Woman wearing black sitting at her desk working on the computer and wearing a headset.

Consumer Direct Care Network (CDCN) has led the industry in expanding choice and control since 1990. Our primary line of service is to provide caregiving support to individuals with disabilities so they can maintain independence at home and in their communities. Now, almost thirty years later, we provide care in 17 states to allow people with disabilities to thrive.

Our company vision is to help individuals with disabilities live the life they want. But what does that mean? For those of us in CDCN’s Human Resources department, the world of employment became a focus. Although 2/3rds of individuals with disabilities surveyed indicate they want to work, and probably could with the proper support and encouragement, only 19% of that population are working right now. How can we, a company that strives to help people live the lives they want, help support that goal?

We started a disability-hiring initiative and discovered several questions:

  • How do we lay a foundation of systems and structure to make the initiative successful?
  • How do we educate people on what this initiative means?
  • How do we select a name for the initiative that complements our company culture?

Before we introduced the initiative to our CDCN community, we worked with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to develop best practice guides on disability etiquette, workplace inclusion, and the interactive accommodation process. This established the building blocks towards achieving a fully inclusive workplace.

After that foundation was in place, we established connections with Vocational Rehabilitation, and other community partners. These partnerships helped establish job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

We started ongoing training sessions in the summer which are continuing through the new year to help propel us forward. These sessions discuss how stereotyping people with disabilities can hinder progress, and how to develop an inclusive workplace.

The most exciting part was coming up with the name. As a CDCN employee with a disability, I want to be independent and have the opportunity to go to work and contribute every day. CDCN’s initiative is aimed at taking on barriers to employment and inviting individuals with disabilities to our team. With all of this, and our vision statement in mind, we named this project Independence Works.

The goal of Independence Works is to increase opportunities for people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are as qualified as the rest of us and we can support them. This allows everyone to share their unique abilities and passions every day at CDCN.

We have embraced the road ahead and look forward to building on our successes and learning from our opportunities. Together we’re creating a diverse workplace that champions individuals with disabilities and enhances our ability to support one another at home, at work, and in the community.

Darren Larson | Community Relations / Special Projects Lead
Consumer Direct Care Network | Human Resources