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James Plastiras, Director of Public Information
New York State Office of Mental Health
518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

January 11, 2018

New York State Expanding Program to Help Individuals with Disabilities Find Employment

Announces Upcoming Webinars Detailing New System

The New York State Employment First Commission, created by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and chaired by the New York State Office of Mental Health, has announced new resources to help increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The new program, called the "Employment First Benefits Advisory System," will provide advice on financial assistance and work incentives for individuals with disabilities who are working or seeking work.

Dr. Ann Sullivan, Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health said, "Governor Cuomo's Employment First initiative has helped individuals with physical and behavioral health conditions find meaningful employment and make a valuable contribution to their community.  For a person with a disability, employment increases quality of life and self-esteem. For a business, hiring a person with a disability creates a more diverse workforce and increases the talent pool of job candidates.  Here in New York, we believe that it is essential to provide everyone with a fair opportunity to work and succeed."

In September of 2014, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order to establish the Employment First Commission, tasked with creating an Employment First policy for New York, to increase the employment rate, and decrease the poverty rate for New Yorkers who are receiving services from the State. The Commission also encouraged businesses to establish formal policies to hire people with disabilities as part of their workforce strategy.

The Benefits Advisory System was developed through a collaborative effort between seven New York State agencies to create a single approach to the coordination of employment supports, and to provide all New Yorkers - regardless of their disability - with a single point of access for all employment-related services, including job matching with the approximately 90,000 jobs currently posted by employers in the New York State Job Bank.


To help prepare for the introduction of the system during the first quarter of 2018, the Commission is inviting all professionals who support individuals with disabilities to attend a webinar on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, from 2 to 4 p.m., to learn more about the process design, to understand their role as a provider or advocate, and to obtain an overview of each benefit that will be addressed.

Then, on Tuesday, January 30, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Commission is asking providers, as well as individuals with disabilities, to attend a detailed webinar on each of the work incentives and components that will be addressed through this campaign. Both webinars can be registered for ahead of time.

The Commission invites all individuals, advocates, and providers to attend these webinars and to share the webinar dates with the numerous New Yorkers with disabilities who are seeking employment, or thinking about obtaining employment. At that time,  the New York State Employment Services System (NYESS) will walk attendees through the steps that parties involved in the process will need to complete.

The Employment First Commission is chaired by the New York State Office of Mental Health in collaboration with the:

  • Department of Health;
  • Department of Labor;
  • Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services;
  • Office for People with Developmental Disabilities;
  • Commission for the Blind;
  • Office for the Aging;
  • Office of Children and Family Services;
  • Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation;
  • Division of the Budget;
  • Department of Economic Development;
  • Department of Transportation;
  • Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance;
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs;
  • Governor's Deputy Secretary for Health;
  • Governor's Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights;
  • Governor's Deputy Secretary for Human Services;
  • Chief Diversity Officer;
  • Counsel to the Governor; and
  • the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, in consultation with the Department of Education.

This is a message from the New York State Office of Mental Health. 

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