Experiences transitioning from the use of Section 14(c) certificates

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Missouri isn't always first, but when it comes to employment opportunities for folks with a disability, the options are many. Having worked in the service end of things for over 40 years, I've witnessed alot of change for the better, but eliminating options shouldn't be one of them. I'm not advocating that sheltered employment should be for everyone, but by eliminating the 14(c) certificates, that's pretty much what would happen. I've never been sure what defines a disability. From my experience it is $$$, and over the years I've seen persons that were disabled, all of a sudden when funding got short, they were no longer so. We all fall somewhere on the "continuum" of abilities. Many of those advocating for disability rights, are focusing on a small segment of the population while forgetting about the rest. We must look at "everyone" and what makes sense. For many the alternative to not working in a sheltered employment situation, would be to sit at home and be isolated, or to be relegated to an expensive Medicaid day habilitation program. (Those aren't all bad either, but again, not for everyone!). Here is Missouri, locally, we have two premiere examples of a well thought out, quality program that with the 14(c) certificates and minimal state funding, are able to provide quality employment for those that CHOOSE to work there. These options have evolved over the years and now offer those in the sheltered employment to experience supported jobs in the community, job exploration, etc. with many eventually choosing to leave the sheltered employment and be successful in a community job. However many times this is at the expense of having reduced working hours, making the same money, but having alot of "isolated , alone time at home". Over the years I've seen many that thought they preferred competitive community employment, but after several attempts, went back to the sheltered employment where they could work at their own pace, make some $ but even more importantly, have a social life with their friends. We've come along way with community attitudes, but have a long way to go before those with a disability are fully accepted, especially those with significant challenges. It would be a shame to eliminate OPTIONS and CHOICE, so that we as society feel good about ourselves. When we ADVOCATE, let's advocate for ALL persons, not just the few we know.

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Idea No. 170