California Announces Initiatives to Increase Career Pathways for People with All Disabilities


California Announces Initiatives to Increase Career Pathways for People with All Disabilities

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), the department within the California Health and Human Services Agency that administers the nation’s largest employment and independent living programs for individuals with disabilities, announces two innovative initiatives:

Department of Rehabilitation logo
  1. Establishing the Employment First Office (EFO), which will drive the development of statewide policies that promote the employment of people with the most significant developmental disabilities, and

  2. Renaming DOR as Disability Works California, followed by a comprehensive rebrand and outreach campaign that will enhance its reach to all people with disabilities, as well as employers, educators, and families

The Employment First Office is core to DOR’s mission to provide a pathway for individuals with all disabilities, including those with significant developmental disabilities, to employment at competitive wages in settings with workers both with and without disabilities. The new office’s efforts will focus on policy development to advance employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome. The new office will further advance the Master Plan for Developmental Services and support the Department and the Newsom administration’s commitment to end the outdated practice of paying individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities sub-minimum wages by January 1, 2025.

Both DOR’s new name and the establishment of the Employment First Office align with Governor Newsom’s proposed Master Plan for Career Education, which seeks to improve access to high-paying and fulfilling careers for all students and workers, regardless of race, gender, ability, or any other barrier to employment. It also advances the goals of the proposed Master Plan for Developmental Disabilities to strengthen supports and opportunities for community living.

The modernization effort will begin this year and include the reimagining of DOR as Disability Works California, in partnership with all stakeholders. The new name and branding will be designed to resonate with the diverse spectrum of disability, culture, perspectives, and lived experiences within the disability community, as well as with employers across different sectors and educators assisting students with career planning.

DOR will continue to work in partnership with other state departments and offices offering employment and independent living services, including the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Social Services, and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. DOR will further engage stakeholder input to solicit community feedback on the Department’s rebrand.