(Atlanta) - Governor Nathan Deal today signed into law Georgia’s Employment First Act (HB 831), which promotes employment as the first and preferred option offered to people with disabilities receiving government funded services. The Act creates a 14 member council, to be administered by the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) and chaired by GVRA’s Executive Director. The group will be comprised of people with various disabilities, a family member of an individual with a disability, and representatives from state agencies involved in workforce development. Its purpose is to produce biannual reports that make policy and legislative recommendations promoting successful Employment First implementation.

“On the state level, we are committed to making Georgia the best place in which to work, learn and call home for all people,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “Time and again, our diverse and vibrant workforce makes significant contributions to Georgia’s economy and strengthens our distinction as the No. 1 state for business. With this legislation, the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency will have greater support for Employment First implementation, thereby expanding opportunities for individuals with disabilities and benefitting communities across the state.”

In states where Employment First has been implemented, employment rates of individuals with disabilities has increased significantly. GVRA’s Executive Director, Sean T. Casey acknowledged the multiplier effect.

“When you have a person, previously dependent upon government benefits, and they go to work, they get more than a paycheck,” Casey said. “They get a sense of pride because now they can contribute financially to their households. They develop social networks where previously, they may have been isolated. And the money they earn gives them spending power to help create stronger economies.”

Our commitment to Employment First and the work of implementation begins immediately. Our next step is the development of the Council and selection of members, who will be appointed by the Governor. The Council will begin work as soon as this summer, with Crystal Perry, GVRA’s WIOA and Compliance Director and longtime Employment First expert, leading the implementation.

About GVRA:

GVRA is the state’s Vocational Services organization. It was established through legislative action in 2012 with the goal of helping every Georgian with a disability who wants a career to attain success. The organization incudes five statutory programs: vocational rehabilitation, Roosevelt Warm Springs and Cave Spring Center, Georgia Industries for the Blind, the Business Enterprise Program and Disability Adjudication Services. More information is available at gvs.ga.gov.

Media Relations:

Robin Folsom, Director of Communications and Marketing, (404) 922-1303