CPSD statement on the US Commission on Civil Rights 14c report

CPSD Applauds the US Commission on Civil Rights Recommendations to End the Use of Subminimum Wages for People with Disabilities and Expand Opportunities for Competitive Integrated Employment

September 17, 2020

Today, the US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) released its report, Subminimum Wages: Impacts on the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities, calling for a phase out of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows people with disabilities to be paid subminimum wages in segregated settings where they are isolated from their non-disabled peers and the broader community. The Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD) commends the Commission for its recommendations to end the use of Section 14(c) while expanding capacity for competitive integrated employment — jobs in the community where people with disabilities work alongside, are paid the same wages and benefits, and have the same employment opportunities — as their co-workers without disabilities.

CPSD (www.thecpsd.org) is an advocacy coalition of organizations representing people with intellectual, developmental and other significant disabilities and their families, disability service agencies and individuals who have come together to bring about a significant modernization and alignment of the federal system of services and supports for persons with disabilities. Since its founding in 2007, CPSD has been working to reform the nation’s disability laws and programs to advance economic security, enhance community participation, and increase opportunities for people with disabilities so that they are able to lead self-determined lives.

CPSD has long advocated for the elimination of subminimum wages to people with disabilities under Section 14(c). Subminimum wages create and reinforce a life of poverty, segregation, and dependency on public support. Section 14(c) is based on outdated expectations about the capabilities of people with disabilities. It is inconsistent with modern federal disability laws — like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — that focus on inclusion, community participation, and competitive integrated employment (CIE) for people with disabilities. Most importantly, subminimum wages do not represent what the vast majority of people with disabilities and families want: opportunities for competitive integrated employment.

CPSD has also advocated that the phase out of 14(c) should be combined with building capacity in service systems that lead to CIE and economic advancement of people with disabilities. CPSD members have worked with state systems, educational settings and providers across the country that have been successful in helping people with disabilities – including people with significant support needs – obtain and retain CIE. We know the best practices and strategies to help people 2 with disabilities obtain CIE. Instead of focusing any more resources on sheltered workshops, CPSD strongly believes states should be focusing on expanding capacity of services that could make CIE a reality for all people with disabilities. That is why CPSD has played a leading role in developing and advocating for legislation like the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (S. 260/ H.R. 873) that phases out subminimum wages under Section 14(c) while providing resources to states and providers to expand capacity for providing CIE.

CPSD strongly supports the recommendations of the USCCR Report, including its recommendation to phase out 14(c) together with expanding capacity for CIE. The Commission’s recommendations are consistent with the 2016 report of the federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities created by Congress in WIOA and multiple reports from the National Council on Disability, the independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies that impact people with disabilities.

We thank the US Commission on Civil Rights for today’s report and call on Congress and federal agencies to implement the critical recommendations in the report. It is long past time to end those discriminatory practices that have kept disabled people trapped in poverty and segregated from their nondisabled peers and broader community.

Submitted on behalf of CPSD Member Organizations:

Association of People Supporting Employment First

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

Autism Society of America

Community Options, Inc.

Marc Gold & Associates

National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services

National Disability Institute

National Disability Rights Network

National Down Syndrome Congress

TASH

Williams Syndrome Association

It’s Time to Help States Build Capacity to Provide Competitive Employment for All People with Disabilities

By:  David Mank, Ph.D.**

I have spent the majority of my career researching and developing best practices related to helping people with the most significant disabilities get real jobs with real wages in the community. During my tenure, I have seen thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities become successfully employed and economically self-sufficient.  We know how to do this. Unfortunately, as a nation, I believe we have failed to invest sufficient resources to disseminate the information and to transform systems so that the majority of people with disabilities now successfully exiting high school and postsecondary programs can get well-paying jobs alongside their peers without disabilities. In spite of what we know works, far too many continue to languish in sheltered settings receiving way below subminimum wages, often being paid pennies on the dollar an hour. This is due to outdated federal law, section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which continues to allow providers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. Thirty years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act to prevent such discrimination, this unfair discrimination against people with disabilities must end.

That is why I was so pleased to see a bill introduced to responsibly phase-out the use of subminimum wages for people with disabilities. The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (H.R.873/S.260) is designed to build capacity and improve the disability employment service system and increase opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities. Key features of this bill include:

  • Creating a competitive state grant program (Transformation Grants) to assist states to develop competitive integrated employment and transition from 14(c) certificate (sub-minimum wages) to competitive integrated employment.
  • Creating a competitive grant program for current 14(c) certificate holders to transition their business models to support individuals with disabilities into competitive integrated employment.
  • Establishing a national technical assistance center to support states and providers across the country making this transformation.
  • Supporting the development of “wraparound” services, in addition to competitive integrated employment, to support an individual’s integration and community participation when they are not working.

It is important to consider these and other provisions of the bill in the context of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the resulting recommendations issued in 2016 by an advisory committee created by this law. The Advisory Committee for Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (the Committee) was created by Congress in WIOA and comprised of 25 members.  These members, appointed by the Secretary of Labor, included 18 citizen members and 7 federal officials. The members represented broadly diverse perspectives on employment of people with disabilities. 

The citizen members included self-advocates with disabilities, representatives of national advocacy organizations, providers of rehabilitation services, experts with a background in academia or research on employment, representatives from the employer community, providers of disability employment services (including both those who do and do not pay subminimum wages using 14(c) certificates), and others with expertise on increasing competitive integrated employment.

