A recent article in The New York Times detailed a US Department of Justice (DOJ) agreement with Rhode Island to reform the state's “overreliance” on segregated work settings that exclude integrated alternatives for competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. This settlement agreement was announced after a DOJ investigation determined that individuals with developmental disabilities who requested competitive work in the community had been ignored. The investigation highlighted the fact that 80 percent of people with developmental disabilities who were receiving state services, approximately 2,700 people, were placed in segregated sheltered workshops and facility-based programs and worked often for significantly less pay.
The settlement also provides a road map to compliance for the 49 other states, federal officials said.
According to the Times, the agreement will require Rhode Island to resolve its violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act over the next 10 years and includes:
- Help state residents with developmental disabilities obtain typical jobs in the community that pay at least minimum wage and offer the maximum number of hours consistent with the employee’s abilities and preferences;
- Provide support for nonwork activities in the mainstream, including community centers, libraries, and recreational and educational facilities;
- Prepare for high school age students with developmental disabilities for competitive jobs in the community through internships and mentoring programs, among other efforts;
- Redirect the “significant” public funds that are used to support segregated settings toward encouraging services in integrated settings.
Learn about Autism Speaks employment initiative and resources for young adults and adults with autism here.