June 27, 2014

Sheltered Workshop Eligibility May Soon Be Limited
Article by Disability Scoop

Federal lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to require most students with disabilities to try competitive employment before they could be employed by sheltered workshops.  The U.S. Senate voted 95 to 3 on Wednesday to approve a sweeping jobs bill known as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Tucked within the measure are significant changes for students with disabilities transitioning to adulthood.  

Chiefly, the bill would prohibit individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger from working in jobs paying less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour unless they first try vocational rehabilitation services, among other requirements. There are exceptions, however, for those already working for what’s known as subminimum wage and in cases where individuals are deemed ineligible for vocational rehabilitation. 

Beyond limiting who can work for less than minimum wage, the legislation also mandates that state vocational rehabilitation agencies work with schools to provide “pre-employment transition services” to all students with disabilities. What’s more, the agencies must dedicate at least 15 percent of their federal funding to help those with disabilities transition from school to work under the measure.

Practically, lawmakers said the changes will mean that those in special education will be able to access internships and other opportunities to try out different work environments.  “It will help prepare a new generation of young people with disabilities to prepare for, to obtain and succeed in competitive, integrated employment, not substandard, subminimum wage, dead-end jobs, but jobs in which people with disabilities can learn and grow to their maximum potential,” U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said of the bill.

“Basically, we’re going to give persons with disabilities the same supports and experiences that everyone else expects and receives which they haven’t had in the past,” Harkin said.

The legislation is the product of years of negotiating. Last month, members of Congress announced they’d reached a bipartisan, bicameral deal to finally move the measure forward.  The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the workforce bill soon and the White House has signaled its strong support. 

FREE Online Education Opportunities:  
Abuse of People with Disabilities: A Silent Epidemic 

The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice & Disability sponsored the Abuse of People with Disabilities webinar featuring a self-advocacy PSA by Kecia Weller and Molly Kennedy on June 26 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST. These powerful self-advocates explained what abuse is, the different forms abuse can take, and tell victims how to report abuse.

Kecia and Molly explained the word “intimidation” and how to  help victims understand that abuse is always unacceptable.   This series is free and all webinars are recorded and archived for viewing later.

Next up:  Suspects/Offenders’ Issue Series: Disability Awareness Training; A Train the Trainer Program for First Responders

July 31, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EST

David V. Whalen, MS in ED, NU FR DAT Project Director
Chief John Askey, Amherst (NY) Police Department
Captain Patrick Mann, Buffalo (NY) Police Department

Everyone needs disability awareness training; this is not unique to first responders. However, a presence at situations that call for a response to challenging behaviors, alleged criminal conduct, physical and medical needs, assistance in a matter, or service and protection are imperative to the well-being and quality of life for the individual(s) first responders come in contact with. Individuals with disabilities may require response that would vary from everyday encounters. If you are not educated on this topic, results can be catastrophic.

Mr. Whalen, Chief Askey, and Captain Mann will introduce the main elements in training law enforcement, best ways to deliver training, challenges every police department has, and how Disability Awareness Training should be incorporated. They will also discuss the rold of law enforcement and how it may call for a different approach when interacting with an individual with a disability and how training plays a key role in ensuring proper response.

The Arc of the Midlands awarded grants for NCCJD’s “Pathways to Justice” Training Program and FASD Prevention

The Arc of the Midlands has been selected as a Chapter Champion for Justice by The Arc of the United States. The Midlands was selected as one of five chapter sites throughout the country to support implementation of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice & Disability “Pathways to Justice” program.   The Midlands will provide training on disability issues to law enforcement, victim advocates and legal professionals in South Carolina and create “Disability  Response Teams” who will obtain a certificate of training from NCCJD.  
The Arc of the Midlands was also recently awarded a grant from The Arc of the U.S. to work with the South Carolina Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Collaborative  on state wide prevention efforts to reduce the incidence and disability caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.
If you are interested in either one of these emphasis areas and would like to learn more about or volunteer on these projects, please contact Melinda@ArcMidlands.org

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