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Sheltered Workshop Eligibility May Soon Be Limited

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Cindy Rankin, 43, left, and Sanjay Singh, 31, put labels on rolls of mover's stretch wrap in the Opportunity Builders, Inc. warehouse in Millersville, Md. where both receive less than minimum wage for their work. A bill moving through Congress would put limits on young people with disabilities entering such jobs. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/MCT)

Cindy Rankin, 43, left, and Sanjay Singh, 31, put labels on rolls of mover’s stretch wrap in the Opportunity Builders, Inc. warehouse in Millersville, Md. where both receive less than minimum wage for their work. A bill moving through Congress would put limits on young people with disabilities entering such jobs. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/MCT)

Federal lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to require most students with disabilities to try competitive employment before they could be employed by sheltered workshops.

The U.S. Senate voted 95 to 3 on Wednesday to approve a sweeping jobs bill known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Tucked within the measure are significant changes for students with disabilities transitioning to adulthood.

Chiefly, the bill would prohibit individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger from working in jobs paying less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour unless they first try vocational rehabilitation services, among other requirements. There are exceptions, however, for those already working for what’s known as subminimum wage and in cases where individuals are deemed ineligible for vocational rehabilitation.

Beyond limiting who can work for less than minimum wage, the legislation also mandates that state vocational rehabilitation agencies work with schools to provide “pre-employment transition services” to all students with disabilities. What’s more, the agencies must dedicate at least 15 percent of their federal funding to help those with disabilities transition from school to work under the measure.

Practically, lawmakers said the changes will mean that those in special education will be able to access internships and other opportunities to try out different work environments.

“It will help prepare a new generation of young people with disabilities to prepare for, to obtain and succeed in competitive, integrated employment, not substandard, subminimum wage, dead-end jobs, but jobs in which people with disabilities can learn and grow to their maximum potential,” U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said of the bill.

“Basically, we’re going to give persons with disabilities the same supports and experiences that everyone else expects and receives which they haven’t had in the past,” Harkin said.

The legislation is the product of years of negotiating. Last month, members of Congress announced they’d reached a bipartisan, bicameral deal to finally move the measure forward.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the workforce bill soon and the White House has signaled its strong support.

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Comments (37 Responses)

  1. Mark L. Olson says:

    This sounds good on paper, but it’s a terrible idea. Removing the safety net doesn’t create opportunities…it punishes those who have fewer abilities and aren’t able to advocate for themselves as higher-functioning persons can. It is the same as ending benefits for the long-term unemployed typical individuals expecting that magically they’ll find work. What should be done is to empower nonprofits and private companies to create opportunities enough to meet the demand, and create a real marketplace from which persons with disabilities can choose. This act will create a new generation of people relegated to living in their parents’ homes watching TV.

  2. Barb says:

    This will work, if only the funding and supports are actually given to the person with a disability transitioning out of school. If the funding isn’t there, or is taken away after a year or two, then it will be a massive failure. Also it needs to be a requirement that they will earn at least the minimum wage, and that it will not affect their eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and Medicare.

  3. Suad Bisogno says:

    Mark, I disagree with you statement. I worked at a sheltered workshop for a month and so many people that are there are fully capable of being employed, regardless of how significant their disability. Some that I spoke to have been working there for 20+ years and earn as little as $1.00 an hour. I currently work for an organization that helps people with developmental disabilities find competitive employment in their community. We help competitively employ people that Department of Rehab has stated are not-employable due to disability, behaviors, blah blah blah. What we do is believe in people. Believe that they are capable of so much more and for some reason, it works! So often the idea of sub minimum wage is created by the agency and not the employer. We, as a society, need to move away from considering segregated environments as a part of a meaningful day. A meaningful day should look like what we expect our meaningful day to look like: to work with peers, to be a part of your community and to give back in any way you can.

