California Departments Agree to Transform Employment Services to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Press Release

Sacramento, January 26, 2015 ‑‑ The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with Disability Rights California (DRC), recently took an historic step as one of a handful of states to transform its provision of employment services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Currently, under certain circumstances, employers can pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage based on their productivity.  This practice is most often applied to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are in “sheltered workshops” where they do not work alongside people without disabilities.

There is a national movement to prepare people with disabilities to work in integrated settings earning a livable wage, sometimes referred to as “competitive integrated employment” (CIE).  DOR, DDS, and CDE have agreed to develop a plan or “blueprint” to make CIE a reality in California.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, like Charles McCarron—a 45 year-old man who wanted to work in the food service industry from the time he was a teenager—can work in the community earning above minimum wage.  Although Charles graduated from his high school special education program, he was unable to get a job in the community.  Instead, he worked in a sheltered workshop earning about $.33 per hour.  Years later, with appropriate job development and coaching services, Charles now works at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, earning $10 per hour.

DOR, DDS, and CDE, with the involvement of Disability Rights California, will develop a blueprint over a six month period to guide California.  The blueprint will contain:

  1. A directive from each department to employees and partners that employment in integrated, competitive settings is preferred for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
  2. Establishment of measurable goals and benchmarks including timelines for performance outcomes and a process for reviewing the outcomes, to be completed within five years;
  3. Delineation of state and local agency roles and responsibilities in planning, services, coordination, and dispute resolution between departments;
  4. Development of requirements for annually informing individuals and their families about opportunities and supports for integrated, competitive employment;
  5. Development of specific recommendations for policy and regulatory change, and stakeholders’ recommendations for statutory changes;
  6. Creation of an informal resolution process for disputes among the departments regarding the implementation of the blueprint at the state and local levels.

“We applaud the state departments for demonstrating leadership on this issue to make CIE a reality in California,” said Andrew Mudryk, DRC’s Deputy Director. 

Throughout the process, DOR, DDS, and CDE will update the community on its progress in developing the blueprint and will invite input from stakeholders.