The Maryland Department of Health hosts Maryland Employment First Summit for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

News Release, Maryland Department of Health

Baltimore, MD – To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Maryland Department of Health’s (MDH) Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) will host the Maryland Employment First Summit on Friday, Oct. 11 in Ellicott City, MD. The summit promotes the full workplace inclusion of people with disabilities.

Held annually in October, NDEAM highlights the contributions of workers with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty will present Governor Larry Hogan’s Proclamation recognizing NDEAM in the State of Maryland.

“Integrated employment is critical to building an inclusive community,” said DDA Deputy Secretary Bernie Simons. “The goal of the Employment First Summit is to provide participants with tools and training to help increase the number of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are included in the workforce.”

The Maryland Employment First Summit, this year themed “Partners in Transition,” is one way the DDA champions workplace integration for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The DDA Employment First initiative helps thousands of people with developmental disabilities gain competitive employment in the industries and communities of their choice.

Summit speakers with backgrounds and specialties related to employment support for people with disabilities include:

  • Scott Dennis, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)
  • Marcella Franczkowski, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services
  • John Butterworth, Researcher, Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts at Boston
  • Dale Verstegen, Senior Research Associate, TransCen, Inc.

“The Employment First Summit brings together professionals from across the state and provides essential training to help them support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities to achieve employment in the competitive workforce,” said DORS Assistant Superintendent Scott Dennis.

More than 250 registered participants, including Employment Support Specialists, will learn about the economic impact of workplace integration, benefits of customized employment and strategies to develop employer engagement skills.

The MDH DDA serves more than 24,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families throughout the state. Services focus on five areas: self-determination, self-advocacy, supporting families, housing and employment.

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