Work Pays is designed to support a coordinated system of employment supports and services for people with disabilities in Louisiana.
Work Pays is an ambitious initiative requiring support, coordination, cooperation and diligence from all stakeholders in the public, private for-profit and non-profit sectors.
Work Pays has the support of state agencies that form the Work Pays Steering Committee. Members of the Steering Committee were chosen based on the employment services and supports their agencies provide to people with disabilities. In addition, Work Pays was developed with the commitment and contributions of Louisianans with disabilities and stakeholders in the employment service system. Work Pays flows from an assessment of strengths and needs, while, at the same time, maximizing employment opportunities and supports for people with disabilities.
The ultimate goal of Work Pays is to chart a course of collaborative action resulting in improved services and supports vital to enhancing employment opportunities and maintaining employment for people with disabilities.
People with disabilities in Louisiana face multiple challenges in attaining and sustaining employment. Louisiana has roughly 4.5 million residents and ranks as the 25th most populous state (U.S. Census estimates 2009). Furthermore, Louisiana’s most populated communities are widely separated which creates major barriers to individuals with disabilities, including having transportation to get to work and the delivery of employment related services and supports. The majority of jobs in Louisiana are in the low-paying and service industry sector of the economy even though there are major corporations and government agencies that operate in the most concentrated population centers of the state. Service sector jobs usually do not provide employerbased health coverage, which leaves the state’s Medicaid program to provide health coverage and/or leaves individuals often without coverage.
Many Louisianans with disabilities who are receiving Medicaid or Medicare want to work or are working and would like to increase their work hours but fear their earnings could result in the loss of their health coverage benefits. The fear of losing current health care benefits and the inability to access employer based health insurance has spurred numerous initiatives: the Medicaid Purchase Plan (LaMPP), Louisiana’s Medicaid Buy-In program, and the creation of the Social Security Administration’s Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA). WIPA helps Social Security beneficiaries understand how their benefits will be affected and how to maximize their work efforts and earnings while protecting the services necessary for them to live healthy, productive lives and become self-sufficient.
Louisiana is ethnically and culturally diverse with African Americans representing the largest minority (32%) and Hispanics and Asians comprising an additional 5%. These groups face isolation from job opportunities compounded by the barriers of disability. In 2005, Louisiana was struck by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which had a major impact on the entire state. Prior to 2005, Louisiana had historically high unemployment rates averaging 5.6% and ranking at about 41st in the nation. After the 2005 storms, Louisiana saw a spike in unemployment rates (6.7%) and then a drastic improvement to an average of 4% through 2008, ranking Louisiana 11th. Louisiana’s unemployment rate for people with disabilities is considered to be similar to rates nationwide, although there is no current data to support the assumption. As in the nation. Compared to the national recession in 2009, Louisiana’s unemployment rate neared 8%, making it 44th nationally.
Louisiana’s service delivery system is fragmented and has many “silos” of funding with good efforts occurring within each sector but no cohesive system of employment service delivery. The Work Pays strategic plan provides a road map to support agencies, service providers, consumers and businesses by allying together to coordinate and enhance employment services for people with disabilities. As previously mentioned, the goal is to increase the number of people with disabilities who are working and earning a living wage.
To get the whole picture, download our strategic plan PDF. Click below.
Visit the Louisiana Resource Guide to list your agency and its services, or to find services in your region.
Please enter your e-mail address to subscribe to our news flash.
Add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts to help keep the news flash from going to your spam folder.