The federal officials included: the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, all of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Committee also included: the Commissioner of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Commissioner of Social Security, and the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services.

In reality, this Committee represented a very broad range of expertise, backgrounds, knowledge bases and personal and professional perspectives about employment of people with disabilities. The charge to the Committee was twofold: advise the Secretary and Congress on ways to increase competitive integrated employment, and advise on the use of 14(c), sub-minimum wage, and other such certificates. After a twenty-one month process of substantial discussion and more than a dozen public meetings, with significant public input and testimony, a final report with recommendations was sent to Congress and the Labor Secretary in September 2016 (a summary of the report is here). All of the recommendations of the report represented the consensus of the entire Committee. Each of the recommendations was adopted by consensus and without objection. Given the broad and diverse perspectives of the members, a report and recommendations by consensus of the entire Committee is a unique deliverable in the disability community.

The heart of the final report and recommendations of the Advisory Committee can be summarized in two words: Capacity Building. These two words and this concept represent the need to support states and local communities to deliver and support competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities, including people currently working at sub-minimum wages under 14(c) certificates. The Committee recommended the well-designed phase-out, over time, of the use of sub-minimum wages in conjunction with capacity building at the local level to deliver competitive integrated employment, one person at a time.

The Committee heard wide ranging testimony from experts, people with disabilities and families.  We heard about ways to achieve competitive integrated employment (including for people with the most significant disabilities), the work needed to develop competitive and integrated jobs, based on individual interests and abilities wherein sub-minimum wages are unnecessary, as well as the need for other services and supports to participate fully in community in addition to competitive employment. The Committee heard both success stories from people with disabilities and families, as well concerns about people with disabilities who are currently not achieving competitive integrated employment.

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act – a bi-partisan bill introduced this Congress – provides specific action steps for the nation on ways to increase competitive integrated employment and proposes ways to phase out the use of sub-minimum wage over time in a way that ensures a smooth transition.  It incorporates the critical recommendations of the Committee.

The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act addresses the strong desire and unmet need from people with significant disabilities for competitive integrated employment. Its focus is capacity building in communities across the nation. While the Transformation Act eliminates the use of sub-minimum wages over time, it is designed to do so responsibly and in conjunction with helping states and providers build their capacity to deliver competitive employment suited to each individual’s interest, capabilities and potential. 

Given our nation’s current low unemployment rate and high need for a reliable workforce, it does not make sense to allow individuals with disabilities to languish in subminimum wage settings. Putting an end to Section 14(c) would not only benefit those with disabilities, but the entire United States through an increased workforce, additional tax revenue, and boosted workplace diversity. This can be achieved in this Congress. 

By passing the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, Congress will be putting into law an effective and comprehensive way to empower those with disabilities while still maintaining federal safety nets that protect both the people gaining their economic independence, as well as the businesses that used to employ them. Federal oversight, combined with public and private grant programs, will ensure that people with disabilities make a successful transition into competitive integrated employment and, in turn, are given the same opportunities in life that we all want – being valued, learning new skills, being part of a diverse community, and becoming economically empowered. You can learn more about the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act here.  

David Mank, pictured above.

** About the Author: David Mank,  Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. He chaired the Advisory Committee for Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities established by Congress in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.  He is a board member of the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination

CPSD sent a letter to Secretary DeVos Sept 2018

CPSD, together with almost 40 other national disability organizations, sent a letter to Secretary DeVos opposing any efforts by the Department of Education to weaken or open existing regulations implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which focuses on competitive integrated employment of people with disabilities.

You can read the full letter here.

Transition Youth Congressional Briefing

(September 26, 2018)

“Successes of Youth with Disabilities Transitioning From School to Competitive Integrated Employment”

To celebrate the start of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The briefing was presented by CPSD and the National Council on Disability, in collaboration with Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)

Attendees learned about how states are helping youth with disabilities succeed as they transition from high school and enter the general workforce.  They heard from people with disabilities and their families about why competitive integrated employment is so important to them, including Van Berg and his father Jeffrey and Yasmine Faith Harrison and her mother Greta.

State speakers included Marissa Catalon, Deputy Director and Katie Howe Director of Program Integrity, from Delaware Division of Developmental Disability Services and B.J. Dernbach, Assistant Deputy Secretary Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Special guest: Dan Habib, nationally recognized filmmaker, shared a clip from his new INTELLIGENT LIVES project, highlighting the experiences of people with disabilities transitioning from school to work.

Briefing Handouts

Congressional Briefing Overview

Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Myths and Truths (CPSD)

Competitive Integrated Employment (Intelligent Lives)

“A Purpose in Life: Why Employment First Matters to Self-Advocates” (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered and Green Mountain Self Advocates)

Wisconsin Promise Congressional Briefing testimony

Wisconsin PROMISE Outcomes

Delaware Successes of Youth with Disabilities

Congressional Briefing Overview

Testimony of Jeffrey and Van Berg

Testimony of Greta Harrison

Testimony of Yasmine “Yassy” Harrison

Speaker Bios

Representatives Seth Moulton was first called to service when he joined the Marines in 2001, days after graduating from college and months before the attacks on 9/11. As the leader of an infantry platoon, he was among the first Americans to reach Baghdad in 2003. He served four tours in a war that he didn’t agree with – but he was proud to go, so no one had to go in his place.

