As we prepare to close the book on 2016, I think we can we all agree that it has been a year of big changes. At APSE, we have definitely felt the winds of change blowing and we have thought long and hard about positioning our organization to meet the challenges that lie ahead. With this in mind, let’s take stock of what we have accomplished together and look ahead to the work that is yet to be done.
2016 was a year of growth for APSE…
Here are just a few of the milestones we saw:
- The Employment First movement continued to expand. The US Departments of Education and Labor announced the final rules for implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); states submitted HCBS plans and committed to coming into compliance with the settings rule; and Maryland passed legislation to phase-out subminimum wages.
- APSE membership reached a new high. We are over 3,000 members strong and continuing to grow. Members like you, remind us of the true value of our work and motivate us to keep going everyday. Our work with our national team continues to promote employment opportunities; to advocate with federal, state, and local legislators; to raise awareness in local business communities about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities; to establish and expand equitable employment opportunities; and to urge policy makers to increase funding for integrated employment. If you are ready to work toward advancing Employment First, join APSE today!
- APSE conference participation saw record numbers. Our National Conference in Cincinnati, OH saw record numbers of participants this year (and we can’t forget to mention the record turnout for Karaoke Night!). The conference sessions gave thousands of disability services providers, professionals, and students the tools they need to help place more individuals with disabilities in competitive integrated jobs within their communities.
- APSE significantly increased the number of CESP certifications. We more than doubled our number of certifications this year, solidifying our place as the industry leader when it comes to promoting excellence among employment support professionals. In addition, we welcomed many knowledgeable professionals to present to members on topics such as rural job development techniques.
- Strengthened partnerships with other disability advocate organizations. We are proud of the partnerships we have developed with other national disability advocate organizations, such as the AUCD, the LEAD Center, and Elsivier. Together we have partnered with these and other organizations to bring more information and resources to our members.
The Work Continues
While we will continue to build on our milestones from 2016, APSE also has many new initiatives planned for 2017 (stay tuned for more on those initiatives in the coming weeks). One of our biggest goals is to see wider membership participation and more members participating in APSE committees and initiatives. .
As the only national organization advocating for competitive, integrated employment, we are seeking to empower more of our members to make a difference in their local communities. Are you ready to take on the challenge to do your part to make 2017, a banner year for the inclusive employment movement?
- Attend an APSE event. We are looking forward to offering more great conferences and trainings in 2017. Registration is open for our June national conference in Portland, OR. We’d love to see our 2016 attendance records broken again in the upcoming year. If you’ve never attended an APSE event, make this the year! Check out our video and hear directly from actual conference participants about the benefits they have gained from attending.
- Raise awareness about new challenges. APSE is closely monitoring the national debate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how changes to the law could affect Medicaid expansion funding. We will continue to keep members updated and report on all actions we can take to ease the transition for people with disabilities. You can help by spreading the word to your local business community about these changes and making others aware of how their lives could be affected.
- Donate to APSE. If you would like to see APSE continue to be a driving force pushing the Employment First agenda forward, the single best way to help is by donating to our foundation. We rely on private funding to complete the advocacy, education, and engagement work that we do every day.
Here at APSE we are looking forward to continuing to be a leading voice on Employment First and continuing to be strong advocates for individuals with disabilities gaining the same opportunities as every other citizen. We are ready for 2017. Won’t you join us?
Happy Holidays from APSE!