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Tuesday, 22 April, 2014

Department of Justice Calls on States to Provide More Employment and Transition Services for People with Disabilities

Following a year-long investigation of Rhode Island’s sheltered workshop programs, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this month that it had come to an agreement with the “Ocean State” to overhaul the state’s sheltered workshops and day programs for people with developmental disabilities.

As terms of the settlement, Rhode Island will begin offering supported employment placements that must pay at least minimum wage, provide educational and volunteer activities for people with disabilities not working currently, and arrange for students 14 years of age and older to intern, visit job sites and access mentoring services.

With nearly 450,000 people with developmental disabilities working in sheltered workshops and other segregated programs, many of whom are earning less than minimum wage – an average of $2.21/hourly in Rhode Island alone – DOJ is encouraging other states to follow Rhode Island’s lead and shift focus to more viable employment options for workers with disabilities.

National Disability Institute (NDI), as the nation’s first non-profit exclusively dedicated to building a better economic future for all people with disabilities, has joined its colleagues in the disability community to call for competitive, integrated employment and insist on fair and competitive wages for workers with disabilities , a key issue to providing a pathway to a more stable financial future for the nearly 1 in 3 people with disabilities who live in poverty.

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