Subcommittee reports and recommendations strike the right balance in promoting competitive integrated employment for Americans with disabilities
The Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE) applauds the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) for making concrete recommendations on limiting the use of subminimum wages, better oversight of the 14(c) programs, and the use of limited federal funding for programs that actually increase competitive, integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.
The Committee is mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of to, among other things, produce an interim report by September 15, 2015 that makes recommendations in three areas:
- Ways to increase the employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities or other individuals with significant disabilities in competitive integrated employment;
- The use of the certificate program carried out under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 for the employment of individuals with intellectual and developmental or other significant disabilities; and
- Ways to improve oversight of the use of such certificates.
Subcommittee reports have been made public and will be presented during the next Committee meeting, on July 13th and 14th. Click here to review the meeting agenda and read the reports.
In particular, APSE is pleased to see strong recommendations regarding federal agency collaboration with respect to guidance and funding. Specifically, we strongly support the recommendations that ask federal agencies to:
- Collaborate to issue guidance to states on how to use, braid and/or blend their respective funds to support best practices and/or evidence-based models that result in competitive, integrated employment
- Make federal support and incentives available to help people move from segregated day programs (such as sheltered workshops, day habilitation and day treatment) to competitive integrated employment, using model programs such as Medicaid Infrastructure Grants, Money Follows the Person or Balancing Incentive Programs to help build capacity to transition people from segregated day programs to competitive integrated employment or to provide for enhanced federal financial participation (FFP) to encourage expanding competitive integrated employment. Additionally, tying efforts to specific, measurable outcomes in the reduction of the number of people in segregated day programs and increases in competitive integrated employment outcomes is critical in measuring the success of the initiative.
We appreciate that the Committee took into consideration the important role that the Department of Education plays in managing employment expectations and creating transition opportunities for youth with disabilities. In particular APSE supports the following recommendations that:
- IDEA Indicator 13 must disallow a placement in a subminimum wage [14(c)] program as an acceptable post-school transition goal or service on the transition plan
- Any reauthorization of IDEA must disallow, as an authorized transition service, any facility-based employment or service provided by a 14(c) license holder
- Issuance of School-based Work Experience Program (SWEP) certificates be discontinued immediately.
APSE also supports the committee’s series of recommendations on service provider capacity building on competitive integrated employment in terms of national and state standards, leadership development, staff development, and technical assistance as well as the removal of inherent provider conflicts of interest.
Recommendations for using real outcome data that would be widely disseminated will help people with disabilities, their families and other stakeholders can make informed decisions about employment; where work may be available; and which agencies are most effective in supporting people to obtain competitive integrated employment.
As stated in its public testimony to the ACICIEID this past January, APSE has clearly and emphatically stated its position on sub-minimum wage and segregated employment and the need to phase it out. APSE applauds the Committee’s recommendation for a well-planned phase out of the 14(c) program, which aligns with APSE’s 2009 position statement. Continued reliance on the 14c program is in clear violation of the ADA, Olmstead and of civil rights statutes that apply to other Americans. It is an outdated program rooted in low expectations that that people with disabilities are not capable workers; this policy is discriminatory and exploitative. APSE would also be supportive of policy actions that ensure proper monitoring of use of sub-minimum wage, and that the rights of individuals with disabilities are fully respected.