Employment First Advisory Partnership

logo for the CO State Rehabilitation Council

What is Employment First?

Work is an important way to participate in the community and economy. The majority of Coloradans of working age are employed. Through employment people cultivate and apply talents, meet others, accomplish goals and gain the resources to live and build the futures they imagine. People who are not participating in the labor force miss out on many of these developmental milestones and frequently face isolation and financial hardship. Lower rates of labor force participation have persisted among people with disabilities in general, and people with the most significant disabilities in particular. Just because this has been true doesn't mean it must continue to be.

Possibilities flow from what we believe and what we expect. Attitudes evolve and so do expectations. That is how innovation occurs, people look at old issues in new ways.

Employment First is a philosophy and a policy paradigm based on practical and innovative thinking about employment for people with the most significant disabilities. Proponents of the Employment First philosophy contend that prior to opting out of working, people with all types or degrees of disabilities should be provided appropriate information, encouragement, supports and services to learn how they can meet the business needs employers present. Advocates for Employment First believe that all people should be given meaningful, individualized opportunities to explore the world of work, to discover how they might contribute, and to chart a course to employment and greater prosperity. People who want to work, deserve a path to opportunity. What they make of the opportunity depends on them.

What is innovative about the Employment First policy paradigm is that it doesn't support one way of going to work for people without disabilities and a separate or discrete path to work for people with disabilities. It's true that workers with disabilities may have a range of needs and challenges and it is also the case that all workers are unique and have needs. People with disabilities are no more or less special than anyone else. Just as it doesn't make sense to segregate the labor force by age, gender or race, proponents of Employment First support a labor force that fully integrates people with and without disabilities as peers where all workers earn minimum wage or better.

What is the Employment First Advisory Partnership and How Does it Relate to the State Rehabilitation Council?

In June 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 16-077 into law making Colorado the latest in a group of 19 states to adopt an Employment First paradigm. The law establishes the Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP), a collaboration between the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment through September 2021. The collaboration also includes representatives with disabilities seeking supported employment, representatives of families of people with disabilities, representatives of those advocating for people with intellectual disabilities as well as others focused on cross-disability interests.

The State Rehabilitation Council was assigned lead agency responsibility for developing, convening and administering the Employment First Advisory Partnership. According to the requirements in law the SRC:

  • Requested that agency partners select their representatives by December 30, 2016.
  • Developed an MOU with agency partners.
  • Administered a blended member recruitment process to identify EFAP members (some members were selected by narrow criteria in the law, others selected through a competitive application process).
  • Members have met monthly since January 2017 for the purpose of developing recommendations to be reported to the General Assembly between November 2017 and January 2018.

EFAP Partners

The Employment First Advisory Partnership works in collaboration with many state agencies and non-profits.  Some of our partners include:

Colorado Office of Employment First

HCPF/Supported Employment

Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities

CO APSE: CO Association of People Supporting Employment First

EFAP Membership

EFAP Council Members

Alia Andrews, Office of Behavioral Health

Steve Bell, Advocate 

Marilee Boylan, Co-Chair, Advocate

Cari Brown, Arc of Larimer County

Katherine Carol, Advocate

Cassidy Dellamonache, Tandem Employment Services of Northern Colorado

Debbie Shackelford, CO Dept. of Higher Education

Karen Ferrington, Mindsource

Meghan Greene, DVR

Thomas Hartman, CO Workforce Development Council

Mike Hoover, Self-Advocate

Tom Knost, Continuum of Colorado

Bob Lawhead, CO Developmental Disabilities Council

Katie Oliver, CO Department of Education

Jim Panzer, Transition Representative

Shantelle Rockman, Integrating Supporting

Adam Tucker, CO Department of Healthcare, Policy and Finance

Patricia Henke, CO Office of Employment First

Subject Matter Experts

Caitlin Adams, DVR

Kristin Corash, Director of DVR

Kelley Land, Virginia Commonwealth University and CO-APSE

Correy Robinson Rosenberg, University of CO School of Medicine

Katie Taliercio, Healthcare Policy and Finance

Shea Tanis, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities

Josh Winkler, Lt. Governor's Office


EFAP Meeting Accommodations

EFAP meetings are open to the public. We welcome visitors. If you wish to join us and require a reasonable accommodation to participate, please direct your request to Sheena Bassett by contacting her at: sheena.bassett@state.co.us. Such requests are welcome anytime. The sooner the SRC is aware of a need for accommodation, the more likely it is that we will be able to fulfill the request.

All in person meetings are held in wheelchair accessible locations and are accessible by public transportation. Meetings are typically held at 633 17th Street, Suite 1501, in downtown Denver. All meetings are also conducted via Zoom.


Open Embed

EFAP Meetings & Materials

Meeting Dates

August 16th, 2021 10:30 - 1:00 pm  Join Zoom Video Conference

8.16.21 Agenda




Upcoming Meetings


October 19th, 2021 10:30 - 1:00 pm  Join Zoom Video Conference

December 21, 2021 10:30 - 1:00 pm Join Zoom Video Conference

Strategic Recommendations Committee

July 15th, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference

August 19th, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference

September 16th, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference

October 21st, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference

November 18th, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference

December 16th, 2021 1:00 - 3:00 Join Zoom Video Conference