Following the legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed into law the Vulnerable Individuals Priority (VIP) Act, co-sponsored by Joe Fain (R-Auburn) that will provide developmental disability services to 5,000 people currently on a waiting list.
The measure, which had strong support of advocates for developmental disability services and lawmakers, will provide additional respite care and supported employment assistance.
"Having a job provides a sense of purpose and community. People with developmental disabilities take great pride when they can share their skills and take on responsibilities within an organization," said Fain. "Under this plan more than 1,000 people who want to work, but require supported employment and assistance would finally get the help they need."
Washington features an "Employment First" policy providing assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities to help them become and remain employed.
"This year featured a historic legislative session for issues impacting individuals with developmental disabilities," said Joe Cunningham from The Arc of King County, an advocacy and support coalition for people with developmental disabilities. "Because of this legislation 5,000 eligible people waiting for services will now get help and families will keep their part-time respite providers and gain flexibility in how hours are used. Thank you to the Washington State Legislature for making a huge difference for a community that will be well served by this change."
Despite expanding state services the VIP Act would not cost the state additional money by utilizing an increased federal match for services provided in the community.
"The Legislature's commitment to supported employment for people with developmental disabilities aligns with Orion's mission of training and providing job placement services in South Puget Sound," said Federal Way City Councilmember Kelly Maloney, who serves as the Corporate Marketing Director for Orion Industries in Auburn. "We've seen firsthand the incredible benefits for individuals we help transition into community-based employment. This legislation is another strong step forward to improve quality of life and opportunities for job seekers with disabilities."
The Senate unanimously approved the legislation, which received overwhelming support in the House of Representatives.
"I've had the great privilege to meet many South King County residents with developmental disabilities who have thrived when having the opportunity to work," said Fain. "We're fortunate to have supported employment groups like Auburn-based Trillium, SKCAC Industries and Employment Services, Orion, Kent Meridian's TOP program and others who do great work to help find jobs and provide support and training to keep people in those jobs."