Get the Facts – and Take Action
Here at Skils’kin, we recognize that in order to truly fulfill our mission of enriching the quality of life for adults with disabilities, we must participate in robust advocacy efforts – and we want you to join us.
Listed below are action items that will directly impact the lives of individuals with disabilities. For each action item listed, we have provided information and a corresponding link that will enable you to effortlessly contact your legislators. Please join us in taking a stand on the issues that affect the individuals we serve.
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- Supported Living Funding
- Supported Living Funding Crisis
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers was the first person to sign a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking to the importance of clarifying the regulations on the employment of people with significant disabilities through the AbilityOne program. Please join Skils’kin in thanking the Congresswoman by clicking here.
To take action and contact your representatives about this issue, click here.
WIOA regulations and guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) exceed congressional intent and are eliminating quality job placements by state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies in nonprofits participating in the AbilityOne program.
To learn more, read the following issue brief provided by SourceAmerica:
Supported Living Funding
Supported Living provides a nurturing environment at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. Individuals living with Supported Living services receive assistance with not only medical and mental health but financial stability and succeeding at everyday tasks. Individuals have the opportunity to discuss and actualize their goals, wants and dreams.
When Supported Living isn’t available, the State refers individuals to a State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) or a Residential Rehabilitation Center (RHC) which are double or triple the average daily cost of a Supported Living setting.
Being a DSP is a demanding and intense job that requires patience, heart and dedication to the individuals they serve. Through their diligence, guidance and supports individuals are able to live a fulfilled and active life: their greatest life. For example, when Turner arrived at his supported living home, his ventures into the community were limited to Walgreen’s or the McDonald’s drive thru. After the ability to live in a supported living facility, he has played Frisbee golf, attended Cat Tales zoological park as well as shop in any grocery store. In addition, he has volunteered at multiple locations and has been accepted in the Spokane School’s School to Work program, something his family never thought possible. Not only is he enjoying socializing, he is also completing tasks such as food preparation, assisting with laundry and making his own bed. All of these chores and activities never seemed imaginable prior to supported living.
For more on Turner’s story, please watch the following video:
Supported Living Funding Crisis
Community Residential Services (CRS) assists adults with disabilities living in the community while providing important individualized supports. Community Residential Programs are the lowest cost options to taxpayers. Alternatives like State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) and Residential Rehabilitation Centers (RHC) are substantially more expensive to taxpayers.
The CRS program has historically been funded at a level that allows for wages just above minimum wage. With the passage of Initiative 1433 increasing minimum wage to $11.00 per hour, it is now impossible to maintain competitive wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSP). Statewide turnover for DSPs already exceeds 50%, and the number will likely increase.
Supported Living and Group Homes, the primary services of CRS, save the state and taxpayers a substantial amount of money while providing consistent services to those they serve. Supported Living services provide stable residential structures so that individuals with disabilities can pursue their personal goals and live fulfilling adult lives. Community Residential programs serve individuals in the state who qualify for State support under the Medicaid Basic Waiver at an average cost of $299.09 per day. This cost is significantly lower than State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) at $533.07 per day and Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC) at $670.44 per day.
Because of the difficulties in hiring and retaining DSPs, many agencies cannot accept new clients and are forced to turn individuals away from the most affordable option of Supported Living. These individuals are then likely to receive services at an RHC, which is the highest cost option to the State. The inability to maintain qualified staff also places an undue burden on the individuals served, as their lives are disrupted by changes to their daily support staff. It is crucial for the growth and success of the individuals served to have consistent, skilled DSPs providing the highest quality care.
The Governor recognizes this dire situation and has included funds in his proposed budget that will allow for starting wages that exceed the minimum wage, thereby improving the supports offered to individuals with disabilities living in our state.
To learn more about the supported living funding crisis, please view the following video: