Friday, April 8, 2011

The Washington State House Proposal Intends To Reform The State’s Existing, Nationally Recognized Supported Employment Program

The Community Employment Alliance opposes the House proposal for reducing the Supported Employment Program for people with developmental disabilities.

The House proposal intends to “reform” the State’s existing, nationally recognized Supported Employment Program by reducing funding by 44%, and implementing an antiquated program, “Alternatives to Employment”. We believe the House proposal presumes savings through this policy and budget shift that are erroneous, and based upon unconfirmed assumptions. The following points describe the inaccuracies in the House proposal:

- Alternatives to Employment (Day Programs) will cost money to create as they do not currently exist in Washington State. Alternatives to Employment programs will require large facilities, increased overhead and maintenance for running day-time institutions. The proposed savings are based upon the assumption that services can begin immediately for 1,800 new clients not currently in service. Programs and infrastructure to deliver these services will take months, if not years to develop. The financial investment and ramp-up time to create new programs are not being considered. The administrative costs to DSHS / DDD to implement this change are also not being considered.

- The House proposal assumes between 25% and 35% of individuals served in employment will want the new Alternatives to Employment program. We believe this is an erroneous assumption, and not based upon any survey or gathering of accurate client data. Developmental disabilities self-advocates, parents, and advocacy groups all testified against this proposal at the Ways & Means Committee hearing on April 4th.

-No stakeholder group is publicly advocating for this proposal. Stakeholders are advocating for the least restrictive, most progressive and efficient program — community employment.

- The House proposal assumes individuals will leave long-term care services (Adult Day Health ADH) for the surported less costly Alternative to Employment program. It gives individuals a choice to ADH services when entry to these services has been legislatively restricted to those needing certain medical treatments and therapies.

- Day programs are not integrated in the community. They are grouped services that isolate and segregate people with disabilities. The equivalent of Alternatives to Employment (Day Programs) is returning people back into institutions. This proposal will create ‘mini-institutionalized settings’ in our State.

- Employment is an investment that off sets costs for the long-term. Congregate care has no return on investment. The Division of Developmental Disabilities’ data refutes the claim that Alternatives to Employment will cost the State less money. The only savings may be in the very short-term. Savings are highly unlikely if the costs of developing and administering a new program are considered. Long-term, the data proves supported employment costs less.

- Special education does not prepare students for congregate care. Special education prepares students for work. Therefore, the State’s investment in special education is wasted if the opportunity for employment is lost.

- Increased interaction, self-determination, dignity, respect, learning and socialization occur in employment and not within congregate care settings. People are ‘equal’ members of society when they have a job. This does not happen if we isolate people with disabilities within congregate settings.

- Community Access is individualized and provides the opportunity for the individual to be a member of their community. This service is available now, should be offered based on the individual’s choice, and could be expanded and supported within the existing menu of services.

Supported Employment promotes independence. By working, people with developmental disabilities earn a wage. They become tax payers. This off sets the State’s investment in support services. Jobs are the ultimate equalizer for
all Washington State citizens. We must remain the “employment first” leadership State.

posted by AtWork! at


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