Does a new DVR Director mean new hope for Colorado citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

Those of us who experience disability in Colorado have reason to be hopeful at the appointment of Joelle Brouner as our new Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  We have heard from folks in Washington State, where she hails from, and here in Colorado that Ms. Brouner is both “feisty” and understands that many people underestimate the employment contribution of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She also reportedly has significant knowledge of supported and customized employment and how to get it working here in Colorado.

Joelle Brouner, Colorado's new DVR Director
Joelle Brouner, Colorado’s new DVR Director

The fact the Joelle is from Washington State is important.  While Colorado languishes at 23% of people with an intellectual and developmental disability employed (with most people being served in congregate group “employment” situations), Washington is tops in the nation at 65% (with most in individualized employment, AKA real jobs).  Truth be known, the Colorado Department of Human Services has been in the position of leading the nation in this area… only problem is it was twenty years ago when over 50% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were employed in community settings!  We are hopeful that Ms. Brouner will provide the spark necessary to replicate Washington State’s success in providing real jobs for real pay!

6 Responses to Does a new DVR Director mean new hope for Colorado citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

  1. I certainly share your hope that some change will be good change. It is time to turn around many of the current practices that we know do not fall into the ‘best practice’ arena and return to what the state was doing many years ago with incentives for individualized jobs with real pay.

  2. Hopefully she’ll make some very badly needed changes in a “broken” system. The agency needs to really help people with finding employment, quit patronizing and pretending to be helping. DVR employees earn a big income for very little work.

  3. Colorado is fortunate to have one of the most gifted disability rights leaders in the country working as your DVR Director. Joelle will bring about positive and profound changes in the lives of people with disabilities.

    We miss her here in Washington.

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