  4. LesPaul says:

    15 Years ago I volunteered at location that has a sheltered work shop to form our Brain Injury support group and at first I was happy to have a place to volunteer but soon I began to notice that I and other were being treated like I was less of a person because of my disabilities. My eyes began to open more as I saw that people with disabilities were making cakes and deserts for high end restaurants and being paid almost nothing to do so.The term Sheltered work shop really should be referred to as a living Hell for people with disabilities because I have witnessed it with my own 2 eyes all the while I was working several hours a Day with no pay and watching my friends being taken advantage of and abused so I left the facility in shame at what they were doing in the name of people with disabilities!!!!! I was told I would never work again and yet I have been working for the right kind of disability agency and Independent Living Center leading 2 support groups and doing 3 separate National and International Radio shows despite all the people who tried to tell me I would not succeed which was the Sheltered work shops which should stand for prison system for Americans with disabilities!!!!!! Free our people from theses disgusting 1940s mentality horrible traps for Americans with disabilities and stop allowing anyone to pay far less than minimum wage for anyone!!!!!

  5. Cari Watrous says:

    I don’t think anyone is expecting people to jump into full time employment – living in the community may mean working part time in paid employment, spending time at the mall with friends, going to the local movie theater, volunteering at the library, building a full life. Exploring options is a good thing for everybody to be able to do, Yes, some people may truly be unemployable but if agencies did more job creation, more customized employment,more supported employment – I think most folks are good enough at something they are interested in to be paid to do it if the proper supports and services are in place the sky is the limit.

  6. Dadvocate says:

    The ease and comfort that ideologues like Harkin and his allies display as they restrict choice and inflict collateral damage (especially on the most severely disabled) is really troubling. It is not a question of whether some, or many, folks should have the opportunity to move out of sheltered and into competitive employment opportunities, with and without supports. If they want a change, people currently working in sheltered employment should absolutely have that opportunity. Young people should be able to avoid the system too. But that’s not the point. The core issue is the whether the government and it’s allies should be able to use force, enact mandate, or otherwise compel (name it what you will) some individuals to engage in activities against their will or the will of their legally appointed guardians. Substituting government for institutions as the decision makers in the lives of persons with disabilities isn’t progress. It is not accurate for the government to say you have choice, when the government will only approve choices they like.

    The true test of an inclusive policy is whether it accommodates folks who disagree with it, even if it’s a small minority. In this case, MANY don’t want to be forced from stable long term support structures into a huge world of uncertainty, based on a promise that the government will eventually get it right when it’s built (which it is certainly isn’t now). The historical record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

    Prepare for an uptick of awful on the nightly news and on Disability Scoop…but I guess that’s OK to some folks. The greater good and all that…

  7. Gar says:

    A comment to Suad’s comment: Concerning the people being employed at the sheltered workcenter, you mention “some have been working there for 20+ years” – is that a bad thing? Did they not want to be there? Don’t they have the freedom to NOT work there, and work somewhere else? Many people with the most severe disabilities work at “sheltered workcenters” because that is where they have the assistive technologies, job coaches, comraderie, and specially trained supervision that the competitive employers do not provide due to economics. You also mention they “earn as little as $1.00 an hour” – is that also a negative thing? We all would like to make lots of money, but the reality of a capitalistic society is that we can only expect to be paid based upon what we contribute/produce, unless there is some majic subsidy that will make up the difference. Thus, if a person’s disabilities restrict that person from being 100% productive in their job, then economics defines that either they are paid based upon their productivity (what they produce), or they lose their job because the employer cannot afford to pay the extra labor costs. Now, people that are in the 75-100% productivity range can certainly benefit from your services to find competitive employment because it’s very possible that reasonable, cost-effective accomodations can be made for those people which will allow their employment to be economically feasible for the employer (that is what the good “sheltered workcenters” already do). But as you drop below the 75% productivity mark, the accomodations become more extreme and costly, and thus it will be rare if that person can effectively survive in that job. But at the “sheltered workcenter”, they will likely have the 14(c) certificate which allows them to pay commensurate wages, which will make it economically feasible to employ that person. Closing/restricting sheltered workcenters and abolishing 14(c) will most hurt those people with the most severe disabilities – they will not be employable competitively and will end up in day-hab, or sitting at home, instead of working in a sheltered workcenter and contributing to a working society and the tax base. Although it sounds hard, that’s the reality of it.

