On February 23, 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 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 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.
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. 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.