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Supported Employment News

LRS Order of Selection Closures!

Louisiana Rehabilitation Services closed Order of Selection Groups 1, 2, and 3 effective 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 29, 2016. As of this date, 99.4% of the current program year's funding has been expended, or obligated to serve LRS’ existing Vocational Rehabilitation consumers. This means that no new Individualized Plans for Employment (IPEs) can be approved for persons determined eligible and assigned to Order of Selection Groups 1 through 5 (All Order of Selection Groups) after this date. LRS will continue to honor all approved plans in place as of February 29, 2016 for all clients already being served.

Federal regulations mandate state VR agencies to implement an “order of selection” to prioritize services to individuals with the most significant disabilities when it anticipates that it will not have sufficient funds to fully serve all individuals eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. Because OOS Categories 4 and 5 were already closed, this means that all categories are now closed.

LRS projects that the remaining budget for SFY 2016 is insufficient to continue serving newapplicants. Furthermore, anticipated reductions for SFY 2017 further support the closing of Categories 1 - 3. LRS is developing a staffing plan that will reflect a significant reduction in LRS’ staff in order to maximize available funding for direct services to consumers.

Applicants determined eligible for services shall be placed in a delayed status in the appropriate OOS category. All consumers in Eligible status and assigned to an OOS Category who have not had an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) developed and signed as of 4:30 P.M. on February 29, 2016 shall be placed in delayed status. All consumers with approved plans in place for OOS Categories 1-5 as of February 29, 2016 will continue to receive services per LRS' policy regarding Continuity of Services until such time as funding is depleted. Counselors will continue to obtain diagnostic services on both new referrals and on consumers in application status in order to determine their placement under the Order of Selection. Those consumers will be placed on a deferred service waiting list until LRS can once again serve these categories.

LRS will strategically work with other programs within LWC to maximize employment opportunities to those consumers in delayed status and waiting for services. Those consumers on the waiting list will be referred to the Career Solution Centers for placement. LRS will also collaborate with the LWC Career Solution Centers for training resources for consumers on the waiting list.

Note: Any individual who receives an OCDD waiver can access SE services through the waiver without having to exhaust LRS funding first.

For advocacy assistance with issues related to LRS, contact the Advocacy Center's Client Assistance Program (CAP) at 1-800-960-7705! 

For more information, visit the Work Pay$ website.


Louisiana WIOA Combined State Plan

The Louisiana WIOA Combined State Plan is now available at the following link:

Louisiana WIOA Combined State Plan Draft 

Although goals and strategies have been identified, the planning process is not complete. This is your opportunity to participate in the planning process, and Louisiana welcomes your input.

The draft of Louisiana’s Combined State Plan is available for public comment until 11:59 p.m., March 30, 2016. Louisiana is seeking input and comments from subject matter experts, required partners and other stakeholders. Comments are welcomed for content, language, and overall implementation of Louisiana’s Combined State Plan.


Work Pay$ and Louisiana APSE (LAAPSE) Joined forces moving forward in 2016

We believe that by doing so, we can focus our commitment to enhance access to employment, the "Employment First Initiative", and allow us to direct and focus our shared goals. The plan is to join our Work Pay$ and LAAPSE quarterly meetings. Further discussion on how to structure our collaboration will take place at our next quarterly meeting.


Disabled people are allowed to work for pennies per hour — but maybe not for much longer

The era of the "sheltered workshop" is on the way out.


According to the Department of Labor, 228,600 disabled people across the country work in what’s known as “sheltered” employment; disability advocates estimate that number may be on the low-side due to under-reporting. But the practice has fallen increasingly out of favor in policy circles, and in could soon end entirely in Maryland: A bill is advancing through the state legislature that would phase out the practice by 2019.

“Eliminating or phasing out the special minimum wage would likely result in many individuals with significant disabilities receiving no wages instead of earning special minimum wages,” reads a 2013 Goodwill position paper on the issue. "Furthermore, they would be denied the tangible and intangible benefits of work: independence, participation, dignity, self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, among others."

Nevertheless, defenders of the practice are now losing on a host of fronts. A non-exhaustive list: In 2014, Congress passed a new workforce investment law that places a number of restrictions on the use of sub-minimum wages, requiring that disabled people be counseled about their vocational options before being referred to a sheltered workshop. The law also called for a committee to make recommendations on the future of the program, and the resulting report recommended that it be phased out entirely, which the federal National Council on Disability had already endorsed. Meanwhile, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has stated his opposition to the sub-minimum wage exemption, and last year New Hampshire became the first state to ban the practice. 



Sue Killam Appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council

BATON ROUGE - Today, Sue Killam, of New Orleans, Employment Initiatives Coordinator at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – Human Development Center.  Ms. Killam will be appointed to serve as a representative of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty representing themselves, as required by executive order.  Other appointees include, Nanetta Magness, of Shreveport, Director of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Center for the Louisiana Association for the Blind and Nicole Walker, of Baton Rouge, Assistant Executive Director of UPLIFTD, a non-profit vocational rehabilitation organization.

