Our world is going through so many changes so quickly that it sometimes seems impossible to keep pace. In the past five years, we have seen radical changes in our service system: WIOA’s sweeping attempts to focus on competitive, integrated employment for people with the most significant disabilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule on Home and Community-Based Services is premised on providing ‘opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive integrated settings, engage in community life, and control personal resources.’ The ABLE Act effectively raises the SSI asset limitation so that people with disabilities can save the money they earn instead of keeping wages and hours low for fear that they will lose their benefits if they earn too much.
But here’s the thing about APSE: our members know, and have known for 28 years, that there are real solutions, what those solutions are and how to put them in place to accomplish our mission.
- We know that employment—real employment for people with disabilities—should be to THE primary service option in any public system.
- We know that access to “real jobs with real wages” is essential if citizens with disabilities are to avoid lives of poverty, dependence, and isolation.
- We know that presuming competence is essential if we are serious about real work.
- We know that, as with all other individuals, employees with disabilities require assistance and support to ensure job success and should have access to those supports necessary to succeed in the workplace and that all citizens, regardless of disability, have the right to pursue the full range of available employment opportunities, and to earn a living wage in a job of their choosing, based on their talents, skills, and interests.
What we know about people with disabilities and their capacity for real work should be driving our public policy and supporting our society. Unfortunately, the system is outdated and was developed for a time when people with disabilities were never expected to do much of anything.
Now is the time for change. APSE is offering a two day program designed to help disability services providers transition to a supported employment business model with the goal of serving their clients in competitive, integrated jobs in their communities. This program, entitled “APSE Regional Institute: From Workshops to Workplaces–Achieving the Goal of EmploymentFirst” will address such topics as funding and supported employment, communicating change with clients and families, business strategic planning, staff development, legacy real estate planning, employer outreach and job development, informed choice and employment and wrap-around services.
Employment State Leadership Mentor Program (EFSLMP) subject matter experts will provide technical assistance with the inaugural APSE Regional Institute. If you wish to register, please click here and be part of the change that is upon us. Real employment is the answer to better economic outcomes, better health outcomes, better social outcomes; More importantly, real employment is the key to people with disabilities in building real, fulfilling lives. Change is hard but it is necessary.