The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is launching a program that’s been in development for a long time – “Inclusion Works” –  which is meant to make those employees with disabilities more competitive for job openings and is also meant to help integrate them more tightly into the workplace once they do get those jobs.

 NCDHHS states that every person in North Carolina has “a right to work in an integrated setting for fair pay if that is their choice.”

In a Wednesday, Sept. 20 press release, state social services officials said the program offers resources and support for North Carolinians with disabilities seeking employment as well as for those who are currently employed.

 It also works with employers who hire and retain staff with an intellectual or developmental disability.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said the program doesn’t just benefit those with disabilities.  But it also benefits the employers who take part in the program.

“People with disabilities bring skills, talents, and perspectives that are critical to our workforce,” Kinsley stated in the press release. “This initiative provides opportunity and access that will strengthen our state and local communities.  North Carolina’s economy is stronger when everyone is included in the workforce.”

The program works on helping those with disabilities get full-time or part-time jobs where they are paid at or above minimum wage.

It also stresses placing the physically or mentally challenged workers in work spaces where they interact with people who do not have disabilities.

The Inclusion Works program is available for anyone who has a developmental or intellectual disability who’s interested in working.  There are more than 67,000 adults in North Carolina facing these issues and a lot of those people are eager to work.

The following services are offered as part of the program:

• Career Counseling

• Employment Assessments and Career Planning

• Pre-Employment Transition Services

• Job Training

• Internships

NCDHHS also offers webinars and technical assistance to employers to share best practices and updates regarding services.

In addition, NCDHHS will start holding an Inclusion Works Virtual Lunch and Learn the third Wednesday every month for people with disabilities who are interested in integrated employment for competitive pay.