Clarification regarding wages

As EHB 1706 goes through the legislative process, we are discovering more and more the various data that is used and how pieces are missing, assumptions are made and reported as facts, and other issues misinterpreted.

 Data The Arc of King County uses is from a taken from a different date cycle than what is reported through the DDA Caseload and Cost Report.  ( which we used to obtain our information).  It is also unclear if The Arc of King County has read or addressed the two recent reports from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC). The Review and Analysis of Employment and Community Inclusion Measurement  provides some excellent analysis of the tools used in addition to what needs to be measured and the report below provides information on the people and their jobs.

Legislative Auditor Report on DDA Employment

Depending on if one removes the number of DDA clients using the Community Inclusion services ( 1513 on July 2018) from their data, they could report that that 60% or 75% of those in DDA employment services were “making minimum wage or better”  The BIG problem with this information is that The Arc of King County does not use any data that addresses the wage people are making – this information is totally made up.

DDA does address this in their report and that information is provided here.

DDA caseload and cost report

Representative Noel Frame, prime sponsor of HB  1706 who credits autistic activist Shaun Bickley with introducing her to this issue is unaware of this data from DDA also.  Rep. Frame reports that in 2018 there were only 350 Special Certificates granted by L&I, 60-80 of which are not used any longer due to Entrust in Yakima closing their pre-vocational program.  Rep. Frame could be correct in that number of certificates but that means that all those DDA clients working for less than minimum wage or no wage they may be victims of wage theft.  This opens up a whole new hornets nest that is caused by activists who may only know or understand part of the whole.

There needs to be open discussions and dialogue with hard questions asked and answered before moving forward on this misguided legislation

“Facts” from The Arc of King County

The Arc of King County published Some facts about the subminimum wage bill on their advocacy blog today  – we say – check their “facts”

The Developmental Disabilities Case load and Cost report has data that is very different than what the Arc of King County reports – take for instance the number of people in supported integrated employment who work and make minimum wage.

DDA reports  8102 people are in the supported integrated employment services program, 3678 (45%) make at least minimum wage, 2294 (28%) make less than minimum wage and 2130 (27%) do not make a wage.

The Arc of King County reports – “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

DDA reports that 45% of those in supported integrated employment make minimum wage or better.

The Arc of King County reports “Most people served by individual supported employment (the other 92 percent getting DDA employment services) already make minimum wage or better.”

A national trend?  We don’t think so.  Of great importance is that there has not been evaluations done for quality of life, meaningful life or job satisfaction/employment rates since some of these states have made changes.  As policy makers, one would think that evaluations are important before making decisions.

The Arc of King County reports Vermont closed its sheltered workshops in the 1990s and abolished subminimum wage certificates for people with disabilities. New Hampshire, Maryland and Alaska all passed legislation to abolish subminimum wages for people with disabilities

Review Magical Thinking for some research and insights from New Hampshire and Maine on the issues of eliminating subminimum wage.

From Alaska :  While the Employment First movement has picked up in recent years, it does pose new challenges in how providers should tailor job-training services for each person.

One approach has been to give workers a job coach, who goes to work with them during their first month on the job and helps them learn the ropes.
(from 2018 – no evaluation of the outcome of their legislation yet )

These are just a few of the facts that have been checked – there are more.

Please ask The Arc of King County, Representative Noel Frame, Activist Shaun Bickley or any of those organizations on the list of organizations which support this bill,  about these discrepancies.

Ask them about the numbers of hours that employees work a week, ask them who pays for the job coaches and supports that will be ongoing for many of the employees to keep their jobs.  There are too many unanswered questions or concerns that have not been addressed for this bill to advance without causing more harm than good.

Eliminating subminimum wage – HB 1706

EHB 1706 passed the House yesterday in a vote of 81-17.  We have many concerns regarding this bill and now after one of our contributors received a response from Representative Noel Frame regarding the number of people who had special certificates, we are more concerned about the lack of information she and other legislators may have regarding the Special Certificates, sub-minimum wage, supported integrated employment and people with disabilities in general.

 

Representative Noel Frame

Below is the conversation from Noel Frame’s Facebook site. Clearly Representative Frame does not understand that there are over 4000 people in the DDA integrated supported employment program that are employed and make less than minimum wage.

It appears that Representative Noel Frame thought the only people earning less than minimum wage were those in sheltered workshops (which are no longer in Washington State anyhow) and totally missed that there are many in our integrated community sites that do not earn minimum wage or maybe do not earn any wage.

Felak and Frame Facebook posts from Noel Frame site

 

DDA caseload and cost report

Cheryl Felak also wrote:

While I understand that you, Noel Frame, were introduced to this issue by your constituent, Shaun Bickley, who is a very hard worker and activist, Bickley is misinformed on some of the information – partly because he blocks people who have a difference of opinion or ask questions for clarification – He blocked me over a year ago so any comments he may post, I will not be able to see.