After returning home from Iraq, Seth earned joint degrees in Business and Public Policy at graduate school, and then worked in the private sector in Texas to build the country’s first high speed rail line. But it wasn’t long before he was called to serve once again – this time in his home district in Massachusetts.

Seth ran – and won – on a platform of bringing a new generation of leadership to Washington, becoming the only Democrat to unseat an incumbent in a primary in 2014.

In the two terms since he was first sworn in, Seth has worked tirelessly to uphold his commitment to bipartisanship. He has passed several bipartisan bills, including the Faster Care for Veterans Act and the Modernizing Government Travel Act, and was named the most effective freshman Democrat by the Center for Effective Lawmaking. He has also concentrated on spurring economic development in Massachusetts, creating the first intergovernmental task force focused on growing the economy of Lynn, the biggest city in his district.

Today, as a member of the Budget Committee, Seth is focused on creating a new economic agenda that will make a difference for American families. He also sits on the House Armed Services Committee and is the top Democrat on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Seth lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Elizabeth.

 

Neil Romano is the Chairman on the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.  He has dedicated his career to the marketing of ideas and messages to help save lives and promote public policy.  Romano’s extensive professional background includes tenure as director of communications for the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy. In that role, he worked on notable public awareness campaigns including “Just Say No” and “America Responds to AIDS.” In 2007, Romano was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As head of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Romano advised the Secretary of Labor and worked with all DOL agencies to lead a comprehensive and coordinated national policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities in the United States. His work as a member of the Committee for Purchase from People Who are Blind or Severely Disabled, helped improve the quality of life for workers with disabilities. In 2010, Romano’s work as a member of that committee was recognized by the full committee with a special leadership award. As a producer/director, Romano’s film, “Youth Homicide: A Public Health Crisis,” earned a Best Director Emmy Nomination.

 

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS (an IDA nominee for Best Short), Intelligent Lives and many other films on disability issues. Habib’s films have been featured in dozens of film festivals, broadcast internationally, nominated for Emmy awards and translated into 17 languages for worldwide distribution. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. Habib gave a widely viewed TEDx talk, “Disabling Segregation,” received the Champion of Human and Civil Rights Award from the NEA, and the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Habib and his wife, Betsy, live in Concord, NH, with their sons Isaiah, 21, and Samuel, 18.

 

Yasmine “Yassy” Harrison is a junior at Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia.  She loves her school.  She is a member of the Student Council and takes art, yoga and drama lessons in her free time. Yassy has been fully included 100% of the time with typical peers since the age of two. She is now eighteen. Yassy has spoken to two incoming classes of teachers at William & Mary, and a Hampton City Schools session for parents, and administrators that included the superintendent. She has attended four sessions of VDOE’s nationally recognized ‘I’m Determined’ program at James Madison University, and several state and national conferences. She was the first person with a significant disability to intern with the City of Hampton this past summer under Virginia’s Pre-ETS program. She provided office support in the Human Resources Department. She starts her next internship increasing her skills at Hampton’s office of DARS (Department of Rehabilitative Services and Aging) September 28th working one afternoon a week. She will be supporting DARS staff and job coaches.  Yassy loves art and identifies as an artist.

 

Greta Harrison is the proud parent of two daughters (Yassy, 18, and Nia, 30, who heads planning/research/ and evaluation for Virginia’s Board for People with Disabilities.) Greta is also a local civic leader. She has chaired the Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, Hampton City Schools Special Education Advisory Committee and the Community Services Board Family Advisory Committee.  She led the work team that brought the first Virginia Project SEARCH site to Sentara in Hampton and continues on its Business Advisory Council. Greta is a 2008 WHRO CIVIC Leadership Graduate and founded First Book-Hampton Roads in 2008 with her mentor. It continued until his death, giving out over 50,000 books to children in need in eleven cities of Hampton Roads. Greta is involved in her church’s outreach program. She is part of the COACH program work team. And her “baby” at the moment is a new podcast titled “Pathfinders,” interviewing the parents behind successful youth with disabilities, which she is currently recording to be released early 2019. Greta loves football and may be the biggest Minnesota Vikings fan you ever meet.  She has been married for 38 years.

 

Marissa Catalon is has spent most of her career working in support of Delawareans with disabilities, With more than 25 years of professional experience in program design, implementation and operations. Prior to her appointment to Deputy Director for the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) this past March, Marissa served as the statewide Director of Day and Transition Services.  In this position, she established the Day Services Provider Advisory Committee which partners.  Community Employment and Day Service Providers with DDDS staff to identify service and systems inefficiencies and develop a coordinated response to improve operations and outcomes.  In 2015, Marissa engaged in the design and implementation of the Pathways to Employment program: a Medicaid Home and Community Based State Plan option supporting youth with disabilities to obtain employment in their communities.

Marissa also served as the Regional Day and Transition Program Administrator for New Castle County where she collaborated with the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to develop a collaboration framework that jointly supports youth and adults to pursue and achieve their individual goals.  In 2005, Marissa helped launch the Early Start to Supported Employment (ESSE) program, a nationally recognized and innovative transition program for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities exiting school services and entering the workforce.

