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APSE/CPSD Briefing on the Systemic Barriers to Self-Sufficiency
Washington, DC—On Thursday, the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), an advocacy network of 17 national disability organizations, along with the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE), hosted a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to inform policymakers of the importance of systems change, the Employment First framework, the ABLE Act, and the TEAM Act of 2013. The Congressional briefing, entitled Sustainable Investment: Toward Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities, followed recent investigations as to the financial solvency of federal entitlement programs. The briefing featured three panels to discuss the specific systemic barriers, recent legislation and proposed entitlement restructuring programs.
Long-time advocate and the co-founder of the CPSD, Madeleine Will, opened the briefing by sharing the history of the disability rights movement and how government programs ensure a cycle of government dependence. APSE’s Executive Director Laura Owens followed with an explanation of Employment First policies and practices. As Laura stated, “We need to stop feeding the dinosaur. Employment First is about setting priorities that redefine how our current resources are used and to build an infrastructure that supports integrated employment and at least minimum wage for citizens with disabilities.” Rob Cimera, Associate Professor from Kent State University accompanied Laura, providing an in depth economic analysis of the monetary benefits of supported employment.
The second panel featured Rich Leuking , President of TransCen, and Curtis Richards, Director of the Institute for Educational Leadership, to discuss the importance of the TEAM Act of 2013. Curtis Richards shared how the TEAM Act addresses the need to better coordinate government spending to promote self-sufficiency and incentivize employment. Curtis specifically explained the problem of low expectations and asset limitations. Rich Leuking also provided insight into the problems facing transition students and special education priorities. Finally, the third panel featured Sara Weir, NDSS VP of Advocacy and Affiliate Relation, and Michael Morris, the National Disability Institute’s Executive Director, as they wrapped up the discussion with a background on the ABLE Act and the asset limitations that pulls families apart and greatly limits independence.
Thanks to U.S. Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) for making this briefing possible.
Posted by Jenny Levet April 19, 2013 2:58pm | Comments (0)
Urge Your Senators to Support Tom Perez
Tom Perez has been nominated to lead the US Department of Labor. This is great news for people with disabilities. Mr. Perez is currently the head of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, where he is a champion on disability issues. In more than 1,600 cases, Tom has cleared the way for more Americans with disabilities to live independently, obtain a quality education, become successfully employed, and participate in activities most Americans take for granted.
ASPE is asking you to contact your US Senator today, and urge them to support the nomination of Tom Perez to become the next US Secretary of Labor. Please also urge your respective constituencies to advocate for the nomination of Tom Perez. The nomination hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, April 18th, so time is of the essence. Check out this link for additional information, and please share with others who support the rights of people with disabilities to be full participants in all aspects of our society, side-by-side with their fellow citizens: http://www.pwdforperez.org/.
Posted by Jenny Levet April 16, 2013 12:03pm | Comments (0)
Low Productivity: More of An Excuse than Obstacle to Real Work
March 27, 2013
By Dale DiLeo
Several issues reside in the heated discussions over the need to change the traditional day service model for people with disabilities. But the defining one relates to competing beliefs about productivity:
Can individuals with the most significant disabilities be productive in the workplace, such that sub-minimum wage is unnecessary?
Those in the individualized community employment sector, myself included, believe yes. We use a zero-exclusion model, reject sub-minimum wage (referred to as 14(c), its legislative shorthand), and no group employment. Looking at various US national databases, these efforts represent probably only about 15% of people with developmental disabilities receiving day services.
Those providers in the much larger majority, the traditional day service sector, utilize segregated work centers and sub-minimum wage, and often rely on group employment models such as enclaves or crews. Yet, the functional levels of those they serve do not appear different from those in individualized community employment.
It appears that the loudest argument against ending 14c sub-minimum wage has been that its removal will take away employment opportunities for those with the most severe challenges. For example, on this blog, commenters talk about how, without a workshop or sub-minimum wage, their son or daughter would be left with little to do. And professional lobbyists for agencies providing more traditional services make the same case. In a recent In These Times article, reporter Mike Elk noted that even leading congressional disability advocate Sen. Tom Harkin will not pursue ending sub-minimum wage, stating that he "has heard from a number of advocates for people with disabilities that eliminating the sub-minimum wage option without having a real plan to create sustainable employment alternatives would be detrimental to Americans with disabilities currently working in 14(c) settings."
In reality, there is a real plan that has been around for over 30 years. It's called supported employment. And eliminating 14(c) does not completely reflect what advocates have actually proposed, which is eventually eliminating it by phasing it out. The article then notes a key source of the position of retaining sub-minimum wage was Harkin’s former top disability staffer who now works as a lobbyist for ACCSES, a coalition of providers. He is quoted as saying:
“Would you hire somebody who is working at 30% and not meeting productivity goals?"
