Realizing the Intent of the DD Act
How the DD Network Advances the Independence, Productivity, and Integration of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDDs), State Protection and Advocacy Systems, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities
- DD ACT
- DD ACT, Statute
- DD Act, Disabilities Law
The DD Network is focusing attention on full community integration of people with developmental disabilities, including employment and the over usage of sheltered and sub minimum wage facilities for hundreds of thousands of people with ID/DD. Through data collection sponsored by the UCEDD network, recent exposes by the national association of P&As (NDRN), and program development and policy advocacy by DD Councils, this remaining significant frontier of discrimination and segregation is being addressed. Integrated non-facility based employment of adults individuals with intellectual disabilities is at only 14.1 percent of working age adults.16 The network is poised to use its collective expertise, experience, and resources to develop viable alternatives to segregated and sheltered employment and bring people with developmental disabilities into full community participation.
A critical resource in the development of employment supports is the University of Massachusetts Institute on Community Integration (a UCEDD), which is a national source of research and technical assistance to states as they focus on employment. This effort was initiated by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities with a national data collection projected award to the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), the UCEDD based at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Children's Hospital of Boston. In 1997, ADD funded the ICI to create the National Report on Employment Services and Outcomes, annually documenting on a state by state basis changes in employment outcomes for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The development of the StateData website has served as an ongoing resource for administrators, policymakers, providers, families and consumer in measuring change over time as the movement to competitive, integrated employment has advanced.
In response to the low rate of workforce participation among people with ID/DD, a number of states have joined the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN), a collaborative project of the ICI and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS). DD Councils have been actively involved in supporting the efforts of the SELN in more than 20 states.
Increasingly, states are focusing on employment, adopting "employment first" policies with the intent of moving services away from congregate day programs towards employment options that create jobs, and income, for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in employment settings in which they are integrated with non-disabled employees. The efforts of the DD Network have helped states create new options for employment, and as of 2011, 17 DD Councils were actively managing projects to enhance integrated employment for individuals with ID/DD.
The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities offered a 'challenge grant' to the state of Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to increase the percentage of individuals with intellectual disabilities served in home and community-based programs who were employed to 25 percent over a 3-year period.
Impact of the Initiative:
- Set new rates to incentivize employment services.
- Increased the employment of service recipients from 7 percent to a high of almost 24 percent.
- Adopted an 'Employment First' policy that makes employment a priority.
- Developed job coach training that was adopted by the state DD agency.
- The DD Council, the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the state developmental disabilities agency became equal funding partners for the Employment Consortium.
- The Tennessee Employment Consortium (TEC) received national recognition in 2007 when the Institute for Community Inclusion named TEC an innovative practice in the employment of people with disabilities.
The Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) in partnership with AmeriCorps, Central Washington University, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Service Corps of Retired Executives, University of Washington Community Education Services, Yakima Legends Casino, and Yakima Valley Transition sponsored a self-employment initiative to assure that individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families have opportunities to save money to maintain or improve their basic economic and social status including employment, housing, and retirement. Activities under the Project include establishing collaborative community partnerships, providing resources to initiate self-employment, conducting training for the individual entrepreneur and their direct support professionals.
Impact of the Initiative:
- Forty people became self-employed.
- $333,312 was leveraged for employment supports.
- 482 individuals with ID/DD were exposed to entrepreneurial concepts and trained in self-employment.
The P&As have also played a significant role in increasing employment opportunities for individuals with ID. As an example, DisAbility Rights Washington (DRW) filed Boyle, a class action lawsuit and settlement covering nearly 10,000 people with developmental disabilities, beginning in 1999 and ending in 2012. Many problems with the quantity and quality of services authorized to assist people with disabilities attain and retain employment were discovered during the course of the investigation. DRW, along with co-counsel Columbia Legal Services, conducted an investigation into employment and day services provided through the Division of Developmental Disabilities' HCBS waivers. The investigation revealed problems with freedom of choice, adequate assessment of need, quality assurance, and procedural due process.
Impact of the Initiative:
- After negotiations, the state agreed to address these concerns and the court approved the parties' joint motion to modify the existing class action settlement order to allow for the parties to implement and monitor the changes to employment and day services.
- As a result, 10,000 people with disabilities benefited from four positive changes in policy, law, regulation, or practice as a result of the pursuit by DRW of one or more of the desired outcomes assigned to this goal/priority.
Another suit filed by the Maine Disability Rights Network (MDRN) initially focused on individuals waiting for day services. As the suit unfolded, MDRN started working with the state on efforts to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. MDRN was involved with drafting successful legislation encouraging individuals with disabilities graduating from high school or aging out of the special education system to use existing funds that were available for facility-based day services for employment purposes. This legislation is modeled on efforts established by other states.
Impact of the Initiative:
- Eventually, the state eliminated day habilitation service and applied for and was granted a Medicaid HCBS waiver that allowed funds to be used for employment services, which funds for day habilitation had specifically excluded.
These DD Network efforts have clearly shown that individuals with significant disabilities can become employed — and self-employed. These projects serve as a model for states and a beacon of encouragement to individuals with disabilities that they can participate in the workforce, earn real wages, and be productive members of society.
- Realizing the Intent of the DD Act (756.03 KB)