General Assembly Approves $15.4 Million Increase For DD; Worker Raises Are Assured

By Gina Macris

a photo of the Rhode Island State HouseRhode Island’s developmental disability budget for the next fiscal year includes assurances that a total of $9.1 million in Medicaid money will be spent to raise pay for direct support workers and to begin transforming the state’s system of services for those with intellectual challenges.

Shortly after 1:30 am on Saturday, June 18, The Senate approved total developmental disability funding of $246.2 million beginning July 1 in concurrence with the House vote taken Wednesday. That total, almost all of it state and federal Medicaid funds, is nearly $15.4 million more than the General Assembly approved last year at this time for the current budget, which closes on June 30.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Developmental Disabilities News

Developmental Disability News Blog

Developmental Disability News is a RI website that covers the long-term impact of the 2014 Consent Decree between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the State of RI, as well as a related Interim Settlement Agreement between the DOJ and the City of Providence signed in 2013. 

a photo of journalist Gina MacrisGina Macris is a career journalist with 43 years’ experience as a reporter for the Providence Journal in Providence, RI. She retired in 2012. During her time at the newspaper, she wrote two series about her first-born son, Michael M. Smith. Both series won prizes from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association.

Ms. Macris is an excellent writer who has taken the initiative to develop this News articles to provide information on the status of implementation of the Consent Order in RI and other related interesting topics that people should know about. She has written a number of articles so check the website frequently to keep up to date!

Check out Ms. Macris’ Developmental Disability News Blog Updates at:

RI Monthly Magazine Features Story About People With Disabilities Working In Jobs In RI…”The Tyranny of Low Expectations”

RI monthly cover - October 2015The October Issue of RI Monthly has a featured article entitled “The Tyranny of Low Expectations” written by Associate Editor Casey Nilsson.

“For decades, local agencies segregated people with disabilities and kept them from pursuing real work in the community. The federal government stepped in and last year, the state agreed to make big changes. How far has RI come from the sweatshop scandals of 2013?”

Associate Editor Nilsson takes an in-depth description into civil rights investigations by the federal Department of Justice in RI at the Harold V. Birch School in Providence and at Training Thru Placement, Inc. and other agencies providing services to adults with developmental disabilities. The article looks into the life of web-savvy Nick Garcia, a young man at Birch, who had been segregated from the other mainstream high school students but is now more involved in transition planning and integrated activities.

DDC Council Member Steve Porcelli was visited in his job at Automated Business Solutions in Warwick and he is quoted as saying… “It’s important to like what you are doing, and I always wanted to do something other than piecework. If you’re disabled, you’re often not given the chance to prove yourself. We should have the chance. Even if we cant do it right away, well pick it up.” For over 30 years Steve worked at assembly work at TTP and really wanted to do so much more with his life.

Jeffrey Pete also used to work in a sheltered workshop but he works in a full time receivership position at the Capital Grille and has demonstrated he is an asset to the popular downtown restaurant. When asked about his relationship with his co-workers, Jeff proudly used one word to describe it: “RESPECT.”

A photo Jeffrey Pete“We don’t look at Jeff like he has a handicap. He gets the work done, and well.”

-Chris Phillips, General Manager, Capital Grille

The article mentions the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and how employers and coworkers see the positive contributions of individuals with disabilities. It also describes the changes being implemented in both the educational and adult systems in RI for people with disabilities to have “informed choice” about opportunities for working in jobs in the community, or even for self-employment, like Allyson Dupont, who owns her own graphic design and paper products business.

The Sherlock Center’s Employment Survey for 2015 indicates that the number of people working in sheltered workshops has decreased by 25% in the last two years. The number of people landing new jobs has significantly increased.

Sue Babin, of the Developmental Disabilities Council, says this momentum for change is similar to the deinstitutionalization movement of the 90’s to move hundreds of people with disabilities living in the state institution into the community in group homes. Back then sheltered work was considered a progressive alternative to Ladd Center. “All across the country, it’s been a tradition of folks with disabilities performing work at less than minimum wage and segregating them in workshops. Maybe we don’t need sheltered workshops at all. Maybe people need to just be out in the community like everyone else,” said Babin.

“Despite the earth-shattering shakeups of the past and the uncertainty of the future, one thing is true: Nick, his Birch peers and many more Rhode Islander’s with disabilities have the opportunity to work in jobs they actually like, no assembly required.”

-Casey Nilsson, Associate Editor

Pick up a copy of the October Issue of RI Monthly at local newsstands to read this whole article.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

NDI Poster: My disability is one part of who I am.

The National Disability Institute (NDI) is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month through its theme campaign “My disability is one part of who I am”. NDI advocates for advancing individual and systems level change to improve employment and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for all people across the spectrum of disability.


National Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Issues Interim Report to US Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez

WIOA Advisory CommitteeThe Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities was established under Section 609 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to advise the US Secretary of Labor in:

  1. Ways to increase competitive integrated employment (CIE) opportunities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) or other individuals with significant disabilities;
  2. The use of certificate program carried out under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the employment of individuals with I/DD or other individuals with significant disabilities; and
  3. Ways to improve oversight of the use of such certificates.

The work of the Committee began with its first meeting in January 2015, followed by full committee meetings in March, May, and July 2015. The work of the Committee includes formation of five subcommittees.

These committees are:

  1. Transition to Careers;
  2. Complexity and Needs in Delivering Competitive Integrated Employment;
  3. Marketplace Dynamics;
  4. Building State and Local Capacity; Section 14(c) Subminimum WageCertificate Program; and
  5. AbilityOne® Program.

The Committee brought together leaders from numerous federal agencies with a diverse group of critical stakeholders including individuals with I/DD and other significant disabilities, providers of employment services, representatives of national disability advocacy organizations, academic experts with expertise on employment and wage policy issues for individuals with I/DD or other significant disabilities, representatives of the employer community and others with expertise on increasing CIE opportunities for individuals with I/DD or other significant disabilities.

Integrated Employment Blueprint

The primary focus of the Committee and preliminary recommendations is:

  1. to increase opportunities for CIE;
  2. to ensure CIE is the first option for people with significant disabilities in order to increase the employment participation rate; and
  3. to significantly reduce the use of FLSA Section 14(c) and the dependence on subminimum wages and segregated service placements.