  8. Whitney says:

    I am uncertain of this. There are good sheltered work places and there are bad ones. If a person who is disabled who can be work in competitive field regardless what it is. They should have that opportunity to do so. The problem is that the so called advocates are ignoring needs of one group over another. This is also the wrong approach it is pitted one group of disabilities against the another. In some cases sheltered work programs are looking cheap labor to offset the cost of doing business. If a non-disabled cost them whole a lot of money and if disabled can do it, like in the case of cakes by Suad. Then this is labor abuse.

    Productive argument does not fly if done to computer programs the level is not competitive by humans. We are not an industrial society but digital one so the economy reflects that. Capitalism argument is not an accurate one either because this society is oligioarchy where the powerful and the rich is centered on less than 1%, By the end of the day what kind of slavery you want. Like or not the arguments are bit outdated with the advent of computers and machines that will replace humans in manufactures sense. Don’t be so shocked. Human days of manufacturing are limited because the machine can produce a widget faster than a person. It is not about non-disable versus disabled in human production it will become who can operate the robot. Humans are becoming obsolete and not cost effective.

  9. Tim says:

    Amen, Gar! I work at a sheltered work shop and love what I do and the people we serve. We have always tried to find community employment for those who are wanting to explore and grow. To take the attitude that it is a one way or all or nothing approach is foolish. There is a purpose for both community employment and a sheltered workshop environment. When we go to extremes, somebody gets hurt.

  10. Nancy Hinkley says:

    In areas without public transit, the buses to the sheltered workshop may be the only option for any work. I want to see making positive changes in transportation options seen as essential to this shift as well.

  11. Barb says:

    There is no such thing as a one-size fits all solution. If this is intended to be that, there will be whole classes of folks that it won’t fit. As long as there is recognition of individual need and preferences, we’re great. But as soon as you tell every family that there family member needs to have a community job, you are simply handing over the screening to the voc rehab department in your state. An awful lot of states don’t fund community employment adequately to support a job for everyone who wants one. My state sure doesn’t.

  12. margaret says:

    This is what we all hope for when it comes to people with disabilities. However, being a medicaid service coordinator in the field it is a lot harder to get these services than it seems. There are so many loop holes families and people with disabilities need to go through today before even getting to this point and some never end up getting a job. Some people need job coaches to even get an interview. But to obtain a job coach you need to go through the state which could take months or even years to get these services in order to help them gain the skills they need to get a job. Even though this is something great and something any person would want for themselves or their family member with a disability, the fact is that many need assistance when getting a job due to their disability and getting the assistance these days is very very difficult.

  13. Theresa says:

    Let’s face it people with disabilities work for sub minimum wage so they don’t lose their Medicaid benefits. Typical government creating another problem to fix the problem they created in the first place. If Medicaid benefit eligibility wasn’t based on your income this wouldn’t be a problem.

  14. vmgillen says:

    @Gar: only after you consider that 99%+ of “intervention” or rehab, starting in early childhood, is based on compliance training we can truly engage in discussions about worker satisfaction and the freedom to move to another job. One other thing: job mobility, for workers with less training and vocational skills, generally involves being laid off, then looking for another placement.

  15. Michael says:

    I’ve already commented several times about the misperceptions, and flat out ignorance people have with understanding commensurate wage programs, and the fact that not every person with I/DD can work at or above minimum wage, with benefits, in an integrated employment setting. I have already advocated for the people with I/DD who for them, being able to lift their chin, or bring a fork to their mouth with two physical prompts, or to recognize their parent is an achievement. I have already posted that what this is really about is getting people off medicaid/medicare and onto employer funded insurance plans. And I have already tried to encourage that we define a person’s own success by starting with who they are and what they want and need, not by some metric of defining them as “work or non-work”.

