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We envision a culture of inclusive, meaningful, and competitive employment for all people.

The Employment First Strategic Plan

The Colorado Office of Employment First (COEF) is elevating Employment First strategies and practices statewide.

Community-Wide Expertise

Staff, advisors, and stakeholder partners with years of specialization and lived experience are shaping improved employment practices.

State and University Collaboration

An agreement between the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and JFK Partners made COEF a reality.

COEF – Guided by a Mission

Leading Colorado toward equitable employment reaching all people with disabilities through –

  • Collaboration
  • Systems Innovation
  • Training Excellence

COEF is about changing perspectives on what it means to work, de-mystifying the process, promoting barrier-reducing policies and practices, highlighting innovative technologies, and helping employment providers implement the most effective strategies.

COEF Four Primary Service Quadrants - Training, Technical Assistance, Communication and Evaluation

What is Employment First?

Employment First is an effort taken on by states to change systems and create a reality of meaningful work for all people with disabilities, including people with significant and complex disabilities. In an Employment First state, the opportunity to work for competitive wages needs to be provided as the first and  primary option by taxpayer-funded program staff.

How did COEF begin?

The Colorado Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP) recommended an office be formed to coordinate Employment First efforts for the state, to promote competitive integrated employment, and to be a training hub for service providers, job seekers and their families, as well as employers. An appropriation was approved in 2019 by the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado Legislature and these funds were matched with Federal dollars by the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

What is Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE)?

Federal regulations defines CIE as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis (including self-employment) –

(A) for which an individual –

(i) is compensated at a rate that –

(I)(aa) shall be not less than the higher of the rate specified in section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1)) or the rate specified in the applicable State or local minimum wage law; and

(bb) is not less than the customary rate paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by other employees who are not individuals with disabilities, and who are similarly situated in similar occupations by the same employer and who have similar training, experience, and skills; or

(II) in the case of an individual who is self-employed, yields an income that is comparable to the income received by other individuals who are not individuals with disabilities, and who are self-employed in similar occupations or on similar tasks and who have similar training, experience, and skills; and

(ii) is eligible for the level of benefits provided to other employees;

(B) that is at a location where the employee interacts with other persons who are not individuals with disabilities (not including supervisory personnel or individuals who are providing services to such employee) to the same extent that individuals who are not individuals with disabilities and who are in comparable positions interact with other persons; and

(C) that, as appropriate, presents opportunities for advancement that are similar to those for other employees who are not individuals with disabilities and who have similar positions.

CIE is often referred to as:

    • real work for real pay
    • by people with disabilities who perform their jobs alongside people without disabilities
    • and have opportunities to advance or be promoted just like everyone else

Does this sound like you and how you want to be employed?

The Colorado Office of Employment First sits under JFK Partners, the state’s University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, a program of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Its creation was envisioned by Colorado Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP), a multi-state agency and stakeholder-led collaborative, and was made possible, in part, by funding from the Colorado Legislature and generously matched through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).

© 2020 Colorado Office of Employment First. All Rights Reserved.

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