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Who's Home is It?  "Hands Off: It's My Home!"

This video exemplifies the type of community living outcomes envisioned by the CMS Final Setting Rule.  While not everyone will have their own home, the spirit of empowerment exhibited in this video is true to intent of the Final Settings Rule.  The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council is working with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing in their efforts to appropriately implement the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Final Settings Rule (FSR).  HCBS waiver services presently provide services and supports to Colorado adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The intent of this rule is to assure participants have full access to the benefits of community living and the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate.  Additionally, the rule's purpose is to enhance the quality of HCBS and provide basic civil rights protections to participants.    More specifically, the FSR ensures an individual's rights of privacy, dignity, respect, and freedom from coercion and restraint and optimizes individual initiative, autonomy, and independence in making life choices.

Because the federal government has recently reduced guidance on what constitutes appropriate home settings it is up to families, self-advocates and allies to assure we change Colorado's current systems to align with the FSR so that people with developmental disabilities may exercise their civil rights and access the community in the same ways as any other Colorado citizen.  Please see Open Futures Learning for additional information on how services and supports should work for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 


Comment Today to Support Equal Pay for People with Disabilities!

This week the Department of Labor announced its new website, "the Section 14(c) National Online Dialogue."  The purpose of the website is to collect comments from the public about the impact of paying subminimum wages to people with disabilities under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Employers with 14(c) certificates can legally pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage, often times pennies on the dollar.  Section 14(c) certificates are typically used in "sheltered workshops," where people with disabilities are segregated from the broader community.  Disability advocates view Section 14(c), which was created in 1938, as outdated, discriminatory, and reinforcing a life of poverty, segregation, and dependency on public support for people with disabilities.  It is critical that you make your voice heard!   

Input from people with disabilities, families, employment providers and employers is important.  Share your perspective online here before Friday, June 14th.  

Ideas to include in your comments are:

*If you are a person with a disability or a family member, talk about why a community job at fair pay is important to you/your family.  Think about relationships with co-workers, how you/your family member have grown in your job, and opportunities to go into the broader community.  If you/your family member have ever been paid subminimum wages, talk about how that made you feel and about your transition from sheltered work to CIE.

*If you are an employment provider, talk about how you support people with disabilities in competitive integrated employment.  If you are a provider who has transitioned away from using 14(c) certificates, talk about that experience.

*If you are an employer, talk about your experience with employees with disabilities.  Think about their contributions to your workplace and how you have been able to ensure their success.

*If you are an advocate familiar with disability employment trends in your state, share information about that progress.  Think about what policies have advanced CIE and how your state may be moving away from using sheltered workshops.

Disability advocates have made significant progress towards eliminating Section 14(c) and establishing the legal right of people with disabilities to be paid the same as everyone else.  In 2014, Congress passed the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which made competitive integrated employment (CIE) a priority, limited the use of subminimum wages for youth with disabilities, and required people currently being paid subminimum wages to be given other employment options.  In 2016, the Federal Advisory Committee for Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities recommended to Congress and the Labor Secretary that Section 14(c) be phased-out, together with capacity building for competitive integrated employment.  In 2019, Congress introduced bipartisan legislation, theTransformation to Competitive Employment Act, to phase-out 14(c) and help providers transform their models to CIE.  Numerous states have already prohibited the use of subminimum wages, and other states are currently considering legislation.  It is very important that we urge the Department of Labor to continue the progress towards ending this outdated and discriminatory practice.

Remember, you only have until June 14th to make your voice heard here!

The above was developed by our friends at the Center for Public Representation