VERMONT RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL ZERO PROJECT AWARD AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE IN VIENNA
News Release — Department of Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living
February 24, 2017
Department of Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living/DDSD
Award Recognizes Program Innovation in Supported Employment Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
WATERBURY, VT – On February 23, 2017, the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) and its partner agencies were recognized by the Zero Project at its 2017 conference held at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. Vermont received the “Innovative Policy 2017 on Employment, Work, and Vocational Education” award for its Supported Employment Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities. This award recognizes countries, governments, and organizations that incorporate innovative practices into their human services through sustained policies.
The Vermont Chapter of Association of People Supporting Employment First (VTAPSE) and the University of Vermont financed the travel cost for a delegation consisting of Bryan Dague, Research Associate at University of Vermont; Elizabeth Sightler, Executive Director at Champlain Community Services; and Lisa Culbertson, Employment Director at Upper Valley Services, to attend the conference and receive the award on behalf of DAIL and their supported employment colleagues. The delegation presented “Vermont Supported Employment Program of 1983 Innovation” to more than 500 participants from 70 different countries.
The positive impact to individuals, the scalability of its model, and the ability to sustain and enhance employment services are factors that led to the prestigious award. The path to receiving the 2017 Zero Project award began in 1983 when DAIL, partner agencies, and UVM launched a system change initiative to move people from segregated work and substandard wages into the typical workforce and jobs at prevailing rates. Job site supports for employees and employers addressing the needs of both allowed workers with significant challenges to be successful alongside their coworkers.
Today, about 1,260 Vermonters with developmental disabilities are working. Vermont’s employment rate for individuals who receive developmental disabilities services is 48 percent, as compared to the national average of 35 percent. DAIL’s employment program is known beyond Vermont for well-implemented employment practices and policies. Many states and countries come to Vermont to learn about the principles that guided the establishment of Vermont’s Supported Employment Program: employment, decent work, and meaningful vocational education and training of persons with disabilities.