The Journey of Community Employment

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act

“I thought employment was for everyone else. Not for my adult child with significant disabilities.” Non-profit providers of employment support, like SEEC, hear this concern every day. We know that the power of low expectations can be the most intractable barrier to employment for those with significant disabilities. When opportunities are limited to the four walls of a sheltered workshop and a paycheck of pennies on the dollar, it can be difficult to see beyond that system. Time and again we witness the success that individualized support for community employment can bring, but this success is only possible if the systems in place have the capacity and technical capability to make it happen.

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R.873/S.260) was introduced in January and is currently being debated by lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives. The bill is designed to build capacity and improve the disability employment support system of states and the service providers within those state systems. The bill is also intended to create an environment which increases opportunities for competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

The main focus areas of the legislation include:

  • State Capacity Building: The bill establishes a state grant program to support competitive
    integrated employment and transition away from subminimum wage for people with disabilities.
  • Provider Transformation: The legislation proposes a grant program for those currently certified to offer subminimum wage in order to transition their business models to support individuals with disabilities into competitive integrated employment.
  • Technical Assistance: The bill establishes a national technical assistance center to support
    states and providers across the country in making this transformation.
  • Holistic Support: The legislation formalizes the use of “wraparound” services which supplement
    employment hours to support an individual’s integration and community participation when they are not working.

According to David Mank, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, “The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act builds on the provisions of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the resulting recommendations issued in 2016 by an advisory committee created by this law. The Advisory Committee for Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities was created by Congress as part of the provisions of WIOA. . . The Committee recommended the well-designed phase-out, over time, of the use of sub-minimum wages in conjunction with capacity building at the local level to deliver competitive integrated employment, one  person at a time.”1

In reality, success is a journey and not a destination. It is only witnessed through each individual story. While we see this success every day at SEEC, we know that often the only experience that matters is yours and those you love. Click below to read more about the journeys of two adults with significant disabilities supported by SEEC. Both of these young men experienced an uncertain future due to their disabilities and intense support needs, but both have found success on their own terms.  

For press inquiries contact Carrie McGraw at 301.576.9000 or

1 Mank, David, PhD, It’s Time to Help States Build Capacity to Provide Competitive Employment for All People with Disabilities

Call your Senator or Congressperson to express your support for The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R.873/S.260).  To find out the names and contact information for your representatives, please see this LINK.