    What I will post about today is this new vigor for employment transition placements. One of the great tragedies of this career field, which again involves metrics, is the transition years. Most school systems follow what is essentially mandated by regulation that people with I/DD start “transition” services at their 17, 18, or 19th b-day, depending on the system. Up until now, these transition services have mostly involved work skills, forced, uncompensated volunteer “work experiences” where they are giving free labor to prfit based employers, community skills, life skills, and self-care skills; all the things that the career field consider essential. What the majority of transition programs don’t do is continue to work on the core learning skills: reading, writing, math, money skills (other than spending in the community), time skills, computer skills, and comprehension. So where as much of cognitively intact 18 year olds are going off to college to do what- continue to work on their core learning skills, people with I/DD are expected to work on “Independent Living Skills”. This assumes the position that I/DD is a disability of developmental caps rather than a disability of developmental delay, and where there non-disabled peers get another chance to get their math skills down, the I/DD peer has to go learn to fold their laundry; and how many college aged kids are folding their laundry!

    The latest position is now transitioning with a job intact. From the micro perspective, this once again may sound like good advocacy, “let’s solve the employment problem by having them have their job intact before transition is through!” Once again, advocacy defined by metrics. I ask the respondents to this article, how many of you are working in the job you had when you left high school?

  16. Dani Feeirstein says:

    People with disabilities are the last ones hired and the first ones whose hours are cut back/. Does whoever thought this one up have any idea how impossible for someone with disabilities to get a job. Even in a good economy it is unbelievably difficult if not impossible.What a dumb ,stupid, idea

  17. Keeper of the Keys says:

    As a Communication Specialist/Job Coach who works with individuals transitioning from their academic centers (usually at age 21) to a work facility (competitive job/sheltered workshop/vocational workshop) this initiative has me seriously concerned. Theoretically and on-paper it “sounds good” but I wonder how in-depth it was really studied and evaluated.

    In the 35+ years that I have been doing this, I have seen some great facilities and I have seen some lousy ones, but most academic centers work hard at finding the right job fit for each individual that graduates from their facility. This transition period may start up to 2 years before the individual actually graduates, working at a variety of jobs to see what they like to do, their productivity level, their ability to socially interact with others at their job, problem solving, etc. Then, and only then are decisions made as to where to transition the young adult upon graduation. It is a team effort, with the individual and their families involved. At least this is what I have seen in NY and NJ.

    Are choices sometimes limited? Unfortunately yes. Are the jobs sometimes boring, and pay scales low? Sadly…yes. Pay scales are lower (such as the $1.00 amount listed in another post) for the individuals who have not mastered a certain productivity level. Those are the individuals in sheltered training centers. If a certain level of productivity can be consistently met over a time frame (daily or weekly), these are the individuals that transition into the Occupational Centers, where the pay scale is slightly higher. These are also the individuals who require less staff intervention and can work more independently at their job. Then we have individuals who are 80-100% independent, who require minimum intervention, and can make minimum wage, these are the students we find competitive employment for.

    What is very concerning is that ALL of our individuals have to watch how much money they make at whatever job they work at. The money they make can very often impede the funding services they are entitled to and what financial benefits they ultimately receive or lose. Several years ago, I became aware of a young lady who told me that she pays “rent” to live in her group home. Sure enough, when I followed up on it, she WAS required to pay “rent” because she had gotten a raise at work, which affected her take home pay, which ultimately affected the level of her benefits. It was either pay rent or move out of the group home into an apartment.She needed to stay in her group home so she could receive certain medical care for her disabilities. She could NOT afford those services on her own.

    Would I love to see all of our individuals making more money per hour? Absolutely! I just don’t want to see that done at the risk of someone not being transitioned into their job, and therefore set up for failure; or at the risk of losing any of their benefits because they are being given mandated pay scales which tips the balance for their funding benefits.

    If the government has done their due diligence, and the funding and the supports will be in place without being removed after a short time period, AND the increased pay scale does not affect benefit eligibility for housing, medicare, Medicaid etc., it might work out. I’m just really scared for our individuals.

  18. Margie says:

    Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail in this discussion. What most states will do is look at this as a way to eliminate center based employment which, for some, is the only work they can do. By eliminating these funds, people will be forced to sit home or go to adult daycare. They will get no skills training. That can’t be a better option, IMO.

