Missing – Common Sense

This is been a year long battle with The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities regarding their rapid elimination of special certificates that can allow specific people with specific disabilities to work at a specific job for a wage that may be less than the minimum wage.  While they are calling these certificates “discrimination”, the certificates  can actually provide people with an alternative for community integration that they may not have now.
This Commission and those organizations that have signed onto this thought process believing that just raising the wages will enhance these people’s lives have forgotten to ask the affected people themselves.  Some very important information regarding critical issues that people with disabilities who have significant support needs and how those needs are going to be accommodated have not been addressed.
This is the fallout of making laws without collaboration and without addressing the concerns of those who are directly involved.  The Commission refused to address a variety of concerns from stakeholders saying that those concerns didn’t matter and had nothing to do with the certificates or elimination of sub-minimum wage.
The facts are very different – there were 8 employees in Seattle who were making a sub-minimum wage  –   6 were at Ballard Locks making between $9.00 and $10.50 an hour and 2 other employees at community sites who earned  $11.01 and $11.25 an hour.  (The Commission reported extremely inaccurate information via a press release stating that there were “at least 130 disabled workers in the city of Seattle making subminimum wage, most making under $1.60/hr.  The lowest-paid worker under these exemptions in Seattle makes 20 cents an hour”   SCPWD Press Release June 22 2017
The totally false information The Commission released to the press (and previously to the former Mayor and Councilmember Herbold) was discovered as a mistake by the then co-chair of The Commission.  This error was pointed out to the person of contact on the Press Release who refused to issue a correction.  The author stated – press release already went out, if we receive follow up we can discuss that with those people.  He also stated that he would believe the documents he got from Department of Labor over what someone told him.  Unfortunately, this person was not able to read the document from DOL correctly and made this huge mistake in numbers of employees and their wages.  Commission will not amend press release
This is how the Commission responds to those who questioned their numbers:
April 13 2018 second chance from Commission - spam and deliberately false information
Before this issue goes any further under such faulty research and data collection, stop and listen to those whose lives were and will be directly affected by these changes.
I continue to ask the Commission about accountability and transparency – they feel threatened and harassed by me and want to have me banned from Commission meetings.
Maybe the Commissioners should actually read some of the comments I have shared and read the research and documents they presented regarding recommendations.  While doing that, they should research what has happened in those other states who have changed their laws – are the people working, have their lives improved?  These are all issues that need to be addressed before more action is taken.

Email from Shaun Bickley regarding City Council – do not share

The Seattle Disability Commission is proud to be among the first organizations to call for an end to Washington’s exemption to minimum wage laws, which allow employers to pay disabled people, and only disabled people, less than minimum wage.

A current copy of the letter can be found here: https://docs.google.com/…/1cCT_IL6I3HLcmYKdK5QhdNamqQ…/edit…

If your business or organization (operating in the state of Washington) would like to be added, please email sbickley@arcofkingcounty.org . Text is below:

We, the undersigned organizations, oppose the practice of paying workers with disabilities subminimum wage. On April 13, 2018, Seattle joined the states of Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland, in ending the outdated practice of allowing subminimum wage employment of people based on their disabilities. We do not believe workers should be discriminated against on the basis of disability and join the growing coalition advocating for an end to state laws that allow such discrimination.

We believe all workers should be fairly compensated and are entitled to the same minimum wage protections regardless of their disability status. We hope the State of Washington will join other states and cities in taking the lead to put an end to this unfair employment practice.

Sincerely,

Able Opportunities, Inc.
Allies in Advocacy
The Arc of King County
The Arc of Snohomish County
ASUW Student Disability Commission
AtWork!
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
Community Employment Alliance
Disability Rights Washington
Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)
Geeks Without Bounds
Morningside
National Federation of the Blind of Washington
Open Doors for Multicultural Families
People First of Snohomish County
People First of Washington
Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities
Seattle LGBTQ Commission
Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL)
Sherwood Community Services
TASH
Washington ADAPT
Washington CAN
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
Working Washington
Work Opportunities

This must STOP

A mother who sought help for her son was taken under the wing of a local Arc Chapter.  They promised her that he could be moved from the RHC to a community home near their home community.  This mom believed them, because why wouldn’t one believe that The Arc would advocate for her son with developmental disabilities – isn’t that what they are supposed to do?