 

Katie Howe found her passion for working with people with I/DD when she began her career as an Employment Specialist with Delaware Elwyn in 1998.  In 2001, she joined The Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) as a Family Support Specialist assisting individuals and their families to develop a vision and a path for their lives and services.  In 2012, Katie was promoted to Assistant Director of Day Services in the DDDS Day Services Unit.  In this role, Katie strengthened relationships with the Delaware Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Local Education Agencies, and the Day Service Provider community in efforts to provide a quality blend of services for each individual supported.  The lasting partnerships have enabled her to assist hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to transition successfully into employment and/or adult services that support their ability to achieve their personal employment or life goals. Additionally, Katie has assisted the Division in the development of policy and procedures for new services provided through the Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver and serves as the Division’s lead with the Pathways to Employment program.  She is also an active member of the Pathways to Employment Quality Committee and has been vital in ensuring services are delivered according to the person-centered plan. Katie also serves as the Division’s representative on the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council.

 

Jeffrey Berg currently works as a counselor in a Washington, D.C. mental health clinic that serves people who are experiencing homelessness.  Prior to joining So Others Might Eat, he served as Legal Counsel for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, U.S. Department of the Treasury for almost 20 years.  For much of the 1980s, he served as deputy director of the Alexandria, Virginia housing authority.  Prior to that, he was a social worker and administrator for several community-based programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.  Mr. Berg has a bachelors degree in social work, a masters degree in pubic administration, a law degree, and a masters degree in mental health counseling.

 

Van Berg works in the Patient Transport unit of the National Institute for Health, where he takes care of wheelchairs, collects and delivers specimens, and other jobs.  He really likes his job!  He has worked there for eight years.  He graduated from the Ivymount School in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

BJ Dernbach serves as the Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), where he oversees policy and communications for the department.  He previously served as DWD’s Legislative Liaison and later as Division Administrator for Worker’s Compensation and Operations.  Prior to DWD, he worked in the Wisconsin Legislature for nearly eight years as a policy advisor and Committee Clerk of the Assembly Labor Committee. He earned my Masters of Public Affairs from the UW-Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Government with a minor in Communication from Ripon College.

 

Statement Opposing Opening of the WIOA Regulations

PDF of CPSD, APSE, and NDRN Statement on WIOA regulations

 

Statement Regarding the Department of Education’s Notice to Revise the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Regulations
Jointly issued by CPSD, APSE, and NDRN.

May 17, 2018

The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD), the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) are dedicated to the full inclusion, independence and economic self-sufficiency of people with disabilities.  Competitive integrated employment – jobs at or above minimum wage alongside co-workers without disabilities – is critical to meeting all of these goals.

Our organizations strongly oppose any efforts by the Department of Education to weaken existing regulations implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, a bi-partisan statute that made clear that competitive integrated employment is a national priority for people with disabilities.  On May 9, 2018, the Secretary of Education notified the public of her intent to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the regulatory definitions in the WIOA implementing regulations, 34 CFR part 361.  Opening WIOA’s implementing regulations is unnecessary, and any concerns that the Department has can be addressed without opening the rule.

WIOA was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority and was the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system. WIOA expresses a clear policy in support of competitive integrated employment.  Among other provisions, WIOA defines an employment outcome as competitive integrated employment; prohibits the placement of students transitioning from school into segregated subminimum wage employment without first having the opportunity to try competitive integrated employment; requires people in segregated subminimum wage settings to be offered competitive integrated employment; mandates pre-employment transition services to prepare students with disabilities for competitive integrated employment; and requires that vocational rehabilitation services support competitive integrated employment outcomes.

As directed by Congress, the Department of Education issued regulations implementing WIOA in August 2016.  The WIOA regulations are very much aligned with both Congressional intent and long-standing Department of Education policy.  Nonetheless, when members of Congress and some stakeholders raised some concerns about the regulations, numerous disability groups with a range of views came together to work in good faith to craft a consensus solution.  Over twenty groups endorsed the position in the March 7, 2018 letter from the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities Employment Task Force, recommending that the Department make clarifying changes to its sub-regulatory guidance and not open up the regulations. These groups included, among others, APSE, CPSD, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR),[1] National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities (NASDDDS), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), The Arc of the United States, Goodwill, ACCSES, SourceAmerica, EasterSeals, Goodwill Industries International, and National Industries for the Blind (NIB).  We are very disappointed to learn that the Department did not adopt this solution, which was simple and outlined in detail the steps necessary to satisfy all parties.  The proposed solution would have addressed the confusion expressed by some in the field regarding the implementation of the current WIOA regulations.

Our organizations strongly oppose re-opening the regulations.  Moreover, the primary Congressional architects of the statute have been resolute in their belief that no changes to regulations should be considered until data on the regulations had been collected and analyzed.  We ask the Department of Education to re-consider its decision and instead implement the proposed consensus solution of the disability community. Congress has made clear that the goal of public should be competitive integrated employment. We believe that the current WIOA regulations are the means to achieving that goal for Americans with disabilities who access the Vocational Rehabilitation system.

The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) is a collaboration of national organizations representing people with disabilities and their families committed to educating Congress and federal agencies about what people with disabilities need to rise out of poverty and live more independently.  We advocate for major systemic reform of the nation’s disability laws and programs so people with disabilities can become employed, earn competitive wages, live independently in inclusive communities, and rise out of poverty.

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is the only national membership organization focused exclusively on integrated employment. Through advocacy and education, APSE advances employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities.

 The National Disability Rights Network is the national membership association for the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) and Client Assistance Program (CAP) agencies, the nationwide network of congressionally-mandated agencies that advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, and is affiliated with the Native American Consortium.  For nearly forty years, the P&A / CAP network has worked to protect the human and civil rights of individuals with disabilities of any age and in any setting, and a central focus of this work has been ensuring that people with disabilities are able to receive quality vocational rehabilitation services and obtain competitive, integrated employment opportunities within the community.  Collectively, the P&A / CAP agencies are the largest provider of legally-based advocacy services for persons with disabilities in the United States.