  19. Whitney says:

    Like I said it can work if the commitment is there. Human nature is fickle thing and doing the right thing is not as clear cut. Developmental disabilities can be high functioning in the case of Aspergers and often they are lumped together with intellectual disabilities. For this to work it needs to be based upon tier system. Right now lumping together developmental disabilities in one board category is a problem. Like I said it created a conflict between high functioning verses low functioning.

    In my state regulation is needed for guidelines of behavior of the Shelter Work Programs. One these lovely employers threw intellectual disabilities to the corner of major intersections to sell junk. Well big surprise there were deaths because such action. Now the shelter work program is having problems yet again with feds. In fact they are currently litigation. So I do see the need for regulation.

    Job coaches need to know developmental disabilities do not mean intellectual disabilities. Intellectual Quotient does mean there is high Emotional Quotient. This is important distinction. The more social you are the easier for you to hire. It does not mean you are more skilled in the job.

  20. Vernon Montoya says:

    I know there has been problem with the Shelter Workshop, and how they pay the people who work in them.
    But as for me when I worked at them, they helped me, to get through my mental illness, and I would rather
    work at a S.W., for this reason. I 66 now and retired, some of my retired benefit came from working at a
    Shelter Workshop. If I could I do it again. The two main problem of S.W. are who run them, and SSI,
    if you correct them, I believe they would benefit the people who could use them, to be in the workforce.

    With Thanks.
    Vernon Montoya.

  21. Gregg T. says:

    Well intending as this legislation is, I expect that the fear of losing disability benefits to higher wages; the need to manage transportation; differences in residential care provider schedules; etc., will impact this far more than has been discussed.

    Too often, the sheltered employees whom we have assisted into community employment will return to the workshop. They return not because they did not have the appropriate support services. Rather, they lack the natural supports in the community and/or on the job. That is to say that, whereas they once had social relationships at the workshop, they may now be sitting alone in the grocery store break room.

    My only hope to changing the trend is that many Transition aged students and their families are leaving high school having already had paid work experiences in the community. That is to say that many of them graduate with the expectation of competitive work, so they do not have to attend sheltered programming.

    But for every family who supports the notion of working and becoming independent, the sad truth is that I see far more that discourage working because of the fear of losing medical and disability benefits.
    So what happens when the participants “choice” is to attend a workshop, instead?

  22. S. C. Hinton says:

    Hinton

    I think that this bill is good for only a select few. It’s good for the intellectually disabled (I.D.) individuals who are in the “Mild” and “Moderate” range and those without social mal-adaptive behaviors. The “Mild” and “Moderate” are the I.D. individuals who are selectively shown on the Special Olympic posters and in social Media advertising. The majority of the individuals this bill will effect are the unseen and non-glamorized individuals who have “Sever” and “Profound” I.D., who have debilitating Physical disabilities and those with behaviors, that are often uncontrolled and our society frankly does not want to experience in the work environment. This bill sounds like a blanket bill that will actually prevent the majority of individuals with I.D. from getting the work experience that they need and deserve as they exit the education system. How hard is it for “Intellectually Able” people exiting the education system, to get a federal minimum wage job? Now add on a I.D. and physical disability and jobs get pretty hard to find. When will our federal law makers get off their behinds, venture out of their sterile offices, and go meet the individuals with “Mild’ to “Profound” I.D. and see their challenges, see where they work and live? This is the only way our “elected officials” will get the true picture of this population of people and their daily lives and challenges. When will they stop making foolish, uneducated, blanket laws that create more challenges for the majority of these people who already have enough challenges?

  23. LesPaul says:

    What I am about to say about myself is I am a multiple brain injury survivor, and aneurysm survivor and as a person who was told he would never work again by several so-called professional agencies and organizations! I also have a big favor to ask of all of you who are making a comment on employment for people with disabilities!

