acquisition of the functional, social, and career skills necessary for students to live a productive and normalized lifestyle.

Project Search is an international trademarked and copyrighted program model, which focuses solely on employment for Project SEARCH interns. High School Transition Program is a unique, business led, one year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. There are a number of Project Search sites in California serving transition-age students, and in some instances, adults.

CA Promise The California Promise Initiative (CaPROMISE) represents the opportunity for multiple organizations, working in partnership, to provide a coordinated set of services and supports to child SSI recipients ages 14-16 and their families designed to increase economic self-sufficiency.

California Association for Postsecondary Education is made up of faculty, staff and students with disabilities. It provides support services and information about adapted curricula and academic accommodations for students with disabilities at California’s colleges and universities. Also provides technical assistance for disability services offices and scholarships for students with disabilities. Call 562-397-2810 for more information, or visit their site Here