Joe and Amy Easter from Farmington (left) along with Lynn and Nick Beauchaine (right) from St. Louis were among the parents and workers with a disability who took the workshop message to Washington during Missouri Day on the Hill July 14.
National Leader Sees Both Challenge and Opportunity
ACCSES President and CEO Terry Farmer sees the rise of Missouris efforts such as Day on the Hill as a significant development nationally.
“We are so enthusiastic about Missouri getting hold of the challenges we face as an industry nationwide,” Farmer said recently. “The threats out there are very real and threaten all individuals with disabilities.”
That’s why it’s critical for workshop managers, parents and consumers to take their message to the leaders of the nation. “Missouri is among the states leading the way. “They’re engaging their workers and family members, mobilizing and educating. That’s a model for success.”
An important step is to let leaders see workshops firsthand. “Developing a relationship with your representatives is critical. And letting representatives and their staffs see, feel and experience workshops will let them understand what’s going on. When they see individual workers happy and engaged, when they hear from the loved ones about how good they feel, how they used to be listless and sit in front of the TV, and now they have pride and a paycheck, they’ll understand so much better. This makes a difference.”
Workshops may need to better communicate their historic support for employment options, choice and supports such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. But private employment is not an answer for all workers with disabilities and blindly attempting to replace workshops with that will lead to tragedy.
“We know that our economic marketplace struggles finding full employment for even the most capable workers in our society. There needs to be a place for those who struggle to find employment because of a disability.”
One example is 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and commensurate wages for people whose production is not equal to workers without disabilities. “Commensurate wage was intended and is still a viable tool to see that people have a job,” he said. “If those options go away, the only option for some will be a kind of daycare. We’re already seeing that in a few states like Maine, New Hampshire and Washington, and it’s coming to Maryland. Letting that become the national standard will be a tragedy.”