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


Straw Ban, Straw Kids and SB5077

The Straw Ban – where to start and where to end – there are several issues that need to be discussed and there is one issue that is non-negotiable.

Yes, we do have a plastics problem – that’s a given.  There are many misunderstandings regarding the major culprits of this and the major areas that are causing the pollution.  Those are the areas that can be discussed and hashed out with those environmentalists that understand this issue.

The non-negotiable issue is the use of single-use bendable plastic straws which are life saving tools for many with disabilities.  This is not an issue that is only for those who are currently disabled but an issue for everyone.  Aging, disease or acquired disability could cause any one of us to rely on these straws for our life. There are no viable alternatives for this population.

I know that photos of sea animals with injuries from plastics is not a pretty sight to see and I feel very sorry for those animals too.

But, I also have great concern for the harm that can come to our fellow humans when they are denied tools that enable them to have a full life.  Without these particular straws, people will aspirate and that leads to a whole cascade of events often leading to death.

aspiration pneumonia

17 year old with acute respiratory failure

aspiration caused acute respiratory failure

This is a 17 year old boy who developed acute respiratory failure – could have been something he aspirated.  He now has chronic lung damage.

SB 5077 was brought to Senator Patty Kuderer by students at Lake Washington High School.  In addition to these students testifying at the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee on January 24, 2019, a younger group of students, the Straw Kids,  from Redmond, WA also provided testimony.

While it is terrific to see these young students engaged in the legislative process, it would be great if they could also learn about the lives of those with disabilities and have real concern and understanding for the needs these real people are saying are a necessity to their life.

kids testifying for sb 5077

“Straw Kids” from Redmond, WA 

Please, kids, take a look at the photo of your peer, learn about people with disabilities and the tools they need to live, do not deny life to your fellow humans.