Examine these statements carefully. What does 30% productivity mean? Where did it come from? As demonstrated in a workshop? On what tasks? With what support? Is this rate set in stone? How reliable is this a predictor of job success in the community?
A number like that put on a person is damaging; it is just an arbitrary label like any other stereotype.
The assertion that removing sub-minimum wage will lead to job loss is not only unproven, but false. This is demonstrated by the many workers across the US with very challenging disabilities who are working at minimum wage or better, yet whose productivity ratings in traditional (segregated) work training settings were extremely low. It also sets up a false choice (i.e., low paid work or none at all). This kind of thinking is only true if you have a narrow (and I would argue obsolete) view of job placement, productivity, and what people are capable of.
Here is the missing piece: The best predictor of job success is not whether we can convince employers to let people work at lower standards for lower wages; it is how well we customize employment and provide job supports to meet productivity demands. It is inherently unfair to close perceived productivity gaps by reducing the wages of those who need money the most, especially when we have other proven tools to enhance productivity.
Essentially, human service agencies have relied on sub-minimum wage as an entry tool to access jobs (or keep people "busy" in workshops) in situations that are probably not well-matched nor sufficiently supported or accommodated to enhance good productivity. While it might be somewhat understandable, given the pressure on providers to met job goals, it is a poor solution to the chronic history of unemployment of those with disabilities. With better training and using existing job customization tools, sub-minimum wage is not necessary.
The continuing use of sub-minimum wage is actually hindering our ability to promote and provide well-matched employment. It has become an obstacle, first because of its misuse (the ongoing documentation of many instances of low wage exploitation alone should cause it to end). And secondly, because it has caused providers to rely on a "low cost" plea for job placement, rather than investing in the real task of developing the skills job developers need to produce a more productive job situation.
There are likely many, who after reading this, will still not agree, thinking such job matches and supports such as I describe are unrealistic for most. Note that such customized employment is indeed already being accomplished in many places. In a future blog, I will to try to explain more about how to individualize jobs such that productivity can be reached to justify commensurate wages.
Productivity, at first glance, seems to be just a matter of how fast you do what is given to you. But dig deeper, and you see that is more about how well the worker is matched and supported to accomplish something needing to be done. And the answer on succeeding in that, though challenging, is up to the provider's abilities at customizing, accommodating, carving, training, and more.
Lobbyists for day programs hanging on to sub-minimum wage as an answer for their belief about those "not capable of work" need to rethink the message they are giving. "He has 30% productivity" is no better than any other discriminatory disability stereotype, and it flies in the face of federal law where there is a presumption of employability. And it's a damn shame that Senator Harkin has accepted it as fact.
Posted by Jenny Levet April 2, 2013 12:56pm | Comments (0)
CPSD and APSE to Host Hill Briefing on Systemic Barriers to Employment, Savings and Economic Self-Sufficiency for Citizens with Disabilities
Sustainable Investment: Toward Economic Self-Sufficiency for Citizens with Disabilities
Public policy is at a crossroads. The central tenants of federal disability benefits have remained fundamentally unchanged since 1950. Publicly-financed programs have not kept pace with what we have learned about the potential of individuals with significant disabilities. The slow pace of modernization of public policy and federal programs has had major financial implications to the government, resulting in cyclical dependence, disincentives to employment and continued segregation for Americans with disabilities. Recent legislation and proposed federal entitlement restructuring programs to promote and incentivize employment and economic self-sufficiency policies for individuals with disabilities can make a significant contribution to the economy over the long-term.
Please join the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), an advocacy network of 17 national disability organizations, and the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) for a House Briefing on systemic barriers to employment, savings and economic self-sufficiency for citizens with disabilities.
Thursday, April 18th
10:00 to 11:30 a.m. ET
1310 Longworth House Office Building
Hear nationally-recognized leaders and experts in the federal government and the disability community discuss the importance of Systems Change, the Employment First framework, the ABLE Act and the TEAM Act of 2013.
To RSVP, please contact Allison Wohl (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination
Posted by Ryley Newport March 18, 2013 2:08pm | Comments (0)
Governors Promote Employment for People With Disabilities
March 8, 2013
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
Julie Williard, 25, is one of the top performers in her division filling orders from local stores at the Walgreens distribution center in Windsor, Connecticut. She is also deaf.
Utah has put in place an alternative application process for state workers called “ASAP” that lets qualified people with disabilities bypass the regular competitive hiring process. Instead, they get the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to do the job in a trial work period.