[1] CPSD and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) separately notified the Department that we endorsed the approach in the letter.

2018 First Quarter Newsletter

February 2018

Dear CPSD Members –

As we look back at our accomplishments over the last several months and forward to our plans for the upcoming year, we continue to find ways to promote CPSD’s mission and core values. This newsletter serves as a recap of CPSD’s major work, as well as news related to membership and upcoming events.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

Thursday, March 15, 1:00 PM – CPSD Board Meeting, 1825 K. St, Suite 600

 

CPSD ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD OFFICERS:

Congratulations to Heather Sachs, National Down Syndrome Congress, who has been tapped as CPSD’s Vice President, and to Curtis Richards, Institute for Educational Leadership, who will serve as CPSD’s Treasurer. Other officers will be announced shortly. Thanks to Heather and Curtis for serving the disability community in these important leadership roles!

 

2018 CPSD POLICY PRIORITIES  

Several CPSD members joined the CPSD board in November to craft CPSD policy priorities for 2018. Overwhelmingly, we stand by the commitment to advance competitive integrated employment (CIE) as an overarching goal. Details of how that will play out are outlined in the attached review.

 

As a reminder, CPSD works both with Congress and with administrative agencies to seek regulatory and legislative solutions that make CIE outcomes more likely. All CPSD members are invited to get involved by participating in planning meetings and in meetings with agencies and Hill offices. Please plan to participate in the Policy Workgroup Meetings the first and third Thursdays of each month, 1:00 PM. You should be receiving notices of each meeting – if not, contact Chris Rodriguez (crodriguez@ndi-inc.org) to make sure you are on the list.

 

CPSD POLICY UPDATES

CPSD has been extremely busy since our last update in August.  Below are some highlights of our major activities, by topic area:

 

Advocacy to protect the WIOA regulations and guidance defining competitive integrated employment:  There has been strong advocacy by the sheltered workshop providers association and AbilityOne/SourceAmerica to rescind guidance and open the WIOA regulations defining competitive integrated employment (CIE).  This has included lobbying the Department of Education (DOEd) to revisit the guidance and regulations as part of their “Regulatory Reform Process” to review and rescind all “unnecessary and burdensome” regulations in compliance with President Trump’s Regulatory Reform Executive order.  They also have been actively lobbying members of Congress to pressure DOEd to rescind the guidance and regulations.  In August, 45 members of the House sent a letter to DOEd urging them to rescind the CIE guidance and the regulations.  In response to this letter, CPSD has played a leading role in advocating in support of these regulations and guidance, including:

  • Coordinating a response letter sent to Secretary DeVos in support of the regulations and guidance and their alignment with the WIOA statute and Congressional intent, joined by numerous other national disability organizations (September 2017)
  • Met with DOEd leadership about our strong support for the regulations on two occasions (October 2017 and again in January 2018).
  • Met with over a dozen members of Congress to educate them about the WIOA regulations and guidance and the disability community’s strong support for them, (meetings also included APSE, CSAVR, National Federation of the Blind, and the National Council on Disability) (November and December 2017)
  • Pulling together a small working group to consider solutions to some of the concerns raised during DOEd meetings (January 2018)

 

Advocacy around implementation of the WIOA Advisory Committee Report:  CPSD has continued to prioritize implementation of the WIOA Advisory Committee Report.  CPSD has been leading the advocacy to push forward the recommendations in the report, including by:

  • Holding a Congressional briefing entitled “WIOA: Advisory Committee Recommendations and Opportunities for Legislative Action” on October 2, 2017, co-sponsored by Senator Casey (D-PA), Senator Hassan (D-NH), and Representative Harper (R-MS) and Representative Langevin (D-RI) of the Bi-partisan House Disability Caucus. This is the first Congressional briefing that has been held on the Report.  More than 100 individuals attended the briefing, including staff from more than 35 Congressional offices.
  • Meeting with leadership from the Department of Labor (ODEP, Wage and Hour Division and Employment and Training Administration) to discuss our priorities for implementation of the WIOA Advisory Committee Report and hear updates on DOL’s progress (September 2017). We agreed to try to meet quarterly and are working on scheduling a next meeting to discuss implementation of the Report, as well as implementation of Section 511.   

 

Advocacy around Olmstead Enforcement in States’ Employment Systems:  On December 21, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew its guidance, “Statement on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and local Governments’ Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities.”  Rescission of the guidance was a result of lobbying by the sheltered workshop provider association as part of DOJ’s Regulatory Reform process.  CPSD has led advocacy to respond to this rescission by:

  • Developing and releasing a statement immediately condemning the rescission of the guidance (jointly with CCD Rights Task Force) (December 26, 2017)
  • Drafting and coordinating a letter to DOJ from the disability community expressing our concerns about the rescission of the guidance (jointly with CCD Rights Task Force), with over 225 national and state disability organizations joining (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Participating in a meeting with leadership from DOJ’s Civil Rights Division about priorities of the disability community and concerns about the rescission of the Olmstead employment guidance (Jan. 9, 2018)

 

Other:

  • We have requested a meeting with the Department of Education (OSERS, OSEP and RSA) to discuss implementation of WIOA, particularly Section 511.
  • CPSD Policy Workgroup engaged in a half-day strategic planning and priority setting meeting on November 14, 2017. The decisions from this meeting have been driving the Policy Workgroup’s activities.