It appears to not only me but many other advocates that Bickley has a vendetta against parents and allies who do not 100% agree with his position. Given that the MAJORITY of people in DDA continue to live with their families and depend on their families for housing, transportation and other activities of daily living, it is critical that we also listen to families, caregivers and other natural supports in this discussion. Without these people involved who do their best to ensure their family member with IID is integrated in the community people who want to make policies and laws regarding support are missing a huge part by ignoring these very critical partners.  They are a huge part of the discussion. Ridiculing them and stating they are speaking out of fear is a bias that is uncalled for.

As an aside to this – the issue of many, many people with IID being dumped in hospitals for months, chemically and physically restrained because their group homes have refused to care for them any longer is reality for many families now. Families tried to speak up about this in the past but were ridiculed. Families know the reality and they need to be listened to and be a real part of the conversation too.

It will be interesting to see what type of response we receive.  It would would have been best to have been part of the discussion from the beginning rather than mopping up a mess.

HB 1706 Striker and Amendments

We received information this morning that there will be a striker for HB 1706 proposed on the House Floor this morning.  In addition to the striker there are two amendments to be discussed.

HB 1706 – H AMD 323
By Representative Kilduff

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 063

1706 AMH YOUN TANG 060

This striker does not violate the ADA by excluding people with disabilities from being able to work under a special certificate.  Rather than eliminating this option it will still be available and there appears to be better oversight written into the law.

Adding an objective review through utilizing JLARC is important.  The recent JLARC report on Employment and Community Inclusion – Services for People with Developmental Disabilities was very informative and gave excellent guidance to the department on how to improve services.

UPDATE:  It appears HB 1706 Striker was adopted and the amendments were withdrawn.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

 

 

Is this “Community Inclusion?”

Seven months of trauma/crisis care and the crisis continues.

Kevin on a rid

Kevin is 26 years old and autistic.  He had been living in a supported living group home for 4 years after living at Fircrest for several years.  He started to have some behaviour issues develop in August 2018.  His psychiatrist attempted to adjust his medications but there were no positive results.  It was discovered that Kevin had elevated ammonia levels due to medication and this is what instigated the behaviour changes.

These behavior changes caused Kevin to assault his caregivers and a housemate.  The police were called, Kevin was handcuffed and taken to the hospital ER several times in the first 3 months of these changes. In November 2018, Kevin was hospitalized for 5 days due to self-injurious behaviors.  He then returned to his group home.

Two month later, on January 7, 2019, Kevin became anxious, hit a caregiver and a housemate – police were called and again Kevin was handcuffed and taken to the Secure Emergency Care Unit (SECU) .  Kevin was in a room with 4 other patients in the SECU – a unit that is critically important for the healthcare of our community but not the place to hospitalize an anxious person with autism. Kevin was very, very upset, cried and wanted to go home.  The group home stated that he was not allowed to return.

Kevin’s family took him to their family home but within 2 days Kevin became more and more upset because he wanted to go to HIS HOME.  His parents were unable to calm Kevin down and they were forced to call 911 for assistance.  Kevin again went back to the SECU for a night before he was transferred to a medical unit where he stayed from January 10, 2019 through February 20, 2019 when Kevin’s family was so devastated by the trauma he was experienced by being restrained chemically and physically in the hospital they attempted to take him home.

The home visit started out well but within a couple of days, Kevin became more and more anxious, wanting to go back to HIS HOME.

“The owners of the group home came yesterday and I think he was thinking he was going to his group home yesterday or today and that took him to the breaking point. No big changes, he just doesn’t want to be here anymore. He asked for his favorite caregiver all the time.

We just don’t know what else to do. It is such a sad situation. The group home owners told us they don’t want Kevin back until he gets his medications and behaviors fixed by the Fircrest team. DDA people are telling us there are no beds. Kevin is trapped in this mess and his father and I don’t know how to help him anymore!! 😢

Kevin again was admitted to the SECU about February 27, 2019 where he remains today.

The plan that DDA has come up with now is to find a place to have a respite bed and Kevin will be able to stay there from March 11 – March 28, while DDA helps the group home look for a house.  If Kevin does not have any behavior issues during this time he will be able to go to the new house if it is ready – if not, well – let’s not go there and let’s assume DDA will be able to provide the community supports that Kevin needs.
Kevin mowing the lawn

Please put pressure on our legislators to fund community supports – years of cuts in addition to understaffing and underpaying caregivers in addition to greatly underestimating the necessary funding for services and supports has led our state (and others) on a rapid downward spiral.

It’s time to pull ourselves out of this mess, understand the choices and needs of those we support and be realistic with funds and services.

 

Employment First!

Washington State is an Employment First state – this means working age adults (ages 21-61 years of age)  enrolled in Developmental Disability Services are REQUIRED to first participate in employment services for 9 months before they can switch to community inclusion services.

According to the “JLARC Review and Analysis Report of Employment and Community Inclusion Measurement 2018  the data collected by the State of Washington through the CARE database and the National Core Indicators (NCI) limit the evaluation of the benefits and outcomes for people with IDD to just a descriptive state level information.  There is no information that can be used for systemic improvement of services for actual individual outcomes for people with IDD.  Below are just a few quotes from this informative report.

