Every American, regardless of disability status, has a right to participate in the workforce. Inherent in that right is freedom of where to work and an expectation of proper supports. Determination of what constitutes a competitive integrated employment setting must be made on a case-by-case basis rather than blanket interpretations of statutory intent. The WVADE has developed this set of principles and characteristics for citizens of West Virginia.
- The West Virginia Association for Disability Employment has as a core principle and belief that all individuals with disabilities are employable when opportunity and support are available.
- There are four stakeholders that must be brought together by community rehabilitation programs –
- The job seeker with a disability
- The supportive agency
- The funding agency
- The potential employer
- All employment decisions must be person-driven
Background and Environmental Considerations
- The HCBS Regulatory Review of West Virginia IDD Waiver Medicaid says “there is no specification as to what the State does and does not consider an integrated community work setting.” A specification has been submitted but awaits approval.
- West Virginia has characteristics that make it unique:
- Small towns
- Poor roads
- Highest percentage of work-age adults with disabilities in U.S.
- Fourth highest median age in the US at 41.9
- Second poorest state with 18.3% below the poverty line; and a median income of $41,059
- Highest percentage of working age people on disability benefits at 17.6%, compared to the national average of 10.4%
- Rural state with low population density
- Collapsing economy:
- Rapid losses in energy jobs results in limited job availability
- Lowest level of workforce participation in US at 49.1%
- High unemployment rate
- Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP), with decades of experience, knowledge of their local populace, and led by local Boards, are best suited to address their community’s needs and resources and develop job opportunities for people with disabilities.
- There is a lack of agreement among various federal and state agencies about statutory definitions of disability, integration, supported employment, and other terminology.
- High unemployment means high competition for jobs, resulting in a need for the traditional employers of people with disabilities, CRPs, to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
- There is a lack of public transportation, especially in rural communities.
- Medicaid IDD waiver has a large waiting list of over 1,200 individuals, which exceeds 25% of the current number of waiver members; with individuals languishing for years without services.
- West Virginians are hard workers who take pride in their accomplishments.
- Many of West Virginia’s largest employers (coal and manufacturing) do not meet the test of community facility access currently used nationally.
Characteristics of Competitive Integrated Employment Settings
- All employees are treated equally.
- There is no set ratio of people with disabilities to non-disabled workers except where required by statute.
- Hiring decisions are made without regard to disability status.
- People with disabilities are valued as an important part of the workforce.
- Work setting is viewed by local community as an employer and not a social service provider.
- Opportunities for advancement are available to all.
- Employer has competitors providing similar goods or services, not workshop activities.
- All employees have access to the same amenities.
- Compensation is fair and equitable for all and subject to regular review.
- Dress code is the same for all.
- Abilities are translated into marketable skills.
- All employees receive similar mentoring and training, as determined by job description.
- Union membership is not denied based on the presence of a job coach or support staff.
- Same level of interaction with the public for disabled & non-disabled workers in similar job descriptions.
Board approved 08SEP16