 

Update on CPSD Products Related to WIOA Implementation

Through a contract with IEL, one of CPSD’s original members, CPSD has been working on two projects that should provide valuable assistance for those concerned with WIOA implementation. David Mank, Professor Emeritus and Chair of the WIOA Advisory Committee, conducted interviews with key informants in order to learn more about the experiences of young people in transition, the extent to which service delivery has been impacted by Section 511, and what stakeholders identify as actions that could be taken to prevent and/or ameliorate transition strategies and/or outcomes inconsistent with CIE. This project culminated in a white paper with recommendations to be used by training and technical assistance providers, self-advocacy organizations, and parent organizations to help them proactively prevent identified pitfalls in the implementation of Section 511 as well a webinar to announce the project, which was attended by more than 100 stakeholders.

CPSD also developed a summary of the groundbreaking report developed by the Advisory Committee Report on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) commissioned by Congress in the Workforce Investment Opportunities Act 2014 (WIOA). This summary report was developed for use primarily by vocational rehabilitation counselors, transition teachers and other direct service workers, people with disabilities, and their family members).  A version of this report was used for the WIOA Advisory Committee Congressional briefing.  Alison Barkoff is the lead author of this report.

Both reports will be publicly released later this year.

 

 

 CPSD 2018 First Quarter Newsletter, Feb. 3

Statement on Work Requirements

PDF of Statement

 

 

February 8, 2018

STATEMENT ON WORK REQUIREMENTS

The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) and the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) are organizations dedicated to the employment of people with disabilities. With needed supports and services, primarily provided through Medicaid, people with disabilities have shown they can successfully work in jobs alongside their peers without disabilities.

Our organizations are committed to advancing policies that have been shown to help people work. This includes increasing access to supported employment services funded through Medicaid, providing job training, increasing opportunities for apprenticeship and work-based learning experiences in higher education, and addressing transportation barriers.

Leadership in Congress and this Administration have said they are committed to expanding opportunities for employment of all Americans. Yet, instead of investing in expanding programs that help people work, the Administration and Congressional leaders have been focusing on “work requirement” policies. In January 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance authorizing states to impose work requirements on Medicaid participants and, over the last several weeks, has approved requests from two states (Kentucky and Indiana) to include work requirements in their Medicaid programs.

Work requirements are not about providing supports to help people get a job or about addressing barriers to employment. In fact, the CMS guidance letter specifically states that Medicaid funds cannot be used to provide assistance to participants in meeting the work requirements through job training, employment services, or childcare. And CMS denied Indiana’s request to use Medicaid funding to help participants meet their work requirement by providing them skills assessment, training and assistance with searching for a job.

Instead, Medicaid work requirements are a thinly-veiled attempt to reduce the number of people on Medicaid. Work requirements mean that people who are eligible for and rely on Medicaid will lose access to healthcare if they can’t meet the requirements. Threatening the loss of healthcare has not been shown to be effective in increasing employment. In fact, people who have access to healthcare and are healthy are more likely to be able to work. Further, the vast majority of people on Medicaid are already working or are caregivers, including of people with disabilities. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 60 percent of Medicaid participants are already working; 12 percent are not working due to caregiving; and an additional 14 percent are not working due to illness or disability.

People with disabilities and their families will be harmed by work requirements. While CMS claims that these policies will only apply to “able-bodied” individuals, only people who qualify for Medicaid because they qualify Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are currently counted as “disabled.” Millions of other people with disabilities who qualify for Medicaid through other pathways will be subject to work requirements without access to the very Medicaid supports that enable other participants to find and sustain jobs. Further, many caretakers of people with disabilities will forced to choose between accessing healthcare or taking care of their loved ones.

CPSD and APSE oppose Medicaid work requirements as an unconscionable attempt to decrease the number of otherwise eligible people relying on Medicaid for healthcare and other supports. We call on policymakers and the Administration to show a commitment to employment by instead expanding access to the job training and employment supports and services that have been shown to help people get and retain jobs. We also encourage Congress and the Administration to expand opportunities for employment of people with disabilities and address their barriers to employment, including by implementing recommendations from the recent report to Congress and the Labor Secretary from the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.

The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination is a collaboration of national organizations representing people with disabilities and their families committed to educating Congress and federal agencies about what people with disabilities need to rise out of poverty and live more independently. We advocate for major systemic reform of the nation’s disability laws and programs so people with disabilities can become employed, earn competitive wages, live independently in inclusive communities, and rise out of poverty.

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is the only national membership organization focused exclusively on integrated employment. Through advocacy and education, APSE advances employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities.

#####

CPSD Submits Comments to the Social Security Administration on Strategies to Improve Adult outcomes for youths receiving SSI

On Feb 2, 2018 CPSD submitted comments to the Social Security Administration on strategies to improve adult outcomes for youths receiving SSI.

To read the response, click here.

CPSD and CCD Letter to Department of Justice Opposing Withdrawal of Several Key Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidance and Technical Assistance Documents

Jan. 8, 2018

Hon. John Gore
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Acting Assistant Attorney General Gore:

The undersigned members and allies of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) write to express concern about the Justice Department’s recent withdrawal of a number of guidance and technical assistance documents concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). CCD is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. CPSD is a collaboration of national organizations representing people with disabilities and their family members advocating for major systemic reform of the nation’s disability laws and programs so people with disabilities can become employed, earn competitive wages, live independently in inclusive communities, and rise out of poverty.