We often assume that services for people with IDD are effective but often this is assumption is only supported by anecdotal evidence or no evidence at all.

Under the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) settings rule, there has become a heightened need to assure the services people with IDD receive allow them to use personal autonomy, community inclusion and choice.

It has been noted that with fewer people with IDD working in sheltered workshop settings today there has not been a corresponding increase in the percentage of people with IDD working competitively (Butterworth, etlal, 2012)

The Arc of King County reported in a tweet:

87 percent working in WA

According to data from the Developmental Disabilities Administration 2018 Caseload and Cost Report a different story is told:

In FY 2017 there were 8102 people receiving supported employment services

  • 45% made at least minimum wage
  • 28% made less than minimum wage
  • 27% did not earn any wage

This is very concerning regarding current legislation of HB 1706 which will eliminate special certificates.  Also, what are those 27% doing if they are not earning a wage?  Are they losing skills while they sit and wait 9 months until they can request to be transferred to community inclusion services?

DDA cost report 2018 employment status

 

DDA employment clients by wage status

 

Where are the evaluations?

Shaun Bickley “an autistic person who organized a campaign to end subminimum wage in Seattle” turned down the choice to work in a sheltered workshop when he was younger while living in Texas.  It’s great that he had the choice and is employable – he currently works for The Arc of King County in Seattle, WA.

While Bickley flips a page that lists  “over 80 organizations that have signed on in support”  (see link). I am curious if any of them know the full story, have heard of evaluations that have been done in states which have eliminated special certificates or that people in Seattle lost work hours – due to this type of legislation.

There is more to the issue than the wage and the fact that these advocates do not understand or acknowledge that supported employment, while a wonderful opportunity, is costly to sustain.  This is clearly evident in the fact that their Fiscal Note states “No fiscal impact”.  How do they propose employing all these people in supported employment without a fiscal impact?

There needs to be a lot of answers here before moving forward with anymore legislation of this kind.

The following information is taken from Morningside’s Website 

How does Morningside’s Supported Employment Program Work?

After a careful assessment of an individual’s skills and vocational interests, a Morningside job developer will conduct a job search in the community, assisting prospective employers in the identification of appropriate jobs and tasks to meet the needs of their specific businesses. A comprehensive job analysis is conducted to ensure a good employer/employee match. An applicant is referred followed by a job interview, after which the final hiring decision is the employer’s.

How is Morningside Involved After the Placement?

Employment specialists, or job coaches, assist new employees with a comprehensive job orientation, followed by on-going, individualized training and assistance to promote satisfactory work performance on an as-needed basis. They may also provide job modification assistance to employers, disability awareness training for co-workers, or job retention services to the employee and business on a long term basis.

What Reasonable Accommodations will I be Expected to Make for my New Employee and What will They Cost?

The employment specialist may analyze job tasks, restructure how specific job tasks are completed or teach tasks differently to best fit employer/employee needs. Most accommodations cost nothing at all and, in most cases, the employment specialist’s time is free to the employer.

Who pays Morningside (and other agencies? According to the Fiscal note it appears there is no cost.

How can the fiscal note be ZERO?

“Bottom Dollars”, a documentary on sub-minimum wage and sheltered workshops produced by @rootedinrights and Disability Rights Washington, has a statement which tells the truth about the situation –

“If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals”  – For some reason, this critical statement is not mentioned in any reference to the documentary or supported employment.

Supported employment offers wonderful opportunities to disabled employees and benefits to the employers and our community.  Unfortunately, just as “Bottom Dollars” states, the proper services and supports are needed.  This means FUNDS.  For some reason, advocates, legislators and community members forget about this cornerstone to supported employment  which ensures supported employment to be successful and sustainable.

Microsoft, has developed a “SE -Toolkit” and has a wonderful outlook regarding the benefits to all of hiring people with disabilities. The videos on the site have examples of some wonderful success stories and it is terrific to see disabled people working and enjoying their jobs in the communities.

The information below is from the Microsoft Supported Employment FAQ webpage

Who pays the Supported Employees and their coaches?

Employers do not pay a fee to the coaching agencies. Coaches work for employment coaching agencies, which are usually non-profits funded by government entities. In Washington, the primary government funders are the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and county Divisions of Developmental Disabilities.
Supported Employees are paid by their employer. The expectation is that vendors will hire Supported Employees within existing labor budgets within the Real Estate and Facilities scope. Vendors hire Supported Employees for roles that they need to fill.

How do job seekers with I/DD find out about Supported Employment opportunities with Microsoft RE&F vendors?

When a vendor has a job opening for a Supported Employee, the program manager notifies the coaching agency partners. The agencies determine which individuals are best suited and qualified for the specific job opening, and assist those individuals with applying, interviewing, onboarding, and ongoing job coaching.
Candidates for employment should contact one of our partner agencies. See the earlier topic, “Who are the primary partners in the Microsoft RE&F Supported Employment Program” for more information, or download our employment agency list.