DVRLeadership, staff and consumers of The Independence Center (The IC) as well as community members and DVR vendors attended a public stakeholder’s meeting hosted at The IC regarding the merge of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and Division of Vocational Rehab (DVR). CDLE and DVR leadership was well represented at the meeting on October 13. The two agencies have been working since March 2015 to make this merger happen as seamlessly as possible. The meeting was called to solicit public input regarding needs and services.

The Independence Center supports the merger. Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC describes the goal of the merger as ultimately “a job for all who would need one,” while better using government resources to serve persons with and without disabilities looking for work. Under the new merger, if a person with a disability needs additional services centered around functional limitations, DVR staff can join the CDLE team to provide services for the person in the Workforce System. Previously, persons with disabilities were served completely separate from CDLE. In the case of disability rights, Yeager sees “separate services” as not equal.

Yeager addressed vision with panel members from CDLE and DVR. Yeager’s vision for persons with disabilities to be able to enter through the same door as everyone else at CDLE is a powerful place to start in accessibility and inclusion of DVR clients at CDLE. Ellen Golembek, Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Employment, agreed that CDLE shares that goal and cautioned it will take some time.

Ten public meetings were scheduled for statewide input and the meeting at The Independence Center was 8th of the 10 meetings. CDLE and DVR held the final wrap-up meeting in Denver on October 21 from 5:30 – 7:00 PM at DVR’s new space, 633 17th Street, Suite 1500, Denver, CO 80202. The CDLE and DVR summarized findings with a final report at this meeting.