On December 21, 2017, the Department rescinded its “Statement on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and local Governments’ Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities,” as well as nine other ADA technical assistance documents. The Statement, which was issued in 2016, described the obligations of states to administer their employment services for people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate. Evidence-based supported employment services help people with disabilities secure and maintain competitive, integrated employment. They are critical to achieving the ADA’s goals of independent living and economic self-sufficiency. The Statement reflected already established law in an area that is a top priority for the disability community – employment of people with disabilities.

We are extremely concerned about the withdrawal of this guidance document. While as the Department notes, the withdrawal “does not change the legal responsibilities of State and local governments under title II of the ADA, as reflected in the ADA, its implementing regulations, and other binding legal requirements and judicial precedent, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision,” we are concerned that it sends the wrong signal to public entities and employment service providers about what is necessary to comply with the ADA’s integration mandate with respect to employment services. Indeed, some groups have incorrectly described the withdrawal as eliminating the applicability of the integration mandate to employment services. We are also concerned about whether the withdrawal of this guidance reflects a diminished concern by the Justice Department with ensuring that public entities provide employment services that allow people with disabilities to work in competitive integrated employment.

The vast majority of people with disabilities and their families want opportunities for competitive integrated employment. Most employment service providers are working to change their business models away from sheltered work and other segregated settings to competitive integrated employment, and almost all states have embraced an “employment first” approach reflecting that shift. The Department’s guidance was consistent with the priority the disability community has placed on enforcement of their civil right to work alongside and with the same conditions as their peers without disabilities. We urge the Department to continue its commitment to expanding competitive integrated employment opportunities for all people with disabilities as a critical way to fulfill the ADA’s goals of integration, independence, and economic self-sufficiency.

We are also concerned about the process by which the Department announced that it was withdrawing nine other technical assistance documents relating to the ADA. We were troubled to see so many documents suddenly withdrawn and removed from the Department’s website, with little explanation of the reasons for doing so. Guidance documents are important tools to educate all stakeholders about the requirements of the law in a clear fashion, and the withdrawal of these guidance documents in this manner has created confusion and misunderstanding.

Government transparency is critically important. If the Department plans to rescind, modify or replace any guidance or technical assistance documents in the future, we request that you ensure transparency and opportunities for public input in the process. For example, we believe the Department should provide advanced public notice before withdrawing or modifying such guidance documents, and an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input. If the Department is withdrawing a guidance document because it is out of date, it should explain the specific ways in which the document is outdated, and if it has been superseded by later guidance documents, the Department should explain that and provide a link to those later documents. In addition, the Department should create an online archive of guidance documents that have been withdrawn or modified, so that the public can access those documents and understand what changes have been made and why.

Thank you for consideration of this very important matter. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns further. You can contact Jennifer Mathis, CCD Rights Task Force Co-chair (jenniferm@bazelon.org) or Alison Barkoff, CPSD Policy Advisor (abarkoff@cpr-us.org) with any questions or to follow up on our letter.

