Employment policy and autism: Analysis of state workforce innovation and opportunity act (WIOA) implementation plans
The problem of persistently low rates of employment and earnings for people with autism is well established. In the U.S., the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) updated the legal framework for the federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program which assists people with disabilities to find and maintain employment.
This study examined whether and how the needs of transition-age youth and adults with autism are addressed in state WIOA plans.
We analyzed WIOA documents for all states plus the District of Columbia using content analysis.
Of the 51 state plans, 44 contained references to autism, and 19 explicitly identified autism as a disability group that is underserved by the state VR agency. Even among states that clearly defined autism as underserved, only 10 provided comprehensive plans which defined goals and strategies to address the vocational needs of this group. We discuss major themes related to VR service delivery for people with autism identified within the state plans.
This study identifies state policy aimed at facilitating employment for people with autism and contributes to efforts to discover why individuals with autism in some states have better employment outcomes than in others.