14c certificates are not creating real work opportunities for disabled workers. As a sibling of a person with Intellectual Disability and advocate, I have seen firsthand how disabled workers are shortchanged by providers with 14c certificates. There is little creativity for supporting disabled workers to build their skill set and I have yet to see a provider that aims to get disabled workers to GRADUATE with skills from their program to enter competitive integrated employment!
I once worked with a disabled woman who was seeking benefits. She lived in a small community and spent her entire life being segregated- special education classes, a group home placement and a sheltered workshop. She saw the same people her entire life through all of those environments. She had NO experience interacting with anyone that wasn't staff or her family outside of her peers. Is that what we want for disabled workers? To continue segregation?
I was told by a case worker that she was a "difficult" person to work with because she didn't want to return to her sheltered work program. When I asked her about this, she said, "Why should I? I haven't learned anything new in 15 years and I see the same people I saw in elementary school. And I get paid nothing. I'd rather sit at home and get my SSI check."
So we are not only not providing competitive integrated employment opportunities- we are making it more attractive to collect benefits rather than pursue economic self-sufficiency! This is ridiculous!!
It is time for a complete phase-out of the use of 14(c) certificates and sub-minimum wage for ALL people with disabilities. Why is it that people with disabilities are the only population that can be paid less than minimum wage and it's seen as acceptable? Disabled workers will never have equal rights or be considered for competitive, integrated employment when the federal government doesn't amend an archaic law from 1938 that completely devalues disabled workers.