Margaret believed and The Arc provided.  Margaret testified to our legislature that she supported SB 5459 and at the time, she did and believed it was about choice.  Then, she started to see some inconsistencies during a retreat for advocacy training.  She said that she would not testify again because she didn’t believe them anymore.  These “advocates” stopped supporting her, turned their backs on her and her son and her life has become a living hell.

She was not allowed to visit her teenage son without giving at least an hour’s notice to the home.  Then she noticed that her already thin son was losing weight, his skin ashen and his eyes dull.  She complained that the written menus were not being followed and there was not adequate food in the home.  There were other problems too – not only with her son but with the other residents.  The mom took her son to the pediatrician that he had seen almost his whole life and then the boy was taken to the hospital.

This is where the story takes an even more sinister turn – CPS was called – not to investigate the allegations that she had against the group home but against her.  Her son was removed from her and taken to an undisclosed location.  She had to go to court and lost total custody and is only allowed supervised visits.  Last night the CPS case worker “forgot” to take the son to meet his mom, she tried to call the home, the CPS worker and DDD.  No one answered the phone and she had no idea where her son was.

We have written letters to all legislators in Washington and to MaryAnne Lindeblad.  Ms. Lindeblad immediately responded and told me that this would be investigated.   I attempted to get through to Disability Rights Washington but they were not responsive.  I filed a complaint with the Office of Family and Child Ombudsmen regarding alleged false accusations against this mom.

I am very glad to say that we do have some extremely strong legislators who have integrity and they are working to help this family reunite.  We can not thank them enough for their continued support and work for our most vulnerable citizens:  Representative Sherry Appleton, Senator Maralyn Chase, Representative Maureen Walsh and Senator Pam Roach are heroes in our eyes tonight.

This is very unfortunate that The Arc will not support anyone that does not agree with their platform.  Not only will they not support you, but in this case they have actually done great harm.  This mom now knows that community is not always best and she wishes she had never listened to their “lies and trickery.”

This is not ADVOCACY at all – this is abuse and it needs to stop.

 

 

What is an Intellectual Disability (ID)

This is a short video put out by The American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  It helps to clarify what these terms mean.   I have tried to communicate for years – IQ cannot be the only determining factor in seeing how a person is able to function.  This multidimensional definition is much more in tune with reality.

The highlights of the information are:

There can be HUGE differences between someone with a developmental disability and one with an intellectual disability – a person with a DD does not necessarily have an ID. I would venture to say that every person who lives in the  Residential Habilitation Center (RHC)  has an ID of significant support needs.

Also with these new definitions they are looking more holistically and in a multidimensional view of human function.

These are:

1. Intellectual

2. Adaptive behavior

3. Health

4. Participation

5. Context (cultural aspect)

The definition of ID must include the individual’s assessed supports needs. The person’s level of function is directly related to the supports they receive. When you look at the potential with appropriate supports then you have a complete system.

The supports must be sustainable in order to maintain functioning of the system.

We have the appropriate support systems in place for our residents who live in the RHC – and it has taken a lot of work to get to this point, we have oversight, we have trained staff, we have community, we have health care – we want others to have these same critical supports and this is why we advocate so strongly for a continuum of care.

Removing these supports from those who need them to function is not in the best interest of ANYONE.

Interesting Comments From The Arc of Snohomish County

This goes back to my own (non-scientific but easy and useful) assessment of function and needed supports for RHC communities:

1.  Can the person independently cross the street

2.  Can the person independently go to a familiar grocery store, pick out one familiar item, stand in line and pay for the item?

3.  Can the person independently and appropriately manage their own personal care needs?

My guess would be that for people who need supports to do all 3 of the above tasks, their support needs are quite high.  It would be extremely difficult and expensive to safely care for this person in an independent living home.  For people who have this high of support needs and for those who choose to live in an RHC community, the RHC community is the safest, least restrictive  and most cost effective environment for them.  This is where they will consistently receive the needed supports from trained and knowledgable staff in order to function at their optimal level.

This is not everyone’s choice but for those who do choose this environment,

why are they being denied that human and civil right?