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A complex maze of public policies, benefits, programs, services, and supports across federal departments and agencies impact the lives of adults across the full spectrum of disabilities. For millions of working age adults with disabilities, a dependence on public benefits for income, health care, food and housing becomes a trap that requires staying poor to stay eligible. U.S. Census data demonstrates that people with disabilities are three times more likely to be living in poverty than their nondisabled peers.  People with disabilities are also more likely not to have graduated college and be unemployed than their nondisabled peers.

A core mission of the LEAD Center is to focus on public policy analysis and development that improves equality of opportunity for effective and meaningful participation of jobseekers with disabilities in American Job Centers and the Workforce Development system. The mission also advances, for the target audience, their employment in competitive integrated settings, options for pursuit of self-employment and improved outcomes regarding economic stability and mobility.