90-Day Wonder: Reducing Missouri’s Waiting List

Sheltered Workshop Division Director Dan Gier noted recently worked with Missouri workshops to dramatically reduce the waiting list for workshop employment.
A dramatic reduction in the waiting list for Missouri workshop employees with disabilities recently occurred last fall with some hard work by workshops and the state’s Extended Employment Sheltered Workshop Division.

Division Director Dan Gier explained that, for years, the waiting list has hovered at more than 1,100 people. A related problem arose in recent years as workshop business increased, but workers remained hard to find because of out-of-date information and other factors.

“The shops were saying business is picking up because of the economy, but we can’t find anyone to hire,” Gier explained.

Working with state workshops, the department conducted a statistical sampling of shops, going through their waiting lists in order to identify any common factors. “People couldn’t be found or traced or had been contacted and didn’t want to work,” he summarized.

A key step was contacting those who had been certified and placed in an archive. This helped eliminate some 800 “bad” names of those who were not seeking employment or otherwise not eligible. Then the division requested those shops with people remaining contact them and determine their status. Many could not be found because they relocated, some were in day habilitation programs and others had entered competitive employment.

The result was a dramatic reduction in the waiting list, from 1,150 to 231.

“The workshops really stepped up,” Gier said. “The average shop had an average of 15 to 18, and they had to call them and check with them. We really saw good cooperation.”

Gier said the Division would continue working with shops to maintain a small waiting list and continue its reduction. One step will be the use of an online list to coordinate certification.

“A lot of shops would certify anyone that walked in the door, even if they didn’t have a job,” he noted. “Others would take their name but not certify unless they had a job. Most seem to be doing that now, and it’s all online and quick. The shops were fantastic in kicking off a new system.”

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