Sincerely,
Access Living (Illinois)
Achievement Services
ADAPT Montana
ADAPT of Texas
Advocacy Center of Louisiana
The Advocacy Institute
The Advocrat Group
AIDS United
Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
American Civil Liberties Union
American Council for the Blind
American Dance Therapy Association
American Foundation for the Blind
American Music Therapy Association
American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
American Psychological Association
A Philip Randolph Institute
The Arc of Indiana
The Arc of Mississippi
The Arc of Nebraska
The Arc of the United States
The Arc of Washington
The Arc Wisconsin
Arizona Center for Disability Law
Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Atlas Techknowledgy (Virginia)
Autism Society of America
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Big Tent Coalition of Kansas
Boston Center for Independent Living
California Down Syndromes Advocacy Coalition
California Foundation for Independent Living Centers
California State Council on Developmental Disabilities
Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities
Center for Living and Working (Worcester, MA)
Center for Public Representation
Center for Reproductive Rights
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Clark County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board
Colorado Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Community Access
Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (Delaware)
Community Vision
Connecticut Legal Rights Project
Council of Administrators of Special Education
Council for Learning Disabilities
The Daniel Initiative
Daybreak4Deaf, Inc.
Dayle McIntosh Center
DC Metro ADAPT
Disability Action for America
Disability Law Center of Alaska
Disability Law Center, Massachusetts P&A
Disability Law Center of Utah
disAbility Law Center of Virginia
Disability Law Colorado
disABILITY LINK (Georgia)
Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts
Disability Power and Pride
Disability Rights Arkansas
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights Center of Kansas
Disability Rights Center—New Hampshire
Disability Rights Connecticut
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Disability Rights Florida
Disability Rights Idaho
Disability Rights Iowa
Disability Rights Legal Center
Disability Rights Maine
Disability Rights Maryland
Disability Rights Mississippi
Disability Rights Montana
Disability Rights Nebraska
Disability Rights New Jersey
Disability Rights New Mexico
Disability Rights New York
Disability Rights North Carolina
Disability Rights Ohio
Disability Rights Pennsylvania
Disability Rights South Dakota
Disability Rights Tennessee
Disability Rights Texas
Disability Rights Vermont, Inc.
Disability Rights Washington
Disability Rights of West Virginia
Disability Rights Wisconsin
Disabled Queers in Action
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area
Employment Law Group, PLLC (Parkersburg, WV)
Epilepsy Foundation
Equality California
Equip for Equality
FORGE, Inc.
Freedom Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. (North Dakota).
Georgia ADAPT
Georgia Advocacy Office
Gould Farm
Government Information Watch
Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (Washington)
Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education (Alaska)
Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities
Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities (HEARD)
IndependenceFirst Milwaukee Wisconsin
Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley
Indiana APSE
Indiana Disability Rights
Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities
Interhab (Kansas)
Institute for Educational Leadership
Jewish Federations of North America
Jo Anne Simon, P.C. (Brooklyn, NY)
Job Squad, Inc.
Justice in Aging
KanCare Advocates Network
Kansas ADAPT
Kansas Advocates for Better Care
Kansas APSE
Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities
The Kansas Developmental Disabilities Coalition
Kansas Developmental Disability Policy Consortium
Kentucky Protection & Advocacy Division
Lakeshore Foundation
Law Office of Ellen Saideman (Barrington, RI)
Law Office of Lainey Feingold (Berkeley, CA)
Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Lisa P. Golan, Attorney at Law (Norcross, GA)
Living Independence Network Corp. (Idaho)
Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council
Lutheran Services in America—Disability Network
Maine APSE
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council
Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
Mental Health America
Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid/Minnesota Disability Law Center
Minnesota APSE
Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council
Mississippi APSE
Missouri APSE
Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council
Montana Council on Developmental Disabilities
NAACP
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of Nurses with Disabilities
National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Association of State Head Injury Administrators
National Center for Environmental Health Strategies, Inc.
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities
National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Institute
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Federation of the Blind
National Health Law Program
National Housing Law Project
The National Leadership Consortium
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Rehabilitation Association
Native American Disability Law Center
Nebraska Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities
Nebraska Statewide Independent Living Council
NELA-GA
Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
New York Association on Independent Living
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities
North Dakota State Council on Developmental Disabilities
Not Dead Yet
Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council
Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies
People First of Georgia
Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas
PolicyLink
Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (South Carolina)
Protection & Advocacy Project (North Dakota)
Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
REV UP Texas
Rhode Island Disability Law Center
School Social Work Association of America
Silicon Valley Independent Living Center
Statewide Independent Living Council of Alaska
Smart Policy Works
Southern Poverty Law Center
Stavros Center for Independent Living
Syntiro
TASH
Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
Texas Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center
Transformative Justice Coalition
Treatment Communities of America
Union for Reform Judaism
United Spinal Association
URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity
University Center for Developmental Disabilities, Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and
Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Utah Developmental Disabilities Council
Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council
Virgin Islands Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc.
Virginia APSE
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council
Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities
Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers
Women Who Never Give Up, Inc.
Woodsmall Law Group, P.C.

Statement of Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force and Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination on Withdrawal of Justice Department Guidance on the ADA’s Integration Mandate and Employment Services

On December 21, the U.S. Department of Justice rescinded its Statement on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and local Governments’ Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities.  The statement, which was issued last year, described the obligations of states to administer their employment services for people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate.  Evidence-based supported employment services help people with disabilities secure and maintain competitive, integrated employment.  They are critical to achieving the ADA’s goals of independent living and economic self-sufficiency.

We are extremely concerned about the withdrawal of this guidance document, both because it sends the wrong signal to public entities that are seeking to comply with the ADA and because it may reflect a diminished concern with the importance of providing employment services in the most integrated setting.  As the Justice Department notes, withdrawal of this guidance “does not change the legal responsibilities of State and local governments under title II of the ADA, as reflected in the ADA, its implementing regulations, and other binding legal requirements and judicial precedent, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.”  The Statement reflected already established law, and its withdrawal does nothing to change that law, existing settlement agreements, or prior Justice Department findings letters about the application of the ADA’s integration mandate and Olmstead to employment systems.

The vast majority of people with disabilities and their families want opportunities for competitive integrated employment.  Most employment service providers, in response to best practices, federal law, and DOJ Guidance, are working to change their business models away from sheltered work to competitive integrated employment, and almost all states have embraced an “employment first” approach reflecting that shift.  The Department’s guidance was consistent with the priority the disability community has placed on enforcement of their civil rights to work alongside and with the same conditions as their peers without disabilities.

We are committed to expanding opportunities for all people with disabilities to have opportunities to work alongside their non-disabled peers for competitive wages and fulfill the ADA’s goals of integration, independence and economic self-sufficiency.  We urge the Justice Department to remain committed to these goals as well.

We are also concerned about the process by which the Department announced that it is withdrawing nine other technical assistance documents on the same day.  While some of these documents were outdated, government transparency is critically important.  We were concerned to see so many documents suddenly withdrawn with little explanation of the reasons for doing so.  Guidance documents are important tools to educate all stakeholders about the requirements of the law in a clear fashion, and the withdrawal of some of these guidance documents may create confusion and misunderstanding.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is  the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.  Contact for the CCD Rights Task Force is Jennifer Mathis, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, jenniferm@bazelon.org.  

The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD) is a collaboration of national organizations representing people with disabilities and their families committed to educating Congress and federal agencies about what people with disabilities need to rise out of poverty and live more independently.  We advocate for major systemic reform of the nation’s disability laws and programs so people with disabilities can become employed, earn competitive wages, live independently in inclusive communities, and rise out of poverty.  Contact for CPSD is Alison Barkoff, Center for Public Representation, abarkoff@cpr-us.org.  



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