Friday, June 17, 2011

Parlette receives award from national organization aimed at employing individuals with disabilities

OLYMPIA… ASPE, a national non-profit organization aimed at helping members of the disability community gain employment, has presented Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, with an award for preserving important options for the disabled in the state’s operating budget. Parlette accepted the award at a luncheon in Seattle during the group’s national conference.

This session the House of Representatives’ proposed budget included language that would have put developmentally disabled (DD) individuals at risk to lose other DD-related services if they chose to move from an employment service to an adult day-type service.

Representatives from the DD community contacted Parlette, who pulled together key groups involved in the issue, including DD representatives, budget writers and legislative staff. Working together, they were able to get language into final budget which ensures that vital employment-related options will be preserved for DD clients.

“When representatives of the developmentally disabled community came to me this year and expressed their concerns that an adult day program would not adequately meet the needs and potential of the developmentally disabled clients they represent, I knew we had to act quickly,” said Parlette. “It was very important to get language into the final budget that will help people with special needs reach their full potential and retain the options and services that will work best for them.”

APSE, founded in 1988 as the Association for Persons in Supported Employment, is the only national organization with an exclusive focus on integrated employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The group’s members come from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as several foreign countries.

Each year APSE recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that have demonstrated outstanding practice and achievement in advancing integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Marcie Taylor, Executive Director of Washington-based Community Employment Alliance, described Parlette’s work on the issue.

“She heard our concerns, thoughtfully considered all positions, sat down and drafted Senate budget language that preserved Supported Employment in Washington state, and defended it until it passed,” Taylor said.

Parlette’s APSE award reads:

“Special recognition award presented to Senator Linda Evans Parlette for exceptional public service and initiative in preserving the ability of people with disabilities to join the workforce and thus pursue the same sense of job satisfaction, belonging and accomplishment everyone desires.”

“I am so pleased that we were able to ensure that services for disabled individuals won’t be jeopardized because they want to choose another program that works best for them,” said Parlette. “This gives them the flexibility they need to reach their full potential.”

AtWork! CEO and staff were pleased to be present at the APSE award luncheon this week to say “thank you” to Senator Parlette. AtWork! supports people with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential through integrated employment. Senator Parlette was instrumental in preserving Washington State’s innovative and nationally recognized “employment first” policy. This policy, the funding to implement it, and the contributions of AtWork! supporters are dramatically changing the lives of citizens with disabilities every day. Thank you again, Senator Parlette, for recognizing the importance of employment and the dignity, status, and equality it brings to people with disabilities.

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