Employment First Initiative

The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) believes that it is time to improve employment outcomes for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in Louisiana.

What is Employment First?

Over the last few years the term “Employment First” has become widely used to describe how state and local systems across the country articulate the values and philosophy which support employment services available to individuals and families.


An “Employment First” approach means integrated individual employment is offered before other service options, and that community employment is supported as the priority outcome in policy, practice, and quality management.

The OCDD believes that individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities have the right to work and through partnerships, vision, and creativity, perceived or real barriers to employment can be overcome.

The OCDD believes that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities CAN work and contribute to their community, when given the opportunity, training, and supports that build on their strengths.

OCDD Position Statement

OCDD released the following position statement and employment definition on July 1, 2011.

Employment will be the primary outcome for all persons receiving OCDD services who are of working age.

Employment is characterized by typical jobs with competitive compensation that are fully integrated in the workforce.

To view a copy of the memo announcing OCDD’s position on Employment First, please click here.

Guiding Principles

  • People with ID/DD are treated with respect, dignity and consideration, by providing employment opportunities that are typical and fully integrated in the community, where they earn a competitive wage. Each person served is a whole person with unique needs, gifts and capabilities.
  • Services shall be person-centered and delivered with an understanding of the needs of the person and the community. People with ID/DD are all integral parts of the competitive workforce and have something valuable to contribute to the community.
  • Services shall be evidenced-based with a systemic approach that focuses on eliminating barriers to individual employment in the community.
  • There is an expectation that all persons with an ID/DD have an equal opportunity to obtain meaningful employment in order to meet the human resource requirements of Louisiana's employers and expanding labor markets.
  • There is a commitment to providing fair, accountable and ethical services to people with ID/DD and to the business community.

State Employment Leadership Network

(SELN) Preliminary Findings and Observations

Louisiana Findings and Observations (SELN) Executive Summary


If you are interested in going to work, please contact a Local Governing Entity (LGE), just click here.

Data Related to Employment Outcomes for Louisiana

State Data: The National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes

State Employment Leadership Network (SELN)
Employment-Related Resources

Human Development Center Employment Resource Page

Louisiana Rehabilitation Services

Louisiana Workforce Commission

Benefits Planning: https://www.hdc.lsuhsc.edu/wscwipa/

Louisiana Work Opportunity Tax Credit: https://www.laworks.net/wotc/

Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN): https://www.latan.org/

Archived training resources: http://new.dhh.lousiana.gov/index.cfm/page/1921/n/409