The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council serves to review, analyze, and evaluate the state rehabilitation program.  According to executive order BJ 08-71, the council is comprised of 25 gubernatorial appointments, including the director of the Louisiana Rehabilitation Services and one vocational rehabilitation counselor, serving as non-voting members. The remaining 23 voting members include the following:

*   One representative from a parent training and information center established pursuant to §682(a) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
*   The chair of the Statewide Independent Living Council or their designee;
*   One representative of the Client Assistance Program;
*   One representative from the service providers for the community rehabilitation program;
*   Four representatives of business, industry, and labor;
*   Twelve members representing a cross section of the following categories:
*   Individuals with physical, cognitive, sensory, and mental disabilities;
*   Representatives of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty representing themselves; and
*   Current or former applicants for, or recipients of, vocational rehabilitation services.
*   One representative of the State Workforce Investment Board;
*   One representative of the state educational agency responsible for the public education of students with disabilities who are eligible to receive services under 29 U.S.C.A. §720 and part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and
*   One representative of the directors of a project carried out under §121 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998.


Landmark Americans with Disabilities Act Settlement Agreement Reached with Rhode Island in Segregation Violations

This week, the Justice Department announced that it has entered into a 10 year statewide settlement agreement that will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The broader impact of this settlement is yet to be resolved for the rest of the nation. In fact, this is the nation’s first statewide settlement that addresses the rights of people with disabilities to receive state funded employment and daytime services in the broader community, instead of being unduly segregated in "sheltered" workshops and facility-based day programs.

Current estimates yield that there are as many as 450,000 people with I/DD across the country who spend their days in segregated sheltered workshops or in segregated day programs. This statistic is even more alarming since segregation of services and supports was previously addressed in the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C, which requires persons with I/DD be served in the most integrated setting appropriate.

Under this landmark agreement, here is a brief summary of what Rhode Island has agreed to provide:
- Individual supported employment placements typical jobs in the community,
- Supports for integrated non-work activities for times when people are not at work in community environments and locations that are available to everyone,
- Transition services for students with I/DD, to start at age 14,
- Significant funding sustained over a ten year period that redirects funds currently used to support services in segregated settings to those that incentivize services in integrated settings.

For more information visit the US Department of Justice Website on the American with Disabilities Act.


The Two Sides of the Employment First Coin

Like a two-sided coin, the advocacy movement of Employment First has two core linked components. 

The first side is about ending obsolete practices – to phase out the needless segregation, less-than-minimum wages, and limited work tasks given to people with disabilities that make up much of sheltered work. 

The second side is to provide a system that supports, for every individual with a disability, a preference for quality employment services that are individualized. These are services that lead to well-matched jobs to enhance productivity, social success, and wages in community integrated businesses.

Read more about efforts to end segregation and discrimination facing people with disabilities at the Ending Disability Segregation Blog.


Rising to the Occasion: National Trends in Employment First Policy, Practice & Systems Change

AUCD staff participated in a U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy briefing on its employment first initiatives. The briefing, entitled "Rising to the Occasion: National Trends in Employment First Policy, Practice & Systems Change," featuring presentation by national experts sharing national trends and best practices in employing people with developmental and other disabilities. State leaders from WA, IA, TN, and OR, informed participants about ODEP's Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program. ODEP officials and staff also provided information about an online "Community of Practice," initiative that any state advocates or professionals interested in sharing strategies for adopting state policies that lead to increased employment outcome for individuals with disabilities, may go to to register.

Learn about ODEP's Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program.

Find out more about the Employment First initiatives on the ODEP website.


A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities

During his tenure as chair of the National Governors Association, Governor Jack Markell chose his initiative as "A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities". His initiative will focus on the employment challenges that affect individuals with intellectual and other significant disabilities and the role that both state government and business can play in facilitating and advancing opportunities for these individuals to be gainfully employed in the competitive labor market.

Visit the A Better Bottom Line website:


Final Rule: Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act - To Improve Job Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

Two new rules designed to improve employment opportunities for protected veterans and qualified workers with disabilities are published in the Federal Register. Both rules become effective March 24, 2014.  Federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to comply with most of the requirements of the new rules by this date. However, the rules give contractors additional time to comply with requirements in subpart C, which relates to affirmative action programs (AAPs). Contractors with AAPs in place on March 24 may maintain them until the end of their current AAP year, allowing them to delay compliance with the affirmative action requirements of the new rules until the start of their next AAP year.

To learn more about these new rules, please visit: and


The Housing and Poverty Crisis for People with Disabilities

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force and the Technical Assistance Collaborative have release their yearly report on the unaffordability of housing for people with disabilities on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Priced Out 2012 calculates the difference between what an individual receiving SSI can reasonably afford to pay for housing costs and the average cost of modest housing units. Among the key findings are that 1) People with disabilities who rely on SSI continue to be among the nation's poorest citizens. In 2012, the national average monthly SSI payment for a single individual was only $726 - equal to only 19.2% of the national median income and almost 30% below the 2012 federal poverty level of $11,170; and 2) as a national average, a person receiving SSI needed to pay 104% of their monthly income in order to rent a modest one-bedroom unit.  For more information, see the fact sheet and press release accompanying the report.

Read the fact sheet and press release accompanying the report.

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