I was delighted to meet with Kris Smith, Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) last week to discuss avenues of support within DRS for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (IDD), employment first, subminimum wages and implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Director and I meet on a regular basis to discuss IDD issues.

Did you know that there are over 13,000 individuals with disabilities in Illinois working under subminimum wage certification? As an Employment First State, we need to be doing everything we can to foster competitive integrated employment for everyone and this is an important premise of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The Division of Rehabilitation Services is the state agency responsible for implementing WIOA so it is critically important to The Arc and other advocates.

The Director shared with me a policy brief from the LEAD Center on the final rule and implementation of WIOA.

I really enjoy working with Director Smith and her team at DRS. They are great resources for us.

From the LEAD Center Policy Brief:

  • First, the final rule strengthens the alignment of the State VR Program with other core components of the workforce development system by imposing requirements governing unified strategic planning, common Performance accountability measurers, and the one-stop delivery system.
  • Second, the final rule emphasizes the achievement of the competitive integrated employment.
  • Third, the final rules emphasizes the provision of services to students and youth with disabilities to ensure that they have meaningful opportunities to receive the employment outcomes in competitive integrated employment.
  • Added to WOIA, imposes requirements on employers who hold special wage certificates…that must be satisfied before employers may hire youth with disabilities at subminimum wages or continue to employ individuals with disabilities of any age at the subminimum wage lever.


Read The Arc’s Policy Matters on WIOA

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Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)