Posted by Ryley Newport March 8, 2013 2:42pm | Comments (0)
Employment For ONE, Employment For ALL
Pleased to announce, the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst hits the 25th year
People with disabilities will be employed in their communities, in careers they make clear
APSE, 3,000 members strong advocate, network and train to ensure equality and not just a label
What an accomplishment for this grass roots organization that started out at a kitchen table
People with disabilities, employed in meaningful careers and contributing community members
Those archaic services will soon be eliminated, part of the past and be nothing but embers
EmploymentFirst is THE option, the first and preferred and we will accept nothing less
We have come too far, accomplished too much there will be no regress!
Poem Submitted by Macey Chovaz, APSE Chapter Liaison
Posted by Jenny Levet February 15, 2013 2:41pm | Comments (0)
Workers with Disabilities Add Business Benefits
New Report Provides Path for Employers Looking to Leverage New Talent Opportunities
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Companies that employ people with disabilities reap numerous benefits. Active recruiting and retention of employees with disabilities, including veterans, can both significantly expand the pool of talent and create new business opportunities, according to a new publication from The Conference Board, Leveling the Playing Field: Attracting, Engaging and Advancing People with Disabilities. Among the poignant conclusions reported: Managers who have supervised an employee with a disability are overwhelmingly likely to recommend hiring workers with disabilities. Over ninety percent of consumers are more favorable toward companies that hire people with disabilities. And yet, 77 percent of companies still do not take advantage of existing tax breaks and other benefits available for hiring workers with disabilities.
The report was prepared by The Conference Board Research Working Group for Improving Employee Outcomes for People with Disabilities – a project funded in part by the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University ILR School under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, with additional funding from member companies of The Conference Board. The report, authored by Peter Linkow , looks at how employers are building competitive advantage through workplace practices that engage people with disabilities, including recent veterans and older workers.
"Leveling the Playing Field articulates that a strong workforce is an inclusive workforce and helps employers tactically address this issue," said Mary Wright , program director for the research working group and a contributing author to the report. "Efforts to effectively employ people with disabilities can be considered a metaphor for maximizing the potential of all employees and the performance of an entire organization."
Susanne Bruyere , director of Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute and contributing expert to the report, confirmed that "employers also report a number of indirect benefits that can result from hiring employees with disabilities, such as increased overall morale, productivity, safety, interactions with customers, and attendance."
Other key findings in the report:
Posted by Ryley Newport February 7, 2013 3:25pm | Comments (0)
Harper Refiles Disabilities Proposal
February 5th, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R–Miss.) reintroduced a legislative package today that aims to redesign federal programs for individuals living with intellectual disabilities as they transition from secondary school to the workforce.
The three bills, collectively referred to as the “Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility” (TEAM Act), aim to support youth with significant disabilities from adolescence to adulthood and refocus federal resources on improved outcomes in post-secondary education and integrated employment.
By promoting meaningful post-secondary educational and employment opportunities, this package intends for intellectually disabled citizens to gain full-time employment in an integrated setting at a livable wage. The plan also seeks to produce long-term career development and community inclusion through independent living and social engagement opportunities.
“In order for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their maximum potential, Congress must enact a systems change,” said Harper, a third-term lawmaker and longtime champion for the disabilities community. “The current federal disability laws are hopelessly outdated and will ultimately lead to unemployment and poverty for these children.”
The “TEAM-Education Act” ensures that schools are provided the necessary guidance and resources to proactively engage transition coordinators who assist America’s disabled children during their public education tenure.
The “TEAM-Empowerment Act” creates an adult transition planning process and system of supports for youth and their families under the supervision of state disabilities agencies.
The “TEAM-Employment Act” seeks to stimulate a national system-change initiative, which will establish that agencies coordinate services better to produce the desired outcomes of integrated living and employment.
“This legislation helps promote an efficient blending of resources and coordination of services among federal and state agencies,” added Harper. “As the father of a special needs child, I understand the need for these reforms and the urgency to act.”
Harper’s 23-year-old son, Livingston, lives with Fragile X Syndrome. This disorder is the most commonly inherited form of intellectual disabilities and the only known genetic cause of autism.
The Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD) has endorsed this legislation. This advocacy group is a network of eighteen national disability organizations committed to high-impact public policy reform to promote the economic advancement of citizens with significant disabilities.
Gregg Harper is a third-term Republican lawmaker from Mississippi.
Posted by Ryley Newport February 6, 2013 2:59pm | Comments (0)
US DOL's New Mobile Apps Make Your Job Search Easier
The U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop website now offers five mobile web applications you can use on your smartphone, tablet computer and other mobile device. These mobile apps can help you locate an American Job Center near you, search job listings and find local education and training programs.
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