Disable, disability parking
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a program that will allow county government to hire more people with intellectual disabilities.

With its unanimous vote, the board directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to develop an enhanced employment program and also pursue funding for it.

Robbins-Meyer will return to the board in July with both funding and partnership proposals.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called for the program, saying that every person who wants to work should have a chance, which can be a challenge for those with intellectual disabilities.

He discussed his experience with an employee of his supervisor’s office named Raymond G. Bariuan, also known as Jay. Fletcher said that after being elected to the state Legislature in 2008, he promised then-California first lady Maria Shriver that he would hire Bariuan as a staff member.

Bariuan “brings a genuine joy and love to our office,” Fletcher said.

County officials cited a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts which found that only 44% of adults aged 21 to 64 with intellectual disabilities are in the labor force. According to the study, 62% of adults with intellectual disabilities that are employed have been at their job for three or more years, indicating that many individuals currently employed experience job stability.

Bariuan told supervisors that hiring people like him will benefit the county government.

Several other speakers urged support for hiring more people with disabilities. Keith Robinson, senior job placement specialist with Partnerships with Industry, praised Bariuan for his work ethic. Robinson said his organization works with more than 200 San Diego businesses to hire people with intellectual disabilities, describing it as a win-win situation.

A new county program “is a way to open doors for individuals with disabilities,” Robinson added.

–City News Service