    The ADA, which is the Americans with disability act, was born out of the civil rights movement and the struggles that people of color went through. People with disabilities have civil rights, rules, regulations, and laws that were created to protect us from discrimination, and promote equality, competitive employment, and for people with disabilities to live the American dream just like everyone else, not and more not less but equal!

    In independent living centers, employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and we are civil rights organization working to advance the independent living movement using our four core services.

    1. Information and referral
    2. Peer Support
    3. Advocacy
    4. Independent Living Skills

    I have now been working for a center for independent living of which there are well over 400 of all across the United States and its territories for close to 15 years.

    Centers for independent living have a federal mandate that states at least 51% of its employees have to have disabilities. In other words, majority rules!

    I have control of my own life, my own destiny, and make my own life choices and decisions as a person with a disability. Every step I took for over 17 years was a battle and the struggle and a hardship to return back to work, but I did so please do not limit people to being sheltered away or hidden away because I know many people to this very day or involved in sheltered workshops and I’ve heard very bad stories from all of them!

    I am a certified peer support specialist and advocate and I teach classes about the struggles and discrimination people with disabilities are still receiving for a badly all across the USA and around the world today!!!

    Martin Luther King had a dream of freedom and equality for people of color the independent living movement is born out of that dream as we fight for the rights of people with disabilities have community inclusion and empowerment everywhere in every way!

    Yes I do know that some people struggle just to get out of bed that was me on a daily basis, but I believe something is holding back America and that something is leading people with disabilities out of the equation instead of letting us be the solution. We are capable of so much and yet get so little respect!
    You may not like what I’ve said. You may even disagree with every word that I’ve said, but look up the Olmstead act Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone

    In 2009, the Civil Rights Division launched an aggressive effort to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., a ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. President Obama issued a proclamation launching the “Year of Community Living,” and has directed the Administration to redouble enforcement efforts. The Division has responded by working with state and local governments officials, disability rights groups and attorneys around the country, and with representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services, to fashion an effective, nationwide program to enforce the integration mandate of the Department’s regulation implementing title II of the ADA.

    Thank you for your time , and please go out to your center for independent living and learn as much as possible about the independent living movement, the national Council on independent living, and APRIL, the United Voice of Independent Living in Rural America!

  24. Susanne says:

    As with every other time they try to make a rule that fits everyone, this will penalize some. There are sheltered workshops that are very well run where employees like to come to work and are treated very well, and there are bad ones. Keep in mind if they earn “too much” the employees will reduce or loose their SSI payments. Not everyone is able to be competitively employed and forcing those who are not able will not make things better for them. This would require a LOT of funding because training and support costs of placing and supporting individuals would be very costly. And it seems with those with special needs, full funding rarely follows legislation

  25. Bridget says:

    If people were making minimum wage (or more)…they could use a part of their salary tohelp pay a job coach or to pay for a ride to work. This would lower their actual income and they could keep their medicaid and their ssi check might become a ssdi check

  26. Dana Olsen says:

    Congrats to anybody in Congress or out of politics who realizes that the time of sheltered workshops is over. No more subminimum wage, no more pretending around training and habilitation, no more denigrating people and cutting off their career options, no more offering training that leads nowhere, no more shameful wasting of public resources on segregation, no more pity and van rides and down time, no more hopelessness built into systems that have no idea on how to support people in everyday life, no more control taken away from people and their communities, It’s time to turn this page.

  27. Tina Spence says:

    PLEASE do not forget that the sheltered workshops not only provide a job but social skills. My concern is that our Vocational Rehabilitation is not providing students in schools the supports now, and what about the employers? Where are the jobs in the small rural communities? Who is going to make companies give these people a chance? And lets face it, most of this population like the sheltered workshops because they are treated as a person where usually in the job field, they are talked down to and employers and co-workers have little to no respect or high expectations for this population. This has some potential but I feel you are missing the reasons they are in the sheltered workshops, even if it is because they feel respected.

