Evaluate the damage first

In King County, Washington State and across the nation service and employment options for people with significant disabilities are being taken away.  Washington State decided to begin the phase out of pre-vocational services and transition participants into employment or community inclusion services in 2015.  The process was completed by January 2019 in King County.

Gold Guy Kicked Out

Important Definition to understand and remember when reading any data regarding “EMPLOYMENT” in Washington State when connected to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities;

EMPLOYMENT –  gross wages are anything greater than ZERO during the previous 3 month time period.

 

We ask that the JLARC report be addressed and an evaluation of the damage done be completed prior to any more transitions and forced choices be made for this population.

Despite it being an objective of Developmental Disability Administration that DDA services provide quality of life benefits for clients, such as choice, relationships, integration in the community, and competence, there is no tool to measure this and so, unfortunately, we are unaware if the person’s choice was honored or if the changes have affected their quality of life.

This is what has happened in King County –  there were 143 people in pre-vocational services prior to denial of services.  These people were employed and working an average of 14.6 hours a week – some of this time was paid and some was not paid since other activities also took place on site.

AS of May 2019, here is the breakdown of what these 143 people are doing and what services they are provided:

37  – people do not have any services or open contracts – this could be for a variety of reasons – at any rate, they are not receiving employment or community inclusion supports

62 people are authorized for employment support – only 24 of these people are actually employed though

Employment rate of 39% – working an average of 6 hours a week 

44 people are authorized for community inclusion

Community Inclusion – 4 hours a week of community activities

Due to the forced choice and transition, people in this population went from an employment rate of  99%  to about 17% employment.  This is how Employment First works in Washington State.

2015 – 143 people employed in PVS  with 99% employment rate

2019 –   of those 143 people in 2015 only 24 are “Employed”  – this is an employment rate of 17%

  • Authorized does not mean the person is actually receiving any services or supports. It just means that they are authorized to receive those services/supports if they are available.

 

  • Employment First in WA means that one MUST utilize employment services for at least 9 months prior to Community Access services – these cannot be provided concurrently. There is a special waiver for a select few who may not need to “participate” in employment services for 9 months prior to Community Access services but this is very rare.

 

  •  For Individual Employment, support hours up to 26/month are paid at $73.00/hour, above 26/month are paid at $30/hour and the total fee is adjusted up to a maximum payment of $2,700/month – this cap will be increasing though.

Information provided by King County Developmental Disabilities Administration and State Data

Time to get back to work!

Now is the time to start planning for the upcoming legislative session.  As a community member, it is very, very difficult to be aware of these planning meetings in which paid advocates come up with their annual agenda.  Typically, the issues are not shared or discussed with the community and public until it’s a done deal.

This year, I contacted the King County Developmental Disabilities Administration regarding the legislative committee and planning sessions.  For some reason, the meeting dates and participants were not being shared on the website.  After my inquiry, I have received the information that I requested and an invite to the upcoming meetings.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in these planning meetings. With that being said, I am also disturbed by the gas-lighting that occurred at the meeting.

The issues that I raised at the meeting was the fact that in Washington State (an Employment First state) which means that a person age 21 or older with intellectual/developmental disabilities MUST try employment services first for 9 months before accessing community inclusion services under “Employment and Day Programs”  within DDA.

In addition, a person utilizing the employment supports (regardless if they are actually working at all or have minimal hours (5 or less a week) they are restricted from accessing community inclusion.  These two supports are mutually exclusive.

Many times these people have no community engagement or opportunities for meaningful interactions during this first 9 months or afterwards.  When these people are left without active supports, they lose skills and become more isolated and we believe that these supports should be able to be accessed concurrently (as many other states offer them.)

There were several representatives from The Arc of King County (paid advocates) at the meeting in addition to representatives from the state DDA, King County DD Admin, and representatives from other agencies which serve people with IDD.

The Arc of King County Director of Advocacy and the Arc of King County Family Engagement Coordinator both spoke up and stated that I was wrong in my statement that people receiving employment supports were not able to also access community inclusion.  I questioned when that change had been made and I was told that it was made several years ago and was in the waivers.

Being “corrected” by these paid advocates and “experts” at this public meeting was really a slap in the face.  They provided false information with their attempts to discredit what I was advocating for.

I followed up with emails to both of these people and to the King County Administrator who was running the meeting.  When questioned and asked for resources to back up their comments, both of these people wrote back to me that I was CORRECT in what I had said at the meeting.

What was the purpose of them speaking out against my comment?  What was the reason that they provided false information to those in the legislative planning meeting?

Employment Programs – DDA Fact Sheet 2019

Community Inclusion – DDA Fact Sheet 2019

 

 

Community Homes Open House

 

Unique Living Opportunity With Community Homes

Friends of Community Homes:

Community Homes is planning to open a new home in King County sometime in 2013 for young adults with developmental disabilities.
If you or someone you know is looking for a residential setting that promotes self determination and community involvement for its residents please contact:
   Vicki Isett                                   Alyssa Midgley
Executive Director          OR      Program Coordinator
(425) 443 – 7210
Community Homes
Open House
Learn more about what makes our homes unique!
Date: Sunday August 5, 2012
Time: 12pm – 2pm
Address:  10218 168th Pl. NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Visit our website