Across the U.S., state and local policymakers are adopting policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent variant outbreaks. As the nation responds, it is important that newly implemented policies are fully inclusive and aligned with disability and civil rights laws and policies. In November 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability – a unique federal-state-local initiative – launched the COVID-19 Policy Collaborative for an Inclusive Recovery to identify ways to support state and local policymakers and other stakeholders as they respond to the pandemic. From February to May 2021, SEED convened renowned subject-matter experts, state and local intermediary organizations and key stakeholders from the disability and workforce communities during a series of three virtual meetings to discuss issues related to returning to the workplace, workforce retention and preparing for work. The Collaborative identified five broad topics for consideration: safety and health; telework; mental health; vaccinations; and workforce readiness. Using the information and examples gleaned from the Collaborative, SEED developed a first-of-its-kind collection of resources designed to ensure newly implemented policies align with disability and civil rights laws and policies. The resources include Frameworks for a Disability-Inclusive Recovery, as well as a simplified policy checklist for a disability-inclusive recovery. The COVID-19 Policy Collaborative: Policy Checklist for a Disability-Inclusive Recovery is an innovative guide that distills the five important topics covered in the Frameworks into policy options that help state and local policymakers adopt disability-inclusive COVID-19 recovery policies and initiatives. The checklist provides an overview of each topic area and offers corresponding policy options to help state and local policymakers adjust their COVID-19 responses to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. Furthermore, each of the policies are based on a review of existing federal, state and local guidance, which ensure the utmost applicability and timeliness of each policy. Because of the Collaborative’s overwhelming success and the usefulness of its key resources like the policy checklist, the unique model is already being replicated in other capacities to better serve policymakers as they respond to the nation’s workforce needs of today and beyond.
The Leith Agency
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