  28. PBMom says:

    I agree with Mark L. Olson below. It sounds like a good idea and I understand the sentiment behind it, but right now I am struggling to get my son high enough qualified in an 1 to 8 setting of a sheltered workshop because he cannot do a job on his own and the state of Texas only allows for a job coach for 5 weeks in the process of becoming independent on a job. My son cannot be independent on a job. He is an 18-year-old functioning pretty low in the 2-year-old range in some areas. He is nonverbal. His communication skills are almost nonexistent. Yet I really cannot put him in an adult dayhab situation where he will go insane because all they do all day long is crafts which he hates. I believe having a job of some sorts elevates anyone’s self-esteem. At the age of 22, he will move out of our home in a Home & Community Living Services group home in preparation for him for the day we die (and he can’t leave this state or he loses his benefits). They are required to have them out of the home for 6 hours minimum a day. So what do we do for people like my kid who would like to work as much as they can but require someone to be with them to perform that job all the time?

  29. Yup says:

    The government makes it hard for individuals with disabilities to work or pursue their dreams. There is always a fear of losing benefits. People with disabilities should be rewarded for their efforts instead of fearful.

  30. Mom in the throws says:

    Yes, there are many individuals who could be working and making a much better wage. I’ve been told they know SOME will fall thru the cracks. Some? I know MANY! Already this has gone in to place. The waiting lists are gone and those who truly do not have the ability to work in the community, as well as their families, are being punished…that is right, punished! Parents have had to quit jobs to stay home and take care of their extremely disabled child who has aged out of school and cannot work. Those children, now adults, do not understand why they can’t socialize and work with their friends.
    Oh yes, it seems like a great idea, and it really is for some. But what about the individuals and their families who will never be able to work a job in the community? They are sitting at home in front of the tv becoming depressed, right along side their parents who feel they have failed their child. They didn’t even have time to make alternate plans before this all came crashing down. Now there is no alternative!
    Just a few? Shame on you!

    No job, no workshop, no respite, no group homes…Really?

  31. James Bell says:

    I am hesitant to believe anything put out by Government. What is the real reason? To get folks off of the Medicaid. I have worked with people in this industry for fifteen years and it has always been a troubling fact that people we support seem to be devalued by society. It is shown in their wages at sheltered workshops, and is also conveyed through the type of wages staff are paid. People with Intellectual disabilities historically have been segregated in society or put into institutions. When we segregate people, oppression usually follows. It is a unique thing to consider, one’s future when the system and care providers are in control of your life. I know we need support workers and job coaches and all the other professionals that goes with being in the system. I think the real issue for folks is that they need someone to believe in them so they can get a real job for real pay. No matter how we do it people need to have a higher quality of life with less restrictions. I think this could be a good thing if it is handled properly. I do agree this could open a window that will allow people eventually to fall through the cracks. It really will come down to how good supports are. Wallgreens is a good example of a cooperation making equality in society a reality for all people. Check it out on the web.

  32. Catvocate says:

    Let’s segregate all of the Korean people and pay them less than minimum wage. Let’s segregate all the French people and pay them sub-minimum wage. Let’s segregate all of the Cuban people and pay them less than minimum wage. While we are at it let’s make sure that a very privileged few, who run segregated and sub-minimum wage shelters, get paid very high salaries.

    WHY DOES ALL OF THIS SOUND GOOD WHEN THE SENTENCE READS, LET’S SEGREGATE AND PAY SUBMINIMUM WAGE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES? I will never understand how stupid the American public is. They fear us, won’t hire us, want to segregate us and yes, feel free to pay us less. This is straight up financial abuse of a minority group. We don’t want your welfare check (social security) we want paid work, real work and work where we are respected enough to be paid for our efforts. If people can do these workshop tasks they can also do them at the company that contracts with a workshop can’t they?

  33. NancyL says:

    I have to say, I’m leaning towards agreeing with comments by Mark L. Olsen: I am a job developer for adults with ID/DD and we have clients with a wide variation of skills and abilities. There are many of the “lower functioning” clients who would be thrilled to make even a small wage for some very simple work. And this “very simple work” would likely be all they would ever be able to do, offering them a way to have a meaningful day. We have others who are volunteering in jobs where they should be paid, and where the jobs they do would be compensated if there was no volunteer available. Case-in-point: I have a client who has been a valued volunteer for about 9 years! (had some paid work during this time.) But the nursing/assisted living facility can’t seem to make a way to even work with him to transition him to some sort of PAID dining attendant or basic custodial position. He transports and escorts senior residents in wheelchairs to and from therapy appts in the building where he works and has given THOUSANDS of hours of work to this facility. He has also worked as a bagger at a grocery store in which he was paid. It is an INJUSTICE that so many hospitals, nursing/ALRs and other such operations (non-profit and for profit) will use volunteers for years or decades and never even consider how many of them who have worked for nothing deserve at least a chance to be trained and supported to work in an appropriate paid position.

    I would NEVER advocate that individuals or groups with disabilities work in a setting that demeans and undervalues their skills or would even come close to abusing them verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically. But if a sheltered workshop is operated with integrity by people that truly care and treat their workers with dignity and are not going to make an unreasonable profit that is not shared with their workers, I believe there is a place for “sheltered workshops.” And honestly, any sheltered workshops should only be “non-profit” and be closely monitored by the state. And more honestly, most employers who have to worry about their “bottom-line” are not going to create jobs for individuals with ID/DD (the government is about the only entity that does this.) And if they do hire them, the individual must be able to do the job (with or without support or accommodation.) Period.

  34. Cathy says:

    I have realized that this would be very good for clients in KS. Once they enter services, they do a “BASIS” that determines funding. When the BASIS is completed, if the person is doing better with skills/behaviors, the funding would be reduced, that funding the facility receives. In the best interest of funding, once a person gets a placement, the more negative results that the BASIS brings in, the more funding the agencies get for providing services. The BASIS is often filled out by caregivers or other staff so I have every reason to believe based on what I have been directly told that behaviors/skills assessment are not fairly done on behalf of the clients with special needs. I am debating this with the state at this time. It would not take that much effort to see if there were ways to keep these clients with special needs from being warehoused and unfairly evaluated in the name of the almighty dollar! These are people who need others to step in and make sure that they are not being exploited and I’m for anything that might facilitate that.

  35. Cindy Duch says:

    This legislation, in and of itself, will not be what gets individuals with disabilities competitive employment, but is the impetus to get society moving in that direction. It must start somewhere and the elimination of sheltered workshops will be the start of that movement. Will it be easy-no. Inclusive education is STILL not “easy”, 39 years later. To the positive, many students are now receiving the benefits of accessing the general education curriculum and the social opportunities of an inclusive education and presuming competence. Shouldn’t that opportunity continue into adulthood and employment. Low expectations will certainly be met, high expectations will lead to greater success!

  36. Vicki Hoskin says:

    I agree with Mark Olson. I teach students with intensive disabilities. Certainly there are some who can work in a community setting. What happens to those with extreme behaviors and those who are medically fragile? Their level of supports are significant. I want a few senators to work in my classroom for a week or so.

  37. Sue M says:

    Dear Mom in the throws,
    You are exactly right! I work for an agency that places individuals with disabilities into integrated setting, and although it’s politically incorrect to say not all individuals are employable, it’s accurate. What is happening, and has happened, is a title wave of referrals the majority of them severely disabled. These cases are so complex and the needs so significant that they create a bottle neck in the system and create long waiting list. In my area, we are down to two supported employment vendors; everyone else has either discontinued providing services or will no longer accept SE referrals. Expectations are unrealistic and supports are “time Limited”. I personally, was the job coach for an individual who is; blind, cognitively disabled, and deaf. My duties included, transportation, personal cares (toileting etc.) communicating through tactile sign, addressing behavioral issues, and assisting with every aspect of the job to ensure that it got done in a timely and accurate manner . Together, we were an asset to the employer. Those were the days when the individual was truly supported, funding wasn’t “time limited”, and there wasn’t the expectation that “natural supports” would take over. It is unrealistic to expect an employer to take on that role. If we want our consumers to be employed; we need to support both the individual and the employer. I’m sorry to hear of your frustrations with the system. Keep advocating.

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